My business group uses July to take a midyear checkup. We look at our budgets, planned projects and keep one another accountable. 2020 has not been the year anyone expected.
It has been an interesting few months.
I struggled through the early parts of the pandemic with a sense of isolation and the disruption of everyday life. The past month, I have been reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and attending webinars on behavioral finance and practice management.
The common theme was mindset.
I was looking forward to attending the spring National Association of Personal Financial Advisors Conference last week in Denver. A bonus was the Cincinnati Reds were scheduled to play the Denver Rockies. Instead of being in Denver, I attended a virtual conference.
Sarah Newcomb, director of behavioral science at Morningstar Inc., gave a presentation on reframing retirement.
Tricksters abound in times of crisis. They are opportunistic and clever. As the COVID-19 outbreak advances, so do their efforts. According to the FBI, scammers and fraud perpetrators “see a vulnerable population out there that they can prey upon. People are scared and looking for help. People are trying to protect themselves and their families.
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” —Mark Twain
So how does our current situation rhyme with past market challenges? As I write this article, I don’t know what the weeks or months ahead hold for the stock market or the economy, but we can sometimes get clues by looking at the past.
It helps to understand the vocabulary market pundits and economists use.
I participate in a small strategy group that has monthly conference calls. This month’s focus was managing income distributions during a prolonged market downturn. The accumulation phase of retirement planning is easy: Save as much as you can as early as you can and invest in a diversified, growth-oriented portfolio.
I am often asked, “Am I on track?” Every situation is different, but some objective measures can be used as a snapshot and tracked over time to measure progress. Finding the right balance between current lifestyle and saving for the future is tricky.
Year-end is my time for reflection and renewal. Business owners use it to set goals and develop a plan with benchmarks for the next year. I started applying this perspective to my personal life.
The end of last year was hectic, with my knee replacement in November and my mother-in-law’s death at Christmas.
There is no gift that says “I love you” like a lower tax bill in April. Between all the holiday parties and batches of eggnog, there are some financial tasks to check off your list before Dec. 31. In addition to a gift of time, it is probably one of the more important gifts to give.
◗ Contributions to Indiana 529 plans.
I grew up in the days when Halloween was fun and safe. The only downside was that I had older brothers who made a point of trying to scare me—and they often succeeded. As an adult, I don’t need my brothers to scare me. I just need to think about the future of retirement in America.