Welcome to the Fall Edition of The Ultimate Guide For the Successful Steward, Fourth Dimension Financial Group’s newsletter.
I’ve been struggling with nostalgia lately. I say that I’m struggling because nostalgia usually makes me sad. Like most people, I really enjoy music from my youth. When I hear that one particular song that triggers that one particular memory, I immediately feel the weight of my advancing age and shortened future. Of course, if you’re 25 years older than I am, you question why I’m feeling this way because “You’re still a kid.” I get it, but I think nostalgia can go one of two ways: it either saddens us or comforts us, maybe both at the same time.
In trying to better understand the effects of nostalgia, I found myself doing some reading on the subject. One quote in particular, by a man named Dan Gilbert, struck me. He said people generally have a more powerful connection to the past than they do to the future because of “the ease of remembering versus the difficulty of imagining.” He suggests that we know what the past looked like but we don’t know what the future looks like. As a result, we find ourselves fixating on the past much more frequently than we look positively toward the future. This might explain why old songs make us (or at least me) sometimes sad and longing for seemingly simpler times of yesterday.
Why does this matter? Well, these same psychological forces can impact how we save and invest for the future. A very simple question is this: would you rather repeat what happened in 2008 or plan for what will happen in 2023? Duh. I know what happened in 2008; the market cratered. But I don’t know what will happen in 2023, even though we may see the biggest market gains in our lifetimes. Again, this is the ease of remembering versus the difficulty of imagining.
It’s with this mental framework in mind that I suggest you read Steve Hanley’s column on REAL risk. Sorting out this investing conundrum in your mind may prove to be very valuable to you financially. Richard Chamberlain reflects on the estate planning question he hears most often, and responds with a series of questions that may help you answer the question for yourself. In the Briefcase Study, we tackle the big pension decision many retirees face, and I share with you a primer on the dreaded budgeting process in Back to the Basics.
I hope you enjoy what we’ve shared with you here. And while you’re looking ahead to the holidays and wrestling with the joys and challenges of your most nostalgic holiday memories, I hope you’ll consider doing what I did; enjoy the past for what it was and imagine the future for the endless possibilities of what it could be. I’m not sure there’s any other way.
All the best,
Adam B. Cufr, RICP®