Many people made New Year’s resolutions to improve their financial health. If you were one of them, now, being the halfway mark of 2021, might be a good time to monitor your progress.
Financial stress can affect health issues and is a major contributor to divorce. It makes life less enjoyable and is best to be avoided. If you are unhappy with your situation, you may need to come up with a plan. A wise man once said, “If you keep doing the same thing, only a fool would think you would achieve a different outcome.” In other words, some changes are required to improve the situation.
There can be a number of things to consider. If you are running out of money every month there are only two possible things to change. You either need to earn more or spend less. It might require a new job, a second job or learning a new skill to get a promotion. There are help wanted signs everywhere. It might require an analysis of your spending to create a new budget that is more in line with your income.
If you are not saving enough for retirement, it might be some combination of the above or taking advantage of a company match to a 401(k) or repositioning some other asset. It might also entail examining your risk tolerance and adjusting investments to be in alignment.
The stock market is at an all-time high. Bull markets do not last forever, even if we wish they did. If you have a long time frame until you need this money, don’t worry if it matches your risk tolerance. However, if you need this money in the next year or so, maybe it should not be in the market.
Most people who are retired choose safer asset allocation because they do not have as much time to make up for losses. Remember the “lost decade” was not that long ago at the beginning of this century. If you invested in the S&P 500, it took 10 years to recover your loss. If large market losses happen soon after you start pulling money out of your retirement accounts, you might never make up the losses. This is known as sequential risk.
Make sure that your financial plan takes rising interest rate into consideration. Rising inflation may force the Fed’s hand. Rising interest rates make bond values go down. The longer the duration to maturity, the greater the effect. Rising interest rates could also affect the stock market. Low interest rates since 2008 have been a major reason that the stock market has soared.
Be sure to consider new tax laws when doing your financial planning and make sure your investments produce the best after-tax returns possible.
It is never too late to get your financial house in order. Keep you New Year’s resolution or create new a one right now.
Your Financial Future is written by certified financial planner Gary W. Boatman, MBA and CFP, who also wrote the book, “Your Financial Compass: Safe Passage Through The Turbulent Waters of Taxes, Income Planning and Market Volatility.” If there is an area that you would like to see discussed in the column, send your suggestions to gary@BoatmanWealthManagement.com.