May 08, 2020

I often wonder how others are spending their extra time these days. I mean you can only binge watch for so long.  At some point there’s really nothing left to watch. And we can’t really look forward to the next season, because the release dates are unknown. It’s really a strange time, isn’t it?  Do I dare turn to movies like “Outbreak,” “Contagion,” “Parasite,” or “I am Legend”? Nah, that’s just a little too close to home. But that got me thinking.  They’re just movies.  And movies aren’t real.  When they’re filming, and they get something wrong, they do it over.  They get another “take.” 

The last couple of months have given me a chance to reflect on how we, as a community, have adapted to the situation.  And then it hit me…this is another “take.”  This is OUR “do-over.” It’s our chance to reevaluate what’s really important and take action.

When I’m counseling clients about their own personal strategies around financial planning, we discuss protecting what’s important to them.  I always remind them that their #1 asset is their ability to earn an income. And I ask, “So, what are you doing now to protect that asset?  What if….

You had an emergency, an unexpected large expense?  You got sick couldn’t work?  You lost your job?  Or, worse you weren’t here any more?  What if you had to make adjustments to how you lived, because of things for which you have no control…like a pandemic?

But that won’t happen to me - will it?

Well guess what?  IT did!  It happened to all of us, all at once.  And now it’s about making adjustments; trying to control what we can and make positive changes moving forward.  It’s about not being afraid and knowing you don’t need to have all the answers.  It’s about taking one day at a time and taking a step in the right direction

This is the 3rd recession in my career.  And I know from experience, this can be an opportunity.  It’s a chance learn about yourself, look at your personal financial situation, and to take action.  Consider starting with these:

  1. Look at your emergency fund first. Start a savings plan and fill it with 3-6 months of your living expenses.
  2. Review your spending habits and cash flow. It has changed for everyone. Assess what you really need and what can wait.
  3. Ask yourself how much you are able to save. Start small and gradually increase the amount.  Time is an asset, especially now, so the important thing is to get started. 
  4. Plan goals that are 1, 3, and 5 years away. Break them into bite-size pieces and begin working toward them. Think about what’s important for you and set goals that are meaningful to you.
  5. Write down your goals. Review them regularly and make adjustments along the way. Reward yourself as you accomplish each step.
  6. Share the goals with your family. Make it a family goal, so everyone can help achieve it.
  7. Look at your tax situation and take advantage of any programs available this year. Next year might be too late.

When discussing this current setback, I ask my clients how they felt in 2008? Do they remember how long it took to come back to “normal” market conditions? What did they do different then? How did they feel? How does that compare to today? Did they learn from their experiences? Why or why not?

It’s like back in high school when you snuck out and took Dad’s car without asking.  Later, you felt awful about your decision, but you paid for it and learned from it.

It took 5 years to fully recover from 2008.  But we gained experience, and now we know better. So ask yourself, with this current situation, if I had it to do all over again, what would I do differently?  But don’t wait!  Now is your chance - DO it differently now!  We don’t know how long it will take, but it will happen again.

Will you be better prepared the next time? Will you seek out a professional for the advice you need to move forward and make decisions? I would suggest you should.  So, stop binge watching or waiting for the new season to be released. It’s time to take action and get your “TAKE” right this time!

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