How are you doing? I’m writing this from home today, and imagine that many of you are in the same boat. Between managing child care, stocking up on groceries, making sure you have enough toilet paper (!), learning that the summer Olympics have been postponed, and trying to work from home, you may be feeling anxious, distracted and worried about the future. I understand. This “new normal” isn’t what any of us expected.
But it’s important to keep perspective during times like these, so I wanted to reach out with some reminders to help guide you through this week.
Don’t Act Based on Fear
In times of stress, it’s natural to want to do something. But fear and anxiety can lead to snap judgments that may upend your long-term plans. This is a time for discernment — to slow down, understand your feelings, and approach decision-making from the most neutral position you can muster. Consider the long-term implications of any decisions you make. Clients of AMDG Financial have long-term investment plans in place — ones that take market volatility into account. Know that as your financial advisory team, we’re focusing on the opportunities that will help you make the most of these uncertain times by rebalancing accounts (unless directed otherwise), encouraging clients to make retirement account contributions early, if possible, and accelerating Roth IRA conversions where it makes sense.
On our webcast last week, some of you expressed concern that you are nearing retirement, and can’t afford to lose the nest egg you worked so hard to build. I agree, that’s scary! But let’s play out that scenario: As an example,the Dow sits at just under 20,000 today (as of this writing). If you were to get out, when would you get back in? At 18,000? What if it then dipped to 10,000? Would you stay in or get out again? What if the market suddenly “righted” itself and jumped to 28,000? Were you in or out at that point? This is the problem we face when we try to time the market. Because we don’t know what the markets will do, we risk selling low, losing out on the recovery, and buying high — the exact opposite of what we should be doing! So, if you don’t need the money immediately, sit tight. Historical data shows that U.S. equity returns following sharp downturns have been positive.
Doing Nothing is Doing Something
Believe it or not, doing nothing can be even more strategic than doing something during turbulent times. Imagine if you were riding a roller coaster that started to race out of control. Would you jump out? If you did, you could really hurt, or even kill yourself, right? Chances are, most of us would just stay in our seats, close our eyes, and hold on tight. During these times of market volatility, try to think about that roller coaster. Close your eyes to the daily news, don’t look at your account balances, and wait for that roller coaster to slow down again!
If you still have that anxious feeling of wanting to do something, here are some other options: Try cutting your expenses to the extent that you can, and depositing those extra dollars in your emergency fund, if necessary. You can do the same with your tax refund, if you’re entitled to one. A recent poll by Bankrate showed that just 41% of Americans could cover a $1,000 emergency with their savings, while another 37% said they would need to use a credit card! And, speaking of credit, now is a good time to pay attention to mortgage rates. If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage, or one with an interest rate higher than 4%, you may be in a position to consider refinancing. However, be sure to rate the pros and cons before you make a decision, and beware of fees!
Take Care of Yourself
Finally, in addition to your financial well-being, it’s also important to prioritize your mental, spiritual, social and physical well-being during times like this. Call a friend to check in. Find a workout class online. Get enough sleep. Meditate.
And remember, we’re here for you. If you want to check in with us, we’d be glad to talk to you about what’s happening and how you can weather the storm. One of our firm’s core values is caring for our community, and we’re glad to be of service — not just to you, but also to your family and friends. While most of us are working remotely, our team member, Molly Wallace, is in the office and able to help you connect by phone or email with our advisers, tax specialists, or any other member of our team. You can reach Molly at email@example.com, or by calling 734-737-0866. In the meantime, hang in there. We’re all in this together!