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Monday, June 5, 2023

How to handle COVID-19’s financial impacts

COVID-19 has changed so many aspects of our lives, from the way we shop to the way we work. But how has it changed your financial life?

70% of Americans have said their financial well-being was negatively impacted by COVID-19.* We’re here to help you navigate those economic shocks and stay on track for retirement. Below are some ways financial lives have been affected and ideas for how to handle them.

Woman with mug considering how to increase her income.

Scenario: Your income was reduced—or eliminated.

Maybe your spouse or partner was laid off or your work hours were reduced. Perhaps you’ve had to leave the workforce for health-related reasons. This is when liquid assets (such as a bank account) play a critical role in your financial plan, because you may need to tap into emergency savings.

What to do next: Start by asking some key questions: Can you earn income via temporary employment? How should you adjust your budget? Do you have enough savings to retire early? Our retirement income calculator can give you a clearer picture of where you stand.

Scenario: You had to take an early retirement

During the pandemic, workers age 55 and older experienced the highest rates of job loss.** Many are choosing retirement after struggling to find a new job. If you’re facing an unplanned retirement, there are things you can do to make the transition easier.

What to do next: Start by looking at your expenses. Is there anything you can cut or reduce right away? You may also want to create a strategy for debt: Some debtors are open to negotiating payment plans, particularly during times of economic uncertainty. Check out our guide on getting through an unexpected retirement.

Man thinking about his early retirement.
Woman wondering if she should delay retirement.

Scenario: You had to delay retirement

On the flip side, some have had to work longer than they’d planned because their retirement savings took a hit. As you’re rebuilding your nest egg, try to tune out the chatter around day-to-day market conditions. One piece of good news, more individuals are getting out and spending, which could help to improve the economy.*

What to do next: Avoid major changes, like choosing investments outside your risk tolerance. If you do have to adjust your financial strategy, try to keep retirement as your top priority. Above all, don’t get discouraged; delaying your retirement may be the smartest decision you make for your future.

“Through all history, investments have been subject to a sort of Law of Gravity: What goes up must go down, and, oddly enough, what goes down must go up.”***

Jack Bogle, Vanguard Founder

– Jack Bogle, Vanguard founder

Scenario: You don’t have a complete financial plan

Even if COVID-19 didn’t affect your employment or finances, you still may want to fine-tune your plan for the future. Maybe you have some savings but want to organize your finances into clear-cut objectives. Further defining your goals is a smart way to get control, even if your finances are secure.

What to do next: Make sure your investment plan has defined, attainable goals. Having a clear vision for your future can help you make the best decisions for your investments. If you’re saving for multiple goals, consider opening a new type of account, such as a 529 savings plan.

Scenario: You’ve experienced no major financial changes

If you haven’t been impacted financially by the pandemic, the above scenarios are still good reminders of the importance of emergency savings. Make it a habit to periodically review your plan to ensure you’re on track to meet your goals. If you’re feeling good about your situation, offer these ideas to a neighbor or family member who’s worried about their financial future.

While we’re not all facing the same challenges, we’ve all experienced some level of change. The good news is that you can prepare for retirement or any financial goal—even amidst the economic shocks of COVID-19. We’re here to support and guide you so your setbacks turn into successes.

Man cutting food grateful for his financial security.

*Catherine Tymkiw, 2021. How COVID-19 Changed Our Saving and Spending Habits.

**Christine Benz, 2020. What the Coronavirus Means for the Future of Financial Planning.

***Philip Jenks and Stephen Eckett, 2002. The Global-Investor Book of Investing Rules: Invaluable Advice From 150 Master Investors. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall PTR.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
We recommend that you consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual situation.

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