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Jerry Citarella: Time to take a reality check and inventory

Financial Truth

Posted: September 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Do you remember when we were younger and we watched cartoons? People reading this likely remember Saturday morning cartoons. That was when we would sit down and get our fix for the week.

It wasn’t like today, where there are hundreds of channels, DVDs, “on demand” options and many other places available to see whatever it is you want. The cartoons were also simpler then, and there were two very distinct sound effects that I always loved: running and stopping. They also work well for this discussion.

My mention of accessibility of cartoons isn’t really important here, but it does exemplify part of the reason we’re always moving so fast. There are too many options and too many things to do sometimes. This is important to realize but, again, the reason I mentioned the cartoons is for the sound effects.

Sound effects really illustrate why so many people are failing financially. It’s that high-speed running sound that was so often used when a character would take off really fast. You remember it. It was like the feet were moving so fast that there was no forward motion but a lot of tapping and slapping, and then suddenly it would take hold and whoosh … they were off. This is how every day starts for many of us. We hit the ground running and never slow down.

When we live our lives at such a high speed, it’s often difficult to take the time necessary to do things right. It’s especially difficult if the task at hand is not perceived as a priority. So often, planning our financial future is not seen as a priority.

But, there comes a day where it becomes an extreme priority, however, until that point many people believe they still have time to deal with financial planning. My belief is, because planning is such a daunting task, many times it is avoided, with denial. This takes me to my second sound effect.

This one is easy. What’s funny is that a sound effect is so unrealistic but really drives the point home. Do you remember the sound of a cartoon character stopping quickly? It was also used and exaggerated when the character was slowing down to make a sharp turn. It sounded like a car slamming on its brakes at 60 miles per hour. The effect does, however, illustrate what many people need in their lives to get some things in order. Put on the brakes. Come to a complete stop and take inventory.

What’s typically found is something that started out as a plan or was never completed or it got thrown off track by something that “came up.” A perceived bigger priority took precedence. This event leaves most people with only a few pieces of their financial puzzle in place. Oftentimes, it’s the pieces that come easy, like plans offered through an employer. That’s not enough. The puzzle needs to be complete.

We unfortunately don’t live in a world where things come easy or have guaranteed futures or results. We need to take matters into our own hands, put on the proverbial brakes and take action. When you take a good look at your situation, it may become an uncomfortable reality check, but it needs to be done. You will then have some options. The two most obvious are to either do something about it, or to deny the problem and start running again. I suggest doing something about it.

The last cartoon reference I will leave you with is one everyone remembers. It’s when a steel safe, probably weighing thousands of pounds if real, is dropped on a character’s head from hundreds of feet up. This is the feeling you will get when the day comes that you realize you did not prepare well enough. In the cartoons, the victim usually gets up to fight again. In life, it’s a lot more difficult to lift that safe off of our heads. It is easy, however, to avoid it completely and that process needs starts today.

Jerry Citarella is the owner of Infinity Wealth Management 23734 Valencia Blvd., Suite 301, Valencia, 661-255-9555, ext. 11. He is also the author of The Truth Helps Series of financial planning books. Citarella’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. Submit questions to: Securities and investment advisory services offered through NEXT Financial Group Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Infinity Wealth Management is not an affiliate of NEXT Financial Group Inc.



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