I was intrigued this week when a story in my newsfeed headlined, “Americans’ love affair with pickup trucks might be derailing their retirement plans” popped up.
My husband has almost always had a truck. The one time we were in between trucks, he built a box to put in the back of our old minivan to haul dirt, stone or whatever else he felt we needed. He works at Cummins and, in the early days, helped design the Ram pickup truck engine.
Everybody is trying to get an edge on the market and predict what it will do leading up to and after the election in November. Like many advisers, I’m getting questions from clients like this: “What does the upcoming election mean for my portfolio? What happens if the Democrats win? Are my taxes going up? Will the Democrats kill the economy?” The bottom line is that, if you are a long-term investor looking for long-term results, it doesn’t matter.
The retirement savings crisis has been growing for several years. The COVID19 pandemic is accelerating the impact.
One factor is increased unemployment and involuntary retirement among older households. A recent study by the New School of Social Research’s Retirement Equity Lab, or ReLab, found that “2.9 million older workers left the labor force since March.” The organization anticipates an additional 1.1 million workers will be added in the coming months.
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. In addition to my business review, I am taking the time to look at where I am personally.
Here are key components of that checkup:
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. Mindset can either hold you back or propel you to reach for more. It reminded me that we all have varying levels of human capital, and our mindset determines how we use and enhance that capital.
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. She had three segments:
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. For example, people are looking for medical attention and medical equipment. They also may be unemployed and looking for work.
“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. You will hear correction, recession, crash, bear market and economic collapse. These are scary words. It is also important to understand that the stock market is not the economy.
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. The distribution phase is more complicated.
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. Here are some indicators I use with clients and why I think they are relevant.
Personal net worth is a measurement of an individual’s total wealth. It is calculated as the total value of assets minus the total value of liabilities: what you own versus what you owe.