Today, in 2017, at a time of tension in government both at home and abroad, economic recession topped by inflation, stock market uncertainty, and jolting career adjustments for business executives and professionals, many people still fail to safeguard themselves and their families by taking good care of their personal finances.
Many a man or woman who should know better – whose business or professional income is, say, £30,000 to £70,000 or more – treats his or her personal business like a second cousin who turns up in town in search of a loan: In a word, the personal affairs get a quick brushoff. There is some stewing and fretting about personal finances, true. But aside from some halfhearted resolutions to take things in hand, the personal business goes hang.
In the face of a real need to straighten things out, this corporate executive, say, is apt to have a precariously balanced bank account, top-heavy or lop-sided insurance coverage, a non-saving monthly budget (if any), a too flimsy school-financing plan for his kids, and a hodge-podge investment portfolio that is clearly the result of innumerable uncertain decisions. He buys a share of stock here, sells it there, borrows to buy more stock (often on the strength of somebody’s luncheon table tip), dabbles in corporate bonds without knowing how, digs up thin-ice tax saving ideas over cocktails, and sells off real estate inherited from his parents to pay his debts, buys a high-gas-mileage Mercedes, and backs up any margin calls that come in from his stockbroker. You name it – this gent does it; and it’s makeshift, sandy, jumbled non-planning, or worse.
He very urgently wants to “hedge against inflation” in his investments, and he talks about this at parties, business lunches, and at country stores when he is on vacation. But he never really plans a hedging program, no more than he plans ahead for retirement. He lets inflation go hang, too, at least for the most part; and it squeezes him tighter every year.
In a climate of corporate shake-up and change, his career moves tend to be haphazard, and he is unable to untangle from too many extra-curricular business activities that take up far too many evenings. He lacks enough time for his wife and teenagers, and finds it hard to unearth a free day for his annual physical exam, much less a needed hour every day for physical exercise.
If he is over 50, he worries about his sex life which he suspects could be better (it could be, if he would learn to uncoil after a taxing day). He puts off such things as dentistry, hernia repairs, foreign films, quick trips to Mexico with his wife (to celebrate important anniversaries), and Saturday ball games with his kids. When his golf clubs get their monthly workout, usually it’s a hypertensive 18 holes with the boss. Or with a customer.
As for home chores, his wife chides him because he hires people to do everything from paint gutters and fix screens to trim backyard trees and shrubs. In truth, he would like to put on old pants and do these chores, and raise tomato plants, too.
At times, feelings of guilt get him down. When this happens, he takes the whole family to an overpriced resort for a long weekend but finds the routine a strain because he can’t really afford the expense (true) or the time (he thinks). While away on such weekend junkets, he discovers that thoughts of Monday morning creep into his mind, without fail. This begins on Saturday along about 2 P.M. In fact, Monday morning invades his thoughts most weekends, no matter where he is.