We’ve been living in some pretty strange times during the past six months. It’s likely that 2020 has changed your life in some significant ways and it’s easy to start having doomsday thoughts about what this means for your retirement. Those at all stages of their career are having fears about what the pandemic and associated stock market fluctuations mean for their retirement savings and plans. But I’m here to tell you that the situation is a lot less dire than you think. Is the pandemic a retirement killer? I think that answer is a resounding no, and here’s why:
The Pandemic is the Newest Apocalypse Du Jour
Think the world is coming to an end? You’re not alone. But I encourage you to have some perspective (and to stop watching or reading the news every day.) I like to refer to the pandemic as the “apocalypse du jour” because it’s just one more in a string of crises. It’s not the first and it certainly won’t be the last. Many investors thought the sky was falling during the housing crisis…and when the Greek economy fell…and when the dot.com bubble burst. See where I’m going here? There will always be a “crisis” and how you react to it will make all the difference when it comes to your investments. When you make a commitment to staying emotionally agile during times of upheaval, you’ll not only be a better investor, but your overall well-being will also improve.
Avoiding Common Behavioral Investing Traps
Staying calm during turbulent times like these helps you avoid common behavioral investing traps like selling off investments or moving money around based on fear. Market fluctuations won’t kill your retirement unless you make permanent decisions. Many investors make bad decisions because they feel like they should be doing something during a crisis. It helps them feel more in control of a situation that is completely out of their control. However, these decisions are reactive and rarely do they help anyone’s financial goals in the long run. In crises such as these, the best course of action is often taking no action at all.
Working with a Financial Counselor
When you work with a financial counselor who prioritizes you, you benefit from the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re receiving accurate advice. A good advisor will not only help you avoid making investing decisions out of fear, but he or she will also help you reduce stress and address other issues in your life that could be impacting your well-being. A financial counselor will have your back and help you make decisions that are best for your unique situation. If you are currently working with an advisor who seems to be pushing you to make changes you aren’t comfortable with or who is not readily available to answer your questions or address your concerns, now may be the right time to dump him and find one who is a better fit.
Are we living in challenging times? Absolutely, but we’ve gotten through crises before and we’ll likely go through more before retirement times rolls around. The pandemic is not a retirement killer unless you allow it to be. Stay calm, avoid making rash decisions, and work with a financial counselor to get through this time without hurting your investments or your quality of life.