I have three main objectives for my clients: Save + Invest + Protect
Using these objectives as an outline for the current crisis - here's where I stand at the end of week two of sheltering in place.
Save: Live below your means.
Now is the time to tighten our belts. Thanks to social distancing, my family isn't spending much on travel, concert tickets, or fine dining right now...so that part is easy. But we also have to be careful not to fall into the habit of getting everything delivered.
While we try support small businesses and want to keep our local restaurants alive, we need to guard our reserves and reduce our cost of living. This recession could last a very long time and it's incredibly important that we live below our means.
Drastic budget cuts (25% or more) can make an immediate difference but small adjustments (5% reduction in spending) are more likely to be maintained in the long run.
Give back! In addition to volunteering at City Hope. we're supporting other non-profits that are bravely serving our most vulnerable neighbors during this time need our support more than ever. We aim to pick one or two causes that we really believe in and make a donation to these organizations.
We have a game plan for next-in-line source of cash if our emergency fund gets depleted. This may be a withdrawal from our taxable brokerage account, and for others without a brokerage account - consider a one-time withdrawal or loan from your 401k or a home equity line of credit on your home.
Reducing loan payments - namely, federal student loans, which we've heard about in the news. In addition to student debt, mortgage lenders and credit card companies may offer temporary suspension of payments due to COVID-19 related issues.
Delaying tax payments - we're definitely filing on time for the state because we expect a refund but we'll take the delay on federal where we owe.
Invest: Go long.
These are unprecedented and uncertain times, if I was to compose a prediction of how this economic cycle would end, I would be disproven within twenty four hours so I'll skip the forecasting and focus on the fundamentals.
We're more than 5-10 years away from retirement, so we don't fret. For others in the same boat - your retirement accounts will recover and continue to appreciate...but it may take several years to see this recovery. In the meantime, try not to make any emotional changes to your allocation.
If you have money you've invested for a short term goal (home purchase, sabbatical, college savings, new business venture). The near term performance of short term investment buckets will be far more volatile. If you have the nerves to ride the volatility, bless you. But if you don't want to risk your savings, invest these funds in fixed income inflation protected vehicles such as VTIP or move the funds to money market.
I've been buying a few direct shares that have been overpriced for the past three years. Shares I expect to recover within the next 2 years. It's an interesting opportunity but I'm only risking an amount of money I can afford to lose. I'd never gamble with anything more.
Protect: Peace of mind.
We reviewed our estate plan and talked to our parents out of state about their plans if someone is to fall ill and be in the hospital alone.
If you haven't gotten your Will, Power of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directive in place. Now is the time!
At the risk of sounding incredibly morbid, these documents will ensure you and your loved ones are soundly cared for in the event of a crisis. Talk to your family about this, make sure you understand each other's wishes and values when it comes to health care.
If the past three weeks have left you feeling insecure about your financial plan, please reach out! I'm taking a few new clients who can meet via Zoom. This crisis has helped my clients clearly prioritize their goals and we're seizing this chance to get everything together in a comprehensive plan.