We are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat.
One thing I know for sure is that the coronavirus is affecting every person. The challenges we are facing are providing us with the ability to reflect and look inward.
Some are blessed with work that can still be performed from home, while others are impacted by business closures and are sent home.
Some have been disciplined savers and have access to rainy day funds, while others need to go back to work to earn a living. Many do not qualify for a stimulus check, unemployment benefits, or federal loans and are running out of money.
Some are spending extra quality time with loved ones and getting reacquainted with quiet pastimes, like reading or painting. While others are spending long hours cooking, cleaning, and teaching their children in addition to long ten‑hour workdays.
Some are caring for a sick relative or mourning the loss of a friend, while others are afraid to leave their homes.
If you are struggling right now like many Americans in order to make ends meet, then by all means cut back, spend only on essentials, and stop making contributions to your retirement account.
Now is the time to dust off your résumé, network, and start thinking about your comeback. The next stage of your life might be the one you never dreamt of but it is presenting itself on a silver platter.
Whether you are a Millennial, Gen X, or Baby Boomer, you can use this imposed “quiet time” to rethink your priorities, values, and expectations. In good and in bad times, I want you to remember this: having a solid plan and sticking to it for the long term will help you weather any storm.
This week’s financial tips, in order of priority, are:
- Cash is king. Have three to six months of fixed living expenses in liquid money (three in dual-income households and six if you are flying solo). If you are already retired, keep two years of liquid money in emergency funds (not counting social security, pension, or any annuity distribution).
- If you are financially able, increase or better yet maximize your retirement contributions ($19,500 or $26,000 if you are in the over-50 club).
- ROTH conversions just went on sale. This is very good news for those of you who need a vehicle to lower your tax liability upon retirement. ROTH IRAs are one of the few ways we can add flexibility and reduce taxes at retirement.
- Extra cash, such as a refund from the IRS or a bonus, can be used to open a taxable brokerage account. This is the time to “buy low”. If history repeats itself, we will turn the page and start the healthy upward trend of economic recovery sometime in the future. Be aware that not all stocks are made alike, so consulting with a financial advisor is invaluable. If you have the means, take advantage and invest in your future so you are fully prepared to ride the next storm.
Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.
— Warren Buffet