For the last few months we’ve experienced some uncertain and unnerving events across the US and the globe. Presidential elections, threats of war, terrorism, and political arguing can make weathering your portfolio and financial plan uneasy, if not difficult at times.
Add that to the daily responsibilities of your occupation, family, and finances, and we can potentially lose sight of our long-term goals and be susceptible to short-term thinking that may derail our goals and take us off-track from our financial well-being.
Financial planners, wealth managers, advisors, are not immune to this uncertainty and the impact it has on our thinking as well.
If you find yourself worrying or thinking about the uncertainty, perhaps the next few thoughts can help in your thinking and provide some insight on whether changes are necessary.
Have your goals changed? For example, if your retirement timeline is 20 years away, it’s highly unlikely that you need to worry about how your investments are doing today. If any volatility is stressing you too much, then perhaps your investments aren’t in line with your capacity for the risk.
Has your situation changed? Have you received a promotion and pay increase? Perhaps you could be saving more then? Expecting a child – maybe it’s time to think about college savings, life insurance (for you and your spouse), and getting out of debt (a good idea regardless of kids).
Understand what cannot control. Do you have any control over the market? No. This means that you should not reduce your investing in your IRA or 401k simply because you think the market is high. Conversely, don’t stop contributing if (and when) the market drops. Trying to time the market and trading is hazardous to your wealth – as shown in this paper by Barber and Odean (2000).
Understand what you can control. Getting out of debt, saving and investing more than you spend, educating yourself and family, earning more money, are all examples of things you can control. Make a plan on how to improve and work on the things you can control.
Be grateful. Take a moment and think about all that you have, have been given, and be grateful for it. Understand that for all that there is to worry about, the majority is likely to NOT happen, and there is almost always someone else in a worse situation. Many of us (myself included) are incredibly lucky to have the things we have. Whenever I start to worry, I count my blessings (family, health, freedom) and a unique thing happens – I feel better. I worry less, and feel happier.