None of us planned for this.
But your Life-Centered financial plan does have mechanisms in place that will help you get
through this tough patch with the coronavirus and the financial market volatility. The key is not
letting heightened emotions and bad headlines steer you towards decisions that could have a
negative impact on your finances long after this crisis has passed.
Easier said than done, right?
These three steps will help you remember why you have a plan in the first place, what it’s
designed to help you accomplish, and how we can help.
1. Acknowledge your emotions.
Worry. Anger. Uncertainty. Nervousness. Maybe even a disbelieving chuckle or two at the
craziness of it all.
Whatever you’re feeling right now is OK. We understand that your financial concerns are just
one part of a very complicated and very personal situation involving your family, your work,
your health care, and your basic needs. Add in the anxiety we’re all feeling about the situation in
the wider world and you wouldn’t be human if your emotions weren’t a bit jumbled right now.
So please understand that when we advise you to take emotions out of your financial decision
making during a crisis, we’re not advising you to ignore what you’re feeling. On the contrary, we
encourage you to talk through your feelings with your spouse, children, co-workers, and other
close friends or family. Burying your emotions only makes stressful situations more stressful.
Our human capacity for empathy, understanding, connection, and mutual concern is going to
help us all weather this storm. It’s also going to lead you towards healthier and more productive
outlets for your feelings, such as charitable giving and finding creative ways to support local
2. Tell yourself your story.
Once your feelings are out in the open, it will be easier for you to think about the financial part
of your situation with a clear head.
Try, for a moment, to set aside the market swings that may have been dominating your news
feeds for the past few weeks. Instead, think about the reason that you started working with us in
the first place.
In those first few meetings, we didn’t talk about how to time your investments to world news or
market fluctuations. Instead, we talked about you. About the life you desire for you and your
And finally, we discussed how our Life-Centered Planning process can help you get that best
possible life with the money you have.
3. Prioritize Now, adjust for Soon, stay on track for Later.
Because we plan for clients’ lives, not just their money, we always take in a wide view of
financial progress. Today’s big market dip will look like a blip with a thirty or forty-year
panoramic perspective. But “stick to your plan” doesn’t mean we don’t do anything during a
major market correction, especially if you’re at or nearing retirement age. It means that the
moves we contemplate are based more on your upcoming financial planning transitions than they are on
unpredictable market movements.
To keep yourself focused on things you can plan for, grab a sheet of paper and sit down with
your spouse. Divide that sheet into three sections:
- Now: Financial concerns that need to be addressed as soon as possible, such as paying
next month’s bills, a necessary home repair, or a health care issue.
- Soon: Important items 6-12 months out that you still have time to prepare for.
- Later: Everything else.
Most of these items will already be things we’ve discussed and planned for over the course of
our work together. But it’s possible that recent events have filled up your Nows and bumped
some Soons into Laters. We deliberately designed your Life-Centered Plan so that it can be
responsive to these changing priorities and transitions while still being sensitive to larger
To remind yourself of what you’re truly planning for, it might be a good idea to revisit your most
recent financial planning meeting. We’d be happy to email you a copy of your summary letter that you can review. Or call us up and we can
work through this exercise together and see what adjustments we should think about. The current
crisis might alter your path a little bit. But your destination may still be the same.