When our advisors meet with potential clients for the first time, they talk about the things we can't control and those that we can. Hampton Square has no control over the stock market, the next natural disaster, the political landscape, the economy, and many other externalities that affect investments. But we can work with clients to control their spending, saving, legacy plans, risk tolerance, and timing.
Last night, while clutching the steering wheel and praying my way home in a driving snowstorm, I thought a lot about timing.
Scott and Eric and I had set out to visit a family an hour's drive from the office, fully aware that a huge snowstorm was bearing down on New Jersey and New York. We calculated that we could make it home before too many flakes fell, and we were correct. Eric left in his own car and beat the storm.
Scott and I left New York State at the same time, but then we made the first of two mistakes.
We decided to stop for dinner.
It was lovely, the food was outstanding and the place was practically empty. The server sent us home with extra rolls.
What could go wrong?
By the time we were back on the road, the air was thick with snow and traffic was crawling. The snowplows hadn't even taken a swipe across the interstate. The side roads were much worse, and we struggled to see more than 25 feet ahead. Scott drove steadily on at 20 miles per hour, and after 90 minutes, we reached the office.
Here we (I) made the second mistake. I insisted that I could drive my car, which had been left at the office, the remaining 7 or 8 miles home. I really didn't fancy having to dig my car out the next morning, and besides, I just had to follow Scott in his car, and we'd be fine. He was agreeable, as he usually is, and even scraped off the four or five inches of snow that had accumulated on my car.
Once we pulled onto the road, I regretted my decision. A little inconvenience tomorrow would have been well worth the sacrifice of swerving and sliding up the roads to our house.
Let's just say that I prayed out loud all the way home and was never so grateful to pull into our driveway.
Which made me really think about timing.
Had we decided (and it was a conscious decision) to drive straight home from the appointment, and had we decided to leave my car at the office, we would have gotten home with minimum difficulty and watched the storm intensify from the comfort of our nice, warm family room.
We would have avoided two or three hours of palpable risk...and much angst.
Timing is so important.
And timing is a choice.
It's a choice to delay gratification, to put off a decision to benefit now, in hopes of avoiding too much risk or achieving a better outcome in the future.
When you think about it, timing is under our control.
We just have to choose wisely.