“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” So said Benjamin Franklin, who didn’t have to live through 2020 and eat his way through 32 pounds of home-baked bread. But he was on to something. What he suggested was that we should deal with a problem by putting in a bit of time and planning upfront, instead of constantly ducking like we’re living in a real-life game of whack-a-mole.
We all had to deal with the seemingly never-ending whacks from 2020. Loss of income. Loss of security. Loss of human connection… The list goes on in a year that knocked most of us off-course on at least a few occasions.
Prioritize your financial well-being
Everything we’ve had to deal with over the past year affected our well-being, including our financial well-being. That doesn’t mean just our income or savings. Financial well-being, as the Canadian government found, is made up of many parts. Economic factors, like income, home ownership, and work status, are important. But so are social factors, like having people who can help you financially; and psychological factors, like having a sense of control. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the United States, “Financial behavior is also guided by personality, attitudes, knowledge, and skills. The actions consumers take, within the options available to them, create their level of financial well-being.” As we head into a new year, there's no better time to take a step back to refocus, consider our financial priorities and regroup. The good news is that it's not as hard as you may think.
Call in the reinforcements
It’s hard to feel in control when our whack-a-mole world keeps throwing up challenges. We don’t know how long our world will be turned upside down, but tapping into our own skills and calling on our resilience is a great start – that and working with a financial coach to guide us through the ups and downs to help us understand our options and the power of our choices so we can figure out what to do today and have a plan going forward.
For example, since the 2008 recession there has been an increase in self-directed investing. Now there are many people investing without the advice of a wealth advisor. Many of those traders do well for themselves, but it’s not for everyone. Some self-directed traders are driven by emotions like fear or a lack of information. If they had a financial advisor, they’d know they don’t need to panic buy or sell their investments right now. They’d learn about all their options, including the latest rates and best products for their specific situation. They’d learn to take small chances that are appropriate for them, and check in often to reassess whether those choices continue align with their goals.
Similarly, people who’ve lost income can find support from a financial advisor. Advisors are like financial coaches that root for us and help us establish good financial habits, plan ahead, prepare for the unexpected, and stay on track. What might their advice look like for someone who’s lost their job? It might mean tightening spending, allocating money for savings, finding good borrowing options, or setting up emergency funds. All of that can add up to a greater sense of financial well-being.
Get the odds on your side
Visiting a circus with games of chance is fun, but living in one is not. It’s time to pull back the big top curtain. We’re smart and strong – and part of our strength is knowing when to ask for help. So it’s perfectly ok to reach out for help making a plan instead of constantly trying to whack those financial moles back into their holes.
Don’t be afraid to talk about finances. Every day in our lives is different; it’s the same in the economy. It’s never too late to adjust and make changes. Guidance can keep us grounded and help us move forward. Trusting a financial advisor is a solid way to do that – no matter what 2021 throws at us.
Mutual funds and related financial planning services are offered through Credential Asset Management Inc. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Please read the prospectus before investing. Unless otherwise stated, mutual funds and other securities are not insured nor guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.