By Frank Legan
It’s been just over a year since our world was first rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic, and while it may seem like life is slowly starting to rebound from isolation, many of us are still processing the psychological effects of the economic shutdown and the uncertainty it brought. As we shake off the dust and venture back out into the world, here are 4 money moves you can make to feel a little more prepared for the next unforeseen event.
1. Build Your Emergency Fund
As the old proverb says: “Prepare the umbrella before it rains.” Building an emergency fund is the same as preparing the umbrella—it is the foundation of financial preparedness. Generally, you should have enough money to cover 3-6 months of basic living expenses (mortgage, utilities, groceries, etc.). This money should be held in a highly liquid account so that it is readily available should an emergency occur. Look for an account that offers a competitive interest rate. You worked hard for that money, now put it to work for you.
2. Assess Your Budget and Make Cuts Where You Can
If the emergency fund is the umbrella, then budgeting and tracking expenses are the sturdy rainboots you wear when the storm clouds come rolling in. Tracking spending habits can be difficult, especially in trying times, but thankfully there are several apps that will do it for you. Once you have a good idea of where you currently spend money, you can begin to build a budget around where you want your money to go. This can be modified as needed as time goes by and life changes so that you are better prepared to withstand potential fluctuations in income.
3. Review Your Risk Management Strategy
Risk management is a great way to safeguard what you’ve already built. Unmanaged risk can mean the difference between maintaining an ample emergency fund or not having enough when you need it the most. Be sure to review your insurance policies, taking care to bring them up to adequate coverage levels. This should include life, health, auto, and homeowners insurance at a minimum, but disability, umbrella liability, and long-term care coverage should be considered as well. These risks are often overlooked and can be devastating to a financial plan. Making sure you are adequately covered now will save you time, money, and energy in the future.
4. Evaluate Your Investment Allocation and Risk Tolerance
Investment allocation and risk tolerance are important factors to consider when assessing financial preparedness. If your investment allocation does not align with your risk tolerance, it can lead to unwise investment decisions. It’s common for people to feel worried when they see their investment values fall during a financial crisis, but a properly diversified investment allocation specifically tailored to your level of risk tolerance can alleviate quite a bit of the stress surrounding market volatility. This helps to keep you invested through the downturns, so that you can benefit from the potential growth when the market eventually recovers. In this case, “stay the course” is tried-and-true advice, especially if you have a long time frame before retirement and a sufficient emergency fund to get you through difficult times.
Talk to a Financial Advisor!
Making smart financial decisions doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming and we at Cedar Brook Group are here to help you along the way. We have weathered the storm of COVID-19 and our office is now open to clients. Whenever you’re ready to take the next step in your financial journey, we’ll be here to walk with you through all of life’s most unexpected hurdles. Call 440-683-9213 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started today.
Frank Legan is Partner, Financial Advisor, and member of the Investment Committee at Cedar Brook Group, one of the largest independent wealth management firms in Northeast Ohio. Frank spends his days designing and implementing personalized financial planning strategies for corporate executives, closely held business owners, artists, families, and retirees. He specializes in lifetime income strategies, investment advice, and estate planning services. He also works with businesses to develop strategic and succession planning strategies. Frank has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Dayton, as well as a Master of Public Administration degree focused on municipal management from Cleveland State University. Prior to joining Cedar Brook Group, Frank was a financial advisor in the private client group at Merrill Lynch and with NatCity/PNC Investments. Frank is active in his community, serving on various councils, boards, and committees. When he’s not working, you can find Frank spending time with his wife, Laura, their daughter, Reese, and their beloved collie, Charlie. Frank and his family are volunteers at St. Francis of Assisi church in Gates Mills. Frank serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland. To learn more about Frank, connect with him on LinkedIn.
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