As originally appeared in The Jerusalem Post on March 29, 2017.
A week and a half and quickly approaching. Yikes. I just got back from a two-day vacation with my wife, and was politely informed that it’s now showtime! We have officially transitioned from vacation to Pesach cleaning mode. It’s important to note that one of my jobs is to clean the oven. I am not into wearing gloves when I clean, and I measure success in cleaning by the number of cuts and scratches on my hands!
Obviously the main aspect of cleaning is to rid one’s house of chametz. But there is another aspect mentioned by Hassidic masters. That is that by scrubbing and scrubbing we should be 1- trying to clean ourselves spiritually, and get back to our religious equilibrium and 2- create a sense of slavery and re-establish what true freedom means.
Speaking about the aura of Seder night Rav Ezra Bick wrote, “In the modern world, we tend to take freedom for granted, and perhaps that is why it seems so shallow and empty at times. Halakha sends the Jew back into slavery every year (or perhaps it would be more correct to say that Halakha recognizes that man slips back into slavery every year), so that he can be liberated anew. Freedom is a journey, a station on the road, and without the experience of liberation, without the living memory that NOW you have just left the house of bondage, you are not really free. If you do not free yourself every year, you slip back into subjugation – one either increases freedom, or becomes enslaved. At the very beginning of the seder, we cite a halakhic rule – “The more one tells the story of the Exodus, the more meritorious it is.” Freedom is an inner struggle, a process, a path, not a static state; and the more one relives the moment of liberation, the farther one travels on that path.”
For those who want true financial freedom, financial independence, now is the time to clean up your portfolio and get back to basics. Investors should use this time of the year to clean up messy portfolios. In fact it is probably more important than cleaning your windows—where there is no chametz!
Go back and reassess your financial goals and dreams of how you would like your future to look, and then create a financial plan to get yourself back on track to achieve your goals and dreams.
Once you have defined your goals, it’s time to look at your portfolio. Have you skewed from your optimal asset allocation? Is your portfolio a hodgepodge of random stocks that were bought on a whim, but with no underlying strategy?
Be smart about your investments. Pick a strategy and stick with it. Owning random stocks with no strategy is a recipe for disaster, and even though you may have emotional reasons to hold onto certain positions, now is the time to put emotions aside and be more rational. Asset-allocation is the best way for most investors to grow wealth.
John Bogle, Vanguard founder and preacher of long-term passive investing gave one of his rules on investing and said, “One of my favorite rules is ‘Don’t peek.’ Don’t let all the noise drown out your common sense and your wisdom. Just try not to pay that much attention, because it will have no effect whatsoever, categorically, on your lifetime investment returns.”
Like moving from slavery to freedom, there is no shortcut to building wealth, it’s a process. The way to build wealth is to buy quality assets, and hold them over time. In addition, add money to your account whenever possible. By allowing the wonders of compound interest and the growth of the stock market to do their thing, over time there is a good chance that you will achieve financial freedom.
Enjoy your cleaning!
The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates. Aaron Katsman is author of the book Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing (McGraw-Hill), and is a licensed financial professional both in the United States and Israel, and helps people who open investment accounts in the United States. Securities are offered through Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. (www.prginc.net). Member FINRA, SIPC, MSRB, FSI. For more information, call (02) 624-0995 visit www.aaronkatsman.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.