The Not So Friendly Skies

By Jim Elder, Finance Editor

[November 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Jim Elder, Finance Editor]

I’m at the stage in my life where our children, nieces, and nephews are getting married. So, we have the obligation to attend and to make an appearance when we get an invitation.

One recent wedding we had to fly to Chicago and then drive along the Michigan Lake shore up to Muskegon, Michigan.

Being a person that loves a bargain, we purchased airline tickets with seats way in the back of the airplane near the bathrooms. When we boarded the plane, I expected the flight attendant to hand me a toilet brush. Luckily that did not happen.

We all got to our seats and buckled up. The odor from the bathroom sanitizer filled the rear of the cabin.

Once in the air, I think I can sit back and take a nap. Being in the last row, I was not able to tilt my seat back to relax. However, the linebacker in the seat in front took full advantage of his reclining seat.

So, there I was wedged between the bathroom wall and the back of the seat occupied by Mr. NFL.

As the plane reached cruising altitude, I look out over the snow-capped mountains and enjoy the view. Suddenly, we hit turbulence. The plane began to bounce and jostle the passengers. Drinks on our trays tipped and spilled on passenger’s laps.

As we were bouncing through the not so friendly skies, I was wondering why we had not heard from our pilot through the speakers

I began to worry and think why we hadn’t heard a word from the cockpit. I looked around to my fellow passengers to see their reaction. To my surprise, I see the pilot sitting in a seat on the other side of the aisle, calmly reading a magazine.

I leaned over to him and asked why he wasn’t up in the cockpit flying the plane. He pulled down his reading glasses and gazed at me saying, “The plane is set on autopilot so there is no need to worry.”

No need to worry? I thought he is crazy! Nobody is flying this airplane except for a gyroscope. What happens if something on the airplane breaks? What if we run into a thunderstorm? What if? What if? What if? There are so many things that can happen when no one is at the wheel.

This story never happened but it is similar to how many folks manage their own finances. They set their portfolio on autopilot and forget about it.

This is a very dangerous method of financial stewardship. There are so many things that can go wrong. Economics and investments are constantly changing, and Congress is always changing tax laws. Top performing investments in the past may not be the best now. Managing your own finances can be like the arcade game Whack-A-Mole.

Sure, the cost may be low, but are your investments on the right path and are they giving you the best performance?

This is a great time to evaluate your finances.