Thursday, May 24, 2007

financial manana

Years ago, my pastor came back from a visit to Mexico with a very important language lesson: The dictionary definition for manana may be tomorrow but in actual use it means not today.

Everyone has weaknesses and issues but what amazes me is that these weaknesses usually exhibit themselves in how people handle finances. For some it is overspending; for others acting before they think. With me, it is procrastination. It is not what I do, so much, as what I don’t do that I should.

My financial problem, also a general personal problem, is what I call my manana things. Things I don’t do, my not today tasks.

One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.
~ Proverbs 18:9 (NIV)

A basic, common sense concept in economics is opportunity cost. Whenever you make a decision, the cost is what you decide not to do. Here’s real world example. I knew last fall that I should transfer from our savings account all but a small amount into a money market mutual fund (MMF). It takes 20 minutes to do this on the internet; the MMF company will send me free checks to draw on the account; and it pays four or five percentage points higher in interest. It was a no-brainer. It was also a manana thing: no big deal if not today.

However, by deciding manana, then manana again and again, waiting six months to set up an account, I gave up a few hundred dollars in interest. My slacker behavior was the twin brother of wasting, or destroying, enough to support a number of youths on their summer missions trips.

That’s right. I’m living proof of the truth of Proverbs 18:9.

I know of a couple in another community who signed up and paid for the materials for Financial Peace University, but never got around to going to the course either time it was offered by their church. When they finally sought individual help, their financial coach ended up having them do what they would have done earlier if they took FPU. They do have a sizable emergency fund in a bank account but not in a MMF. They have destroyed hundreds of dollars in potential interest payments. They have substantial investments in low-yielding assets and have lost thousands of dollars in potential yields in the past several months. In fact, they have lost at least a thousand since canceling an appointment to reallocate their wealth. They had a very good reason for canceling but the problem is that it became their manana thing to meet again to reallocate.

Doing nothing is really deciding not to do something. There is a cost. As for me and other slackers, we can take no comfort in manana. We are brothers of those who destroy.

Be blessed!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great post bob.