The seven deadly sins are famous in religion and literature. They are recognized as capital sins that often lead to other, often related, vices. There are several definitions of the seven deadly sins and they can be applied to many aspects of life. Here is how the seven deadly sins apply to retirement planning.
1. Lust. Lust can be equated to extravagance and longing to the point it becomes all-consuming. Signs of giving in to lust include spending too much on luxury items and living beyond your means. It could also mean having champagne taste on a beer budget. Excessive spending can lead to unmanageable debt if left unchecked. Solution: You need a budget and you need to stick to it.
2. Gluttony. The classic definition of gluttony is over-consumption to the point of waste. Another way to look at it is having too much now when you should be saving some for later. Job markets are uncertain and people are living longer lives, which means it’s best to put something away now while you are healthy and working, just in case you can’t afford to put anything away later. Solution: Start investing for the future now.
3. Greed. Greed is a killer when it comes to your investment portfolio. Greedy investors often chase past results, choose higher risk investments, or don’t do their research before investing. This can lead to falling for scams, buying at the top of the investment bubble, and other problems. Solution: Start with a balanced portfolio, research all investments thoroughly before buying, and remember that if an investment sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
4. Sloth. This sin is characterized by apathy and inaction and can result in major financial problems. Sloth can take the form of not opening a retirement account, not increasing retirement contributions, failing to balance your portfolio, not selling losing (or winning) investments, not paying off debt, and a host of other problems. Solution: Take 15 minutes to open an IRA, adjust your 401(k) withholding, set up a meeting with a financial planner, or transfer a credit card balance.
5. Wrath. Uncontrolled anger is dangerous because it shifts your attention away from your goals. It may not have been your fault the economy tanked a couple years ago and set your retirement portfolio back, but being angry about it won’t change the numbers on the bottom of your investment statement. Solution: Focus on action and solutions, not blame.
6. Envy. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor, or his house, or his car, or his savings account. Trying to keep up with the Joneses is one of the quickest ways to get into debt. Solution: Strive to follow your budget, and work to get out of debt. But mostly, be grateful for what you have been blessed with.
7. Pride. Thinking you can do everything is a quick way to put your retirement in jeopardy. Most people aren’t experts in financial planning, risk management, or estate planning. Solution: Spend some time and money to visit with a financial professional, estate planner, lawyer, or insurance specialist to get professional advice that will help you reach your retirement goals and protect your assets and survivors throughout your retirement.