It’s not unusual for workers and retirees to feel doubtful about their retirement during times of crisis.
This year has been a roller coaster for investors, and we’re just more than halfway through. Many retirees and workers are less confident about their ability to afford a comfortable retirement. It’s natural to feel some concern after large swings in the market and uncertainty in the economy. If you are anxious, there are some simple things you can do to feel better about your financial situation.
Keep an Eye on Spending and Savings
Whether you’re still working or retired, your spending habits have probably changed over the past few months. With most restaurants and entertainment venues closed, most of us have spent less than usual. Low energy prices have provided an additional boost to savings. As the economy begins to reopen, it is wise to keep an eye on creeping expenses.
Reviewing your spending budgets and savings should give you a good idea of whether you are still on track to achieve your goals. If not, you’ll know where to make some changes.
The past few months are an excellent example of why everyone needs an emergency fund.
For workers, an emergency fund is a cushion against financially stressful events like unemployment or illness. An emergency fund is just as important for retirees living on their savings. Riding out market turmoil is much easier when you have cash on hand to pay your bills in the immediate future. If you did need to dip into your emergency fund during the crisis, refilling it should be a priority. This is also a good time to think about whether your emergency fund is large enough, or, perhaps, too large.
Think About the Long Run
It is easy to get caught up in the emotions of current events. Studies have shown that humans tend to overestimate how much change will happen in the near term. We also underestimate how much change will occur in the long run.
The long-term growth of the economy is almost always more important to the markets than current events. Investors who own portfolios of high quality, financially strong and profitable companies do well in the long run. Bear markets happen, but, historically, the market recovers.
Talk to a Professional
If you still feel uncomfortable about your financial situation, find a professional financial adviser to speak with. Often just having someone to walk through investment decisions is enough to prevent common mistakes investors make.
Before you hire an adviser, make sure they are a fiduciary. A fiduciary is legally obligated to give you advice in your best interest. A fiduciary adviser is paid for the advice they give you, not products you buy from them. It is natural to feel concerned about your finances during a period of market turmoil and economic uncertainty. The best way to be sure you are still on the right track is to focus on your financial plan, not the markets. Most of the time, during the depths of a crisis, things are not as bad as they seem. Often, the best way to avoid making common investment mistakes is to talk to a trusted adviser. •