- Expect the unexpected - If 2020 hasn't been a wake up call that anything can happen at any time, I don't know how much harder life can smack you in the face. I'm not sure there isn't much we haven't yet seen in 2020? We've almost had two separate World War III's, a global pandemic, economic recession, no toilet paper or paper towels, mass hysteria, a day when only 87,000 people got on an airplane, "sightings" of extraterrestrial aircraft, stock market "crash", and I'm sure I'm missing 15 other crazy things that have happened and we still have 5 months left! People's spending habits have changed too - technology driven in the WFH (work-from-home) environment, people are buying "extra" groceries (stocking up), home projects, shopping online, pick up and to-go orders from restaurants, driving for vacations, etc. Who-woulda-thought?
- Delayed gratification - With the developments and changes in spending patterns, delayed gratification has become even more difficult to achieve because you can have (almost) anything you want at the click of a button - groceries, a car, clothes, you name it and it can be there within the day! But one exciting trend I have seen from many of my clients is that they have been able to save much more money these last 3 months. With many places being shut down, vacations cancelled, events postponed, that has allowed people to boost up their savings or use extra money to pay down some debts. It has been a great way for people to get ahead, if they had delayed gratification.
- Protect what's important - This has been a huge trend recently. People are buying insurance in droves, which makes sense when there is a health pandemic going on. I have had so many friends and family of my clients reach out to get coverage for themselves, their family, their income, and their future. People don't want their families to be left in the dark when the future has so much uncertainty. Fortunately for many of my clients, this is something we have addressed early on in our planning and now we are just making small tweaks and adjustments as their families and incomes continue to grow. And insurance companies have taken notice too! Many have expedited the process to get approved for coverage, and have new systems in place to get the information they require in order to provide a possible offer to folks a lot faster than in the past.
- Progress to saving 20-25% of gross income - Since many spending habits have changed, savings habits have also changed. In fact, like I mentioned above, many people are saving more money now than almost ever before! That's incredible! Now the key is to have a system and build the habits in order to maintain that through time. It's not easy - look at how much advertisers and marketing departments spend in order to get your money. If you can have a system, and you are able to save 20-25% of your gross income, you will be way ahead of the game. The difficult part is having a system to achieve that, and fortunately, that is something I teach all of my clients.
- Invest in yourself, stocks, retirement, property, hard assets - People, now more than ever, want assets that are tangible. Something they can see, something they can touch, something that is relatively safe, and something they know will be around years from now. Look at real estate prices for instance. Early during this crisis, personally I thought real estate was going to get hit hard (boy was I wrong) not only because of the rising unemployment which typically leads to more sales than purchases, but also because of the uncertainty for what the future was going to hold (more buyers delaying purchases). With more people able to WFH, the government stimulus, and low interest rates, houses are selling like hotcakes right now. Looking at other sectors, gold, silver, and precious metals are nearing all time highs. Also, at a time when there is so much small business uncertainty, I've actually had a few clients that are investing in themselves and their business. Some are now looking to buy into, or buy out, businesses from folks that are looking to retire. I've also had more clients put money into the stock market these last few months than ever before. By dollar cost-averaging, you may be able to take advantage of the wild fluctuations (volatility) in the market. History and data shows that 30 years from now, even with the market back to approaching all time highs again, the market has always been higher today than it was 30 years prior. Remember, there is value in scarcity. Like the old saying goes, "they don't make more land," but remember this too - there's only one you - invest in yourself!
- Attack debt with a plan - Most people throw everything towards debt in order to get it knocked out ASAP. It is always a wise thing to be paying down your debts, however there are also trade-offs to every decision, and aggressively paying down debt is no different. First, it depends on the type of debt. Have credit card debt? Yes, pay that off ASAP because every extra dollar you put towards that is saving you 15+% in interest. That's a smart idea. However, if you lack enough savings, and something comes up, guess where you have to go for your safety net? Credit cards. Try to build some sort of savings so you don't repeat that cycle. What about a car loan, mortgage, or student loans? This really comes down to a few things - the balance, interest rate, current savings, and opportunity cost. The last one, opportunity cost, being the most important. With interest rates at all time lows, it may not be the most wise thing to send an extra $1,000 to one of these types of loans, especially if you can generate a higher rate of return elsewhere.
- Splurge, yep, that's right - Life's too short to save all your money (but it can also be too long to spend it all too!), so you need to enjoy it. After being couped up for 3 or 4 months, and if you are ahead of or have already hit your savings goal, get out and spend a little money. Do something nice for yourself, and have no shame in it! Plus, if you know you are doing the right things and saving money, you can spend everything guilt-free. This is a big part of that cash flow system that I teach clients.
As I mentioned above, 2020 has been a heck of a year so far - there's been good and bad. For some of my clients it has been one of their best years yet, but for others it has been a struggle. Keep some of these items above in mind and let me know how I can help. I want to hear how you are doing and how your family is doing. How can I help take you from "doing ok", or "doing good", to "doing great!"?
Let's make the second half of 2020 better than the first! Thanks for reading!
As always, you can reach me by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, drop me a message on my website at www.mblakemiller.com, or schedule a complimentary call here!
This material contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Guardian or its subsidiaries and such opinions are subject to change without notice. All investments contain risk and may lose value. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.