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Friday, March 31, 2023

Dealing with finances is a marathon, not a sprint – opinion

It’s March, so that means we are in the middle of the running season in Israel. Every weekend, there are a myriad of race opportunities that are perfect for beginners, experienced runners and everyone in between.

A month ago, along with my oldest daughter (I won’t mention another child who cut school that day and ran for the first time in a 10-km. race), I ran and completed the Dead Sea half marathon. Now, it’s time for the Jerusalem Marathon.

When running long distances, you certainly have what to think about. Usually, I will spend time thinking about work issues, ideas on the Torah portion of the week, singing some songs and trying to figure out which route to take to get to my desired distance goal.

It’s also a great way to just plain clear your mind and take a break from the contentious issues of the day, such as the proposed judicial reform legislation. In addition, sometimes your mind wanders back to previous runs, and you can gain strength from knowing that you managed to complete the run against all odds.

Case in point: If we flashback to last year’s Jerusalem Marathon, we had the pleasure of running through a continuous downpour, hail, frigid temperatures and strong winds. The temptation to drop out of the race as I neared my home was intense, but what’s a bit of hypothermia. Gotta get to the finish line!

Runners at the Tel Aviv Marathon show their opposition to the judicial reforms. (credit: BEN COHEN)


All I was thinking about was that I actually paid money for this experience, and that if one more volunteer dressed warmly in rain gear, holding an umbrella, yelled, “Kol hakavod, you’re almost done” – as a gust of wind straight in my face sent chills down my spine, while I still had seven km. to go – I would punch him!

But seriously, and I am sure many of you know what’s coming, there are many things we can learn from long-distance running and apply them to managing our finances.

You can always change

Years ago, I was asked by a friend why I decided to run a full marathon. I said everyone has their own personal answer, including me. We often get stuck on autopilot in many or all aspects of our lives. I really was looking to break the inertia and try and “take back my life” – not just “let life happen,” but push myself and take more control of my life.

By pushing and achieving something that you never dreamed possible, you can keep that mindset and apply it throughout your life. You can accomplish much more than you ever dreamed possible. You really do have the power to make significant change in your life; just do it.

Forget about everyone else

World champion runner Haile Gebrselassie said: “When you run the marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time.” In personal finance, it’s imperative to focus on yourself and on your goals. Forget about what everyone else is doing. Sure, your friend’s Dubai pictures on Facebook look like fun, but don’t squander your financial future to go on a vacation you can’t afford.

Invest for the long term

I may sound like a broken record, but those who really keep their eyes focused on the long term, end up doing well financially. Sit down and define your goals and needs, and then invest with an allocation that will help you achieve those goals. Don’t get caught up in trying to time the stock market; instead, buy good-quality assets and hold them. Don’t worry about the Russia/Ukraine war, inflation, etc.

Sure, there have been short-term market drops, but study after study show that market-timers tend to woefully underperform the broader market over the long term. What you should do is forget about short-term market gyrations, and focus more on reassessing your goals and needs from time to time.

Make sure your money is serving the purpose you want it to serve. Your financial life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon, and you need to be laser-focused on the finish line – not the 100 meters immediately ahead.

Whether planning for retirement, living within a budget or starting a savings plan, it’s never too late to get on the path of financial security. It may be hard, and you may have other things to do instead, but take the time needed to make those adjustments, and you will be well on your way to financial independence.

The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group 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 and is a licensed financial professional both in the US and Israel.

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