Revisit your goals, and see how your progression towards them has been impacted.
In a previous article, I mentioned four planning opportunities COVID-19 has brought us. Then I discussed, what is a financial plan? Today I am going to dive deeper into the first opportunity – which is the opportunity to revisit your financial goals, and see how your progression towards them has been impacted.
When I think of COVID 19 affecting goals, I think of it in two different ways:
- Changing your goals completely
- Changing your progress to your goals
Changing your financial goals completely
COVID may have entirely changed your goals. For example, many teachers or college professors I am working with that are within 5 years of retirement, are not sure they want to work another 5 years. They want to be done now. The education system is one of the hardest hit areas from COVID and there still is uncertainty around it. Some questions we help answer with this:
- My retirement was originally 5 years out. Can I retire now with my existing savings and future income sources?
- I am leaving my industry and going to work part time until retirement. How does this affect my plan?
Thinking about selling your home?
Another common one I have heard, especially for those in NYC, are people wanting to sell their homes. They have had their upstate house in their mind as a future plan, and now there is no longer a desire to wait. This goal of the upstate home has changed significantly by being more urgent and short term.
- Can I afford this house and the expenses that come with it?
- What financing options are best for me? How much should I put down?
- Should I rent versus buy?
Another one that is on top of mind are college expenses. What college will look like for your child, again that education field, are hard to visualize right now. Online colleges or professional certificates are on the rise, and with that comes a lower cost. Maybe this changed your goal of how much to save for college expenses.
Additionally, some clients were thinking of breaking away from corporate America and starting their own business, such as doing consulting. COVID may have changed that plan, whether for the sooner or later.
Those are examples of how COVID changes goals completely. So, it’s a good time to revisit all of your goals and reassess what’s important.
Changing progress towards financial goals
When we build a financial plan for a client – we always factor in a “stress” on the plan, so it’s called. So, an unplanned event that happens that could derail your progression. Whether it’s a market downturn, tax increase, inflation increase, you name it. Well, COVID-19 is it! A global pandemic would certainly account for a stressor. This put’s the tests to practice. So, this is an opportunity to see how your goals and your financial plan are holding up and if changes need to be made. This can put you on a more solid path towards that goal. Some examples of how I have seen this in plans:
- Businesses earnings are down, or furloughs or layoffs occurred. Retirement contributions may not be on track this year. We revisit how that has affected the plan and what we need to try to do to make up for it.
- Portfolio returns may not be on track based on what was projected.
- Jobs have changed and benefits were removed or have come available, which create extra costs or eliminates costs.
- Extra income may not be available for 529 plan contributions or extra savings (Wait for my next post on this!).
- Worries around life insurance, and not having enough. We factor in what amount of insurance would be a good fit.
Revisit your financial goals – Summary
So in summary, during this uncertain time, it’s an ideal time to get as much certainty as you can – and having a financial plan and revisiting it often is a great way to do that. Whether your goals have changed or your progress towards them has.
Next up – we talk about the second opportunity, which is revisiting your expenses.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advice offered through Marshall & Sterling Wealth Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. Marshall & Sterling Wealth Management and Marshall & Sterling Wealth Advisors are separate entities from LPL financial.
Opinions voiced in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations. To determine which investment may be appropriate for you, consult with your attorney, accountant, or financial advisor prior to investing.