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7 Financial Planning Tips During Coronavirus — Opinion

From a Certified Professional Planner…

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Yes, the world continues to turn and each day brings you closer to your retirement and financial future – even though during this shelter-in-place, it often feels like it is the same day over and over again.

During the Coronavirus shutdown and daily life disruption, it can be tempting to binge on other activities, like Netflix or ice cream. However, you would be well served to use this time to review your financial plan. Knowing that your financial future is still on track can help with the frustrations of the shutdown and bring you financial peace. Only after you secure your long-term plan, then you can binge!

Here are seven tips to help create a financial plan.

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1. Determine your Emergency Cash needs. Experts have long suggested that you keep 6-9 months of expenses in emergency cash. Even though that cash is not earning a lot of interest in the banks these days, when you need cash and you have it, then your financial plan remains on track. If you need cash and you don’t have it, then you may likely have to sell some investments to create cash, and right now, the market is down, presenting an unfavorable time to sell.

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2. Stay the course with your long-term investments. Although no one can guarantee this, after every market decline there has been a recovery and rebound of the market. I believe that if our economy continues – even after this major impact – and companies make a profit again, then the market will recover. Consider these recent two major impacts to the market: The 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks and the 2008 financial crisis. After both of these events, the market has recovered to create wealth for those that stayed the course. One can’t predict the future, but with your long-term investment plan, you should stay the course and not panic.

3. Add investable money into the market, especially through your 401(k). Think about it. How would your life be financially different and better if you could reach back in time and purchase companies like Microsoft, McDonalds, ATT, Home Depot and Walmart ten, fifteen, or even 20 years ago? Well, you can’t go back in time to buy big solid blue chip companies, but you can buy them at prices today that were only available years ago. For example, ATT recently closed at $28.89 per share. Well, you could have bought it near that price in May 1997. The market has impacted stock prices for sure, but some major companies with the resources to withstand the impact of Coronavirus are presenting interesting buying opportunities today, that were only available many years ago.

4. Buy life insurance outside of work. Part of a well thought-out financial plan includes the offensive strategy of creating and growing wealth. But it also includes the defensive strategy of preserving and protecting it. Part of the protection plan should include life insurance. Unfortunately for many workers, when they lost their job (like the well over 30 million Americans now on unemployment) they lost their employer provided life insurance. You should give strong consideration to get life insurance outside of work – for this exact reason. And, consider buying one that has an ‘accelerate care rider’ that can help if you need long-term care.

5. Use this time to educate yourself. There are many programs, books and on-line courses that will help financially empower you. One such program specifically designed to help all women is Financially Empower Women dot com. If not this program, there are many others that can help clear the confusion about how to create a well thought out plan. You should take advantage of this shutdown and educate yourself.

6. Inventory your financial assets. One of the best ways to say “I love you” to your family is to create a financial inventory for that time when you are unable to tell your family where everything is. You may know someone who inherited a financial mess, with family members not knowing where everything was. This creates confusion and frustration. Use the lockdown time to create a legacy of love and understanding.

7. Create estate planning documents. It easy to put off estate planning, often with the excuse that “there simply isn’t enough time” to get it done. Well, there is now. Many attorneys and professionals remain available via phone, video chat and other methods during this shutdown. Not having ‘time” is no longer an excuse. Having estate planning documents in place will ensure that your wishes and desires, not only for your money, but for your person are fulfilled. Like #6 above, having estate planning documents in place before they are needed will allow you to say “I love you” when you are unable to do so.

Shak Hill is a Certified Financial Planner, CFP® professional, author of A Woman’s Guide to Financial Planning and the creator of GuidingLightUniversity.com designed to help the single woman with understanding and creating a financial plan. Shak has made available a free template for financial assets at YourFinancialGuidingLight.com.

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