The additional time we are spending in our homes during the COVID-19 pandemic has given many of us a rare opportunity to pause and reassess our life choices, including those that affect our physical and mental well-being. For some, this has translated to a healthier diet, a more regimented exercise routine and more time spent outdoors. However, as you take steps to improve your health, it also makes sense to consider what changes you may need to make to improve your financial well-being through the current crisis period and far into the future.
To help you find your financial wellness, you may first consider taking an objective look at your present circumstances and develop a budget based on your earnings and your fixed expenses. Whether you continue to work and earn income through the current crisis or you are furloughed or laid off, you still have to pay your monthly and quarterly bills for rent, mortgage, utilities, car payments, insurance and the like. Ask yourself if you will be able to continue meeting these regular financial obligations with your current income and savings and for how long you based on what is currently a very uncertain future.
Do you have an emergency fund to help supplement your income and support you and your family members in the event you lose your job or you incur significant costs for an unplanned financial expense, such as a house or car repair? If you do have emergency savings, are you able to replenish it should the current crisis continue into 2021? Looking down the road, how do you plan to fund your retirement? Do you have a 401(k) or IRA retirement plan? Does the plan’s current allocation of assets match with your timeline to retirement and tolerance for risk?
Remember, one of the consequences of safer-at-home work and social-distancing policies is that you are spending less money on gas, dry cleaning, dining and entertainment through the crisis period. It is also likely that you put your 2020 vacation plans on hold, or you were forced to cancel any lavish overseas trips. Ask yourself what you are doing with those extra dollars. It may behoove you to sock them away into your emergency fund or use them to max out contributions to your tax-advantaged retirement accounts or expand your investment portfolio.
Just as a new diet or exercise routine may require you to rely on a nutritionist, workout videos or a personal trainer, establishing a firm financial footing is best coordinated with the help of experienced fiduciary financial advisors. These professionals can help you navigate the current financial landscape and establish sound strategies that serve your best interest and meet your specific needs and goals, including structuring your assets to be protected from creditors and legal disputes. In addition, most 401(k) plan providers offer online tools to help plan participants understand all their investment options, project participants’ future financial needs, and offer personal financial advice to help participants ensure their savings are on the right track.
The road to financial wellness is best traveled in small steps that follow a well-thought-out plan and begin with an assessment of your ultimate goals and intentions. According to behavioral science, taking the time to simply discuss and write down these goals can help you focus on your needs and motivate you to act. Remember, you do not have to go it alone. Financial advisors can be one of the best guides to help you reach your intended destination.
About the Author: Olga Ismail is a retirement plan consultant with Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs, and a registered representative with Raymond James Financial Services. For more information, call (954) 712-8888 or email email@example.com.
Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), 515 E. Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 712-8888.
Olga Ismail is a registered representative of and offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs. PWA is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment Advisory Services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc., and Provenance Wealth Advisors.
This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of PWA and not necessarily those of Raymond James. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. The information contained in this report has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.
401(k) plans are long-term retirement savings vehicles. Withdrawal of pre-tax contributions and/or earnings will be subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, may be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty. Investing involves risk, investors may incur a profit or loss regardless of the strategy or strategies employed. Future investment performance cannot be guaranteed. Matching contributions from your employer may be subject to a vesting schedule, please review your retirement plan documents or consult with a financial professional for more information.