I can’t tell you how often I talk to people who know they want financial planning but are waiting until the perfect moment to get started. Now, with a new bear market and massive economic uncertainty, people are doubling down on that intention. I know I need to work on my finances…soon, just not now.
Whenever I hear the good intentions, I shake my head and encourage them that the right time is now. The fact is you don’t need to wait for a good hair day to get started on your financial plan. There is no better time than the present, especially during times of uncertainty.
I know this is the right time because my first financial plan was in the fall of 2008. I had gotten married the year before and Jeff, my husband, and I sat down with a colleague who is a certified financial planner to figure out a roadmap for our money and future.
I pulled out that decade-old plan just last month as I rifled through some papers looking for a document. The suggestions and guidance we received in those uncertain moments laid the foundations for a decade of sound financial decisions. We updated our estate plan, started saving for college when our kids were born, boosted retirement investments, and paid down debt. All these decisions were born out of a plan during a dark and uncertain time.
Here’s why bear market financial planning is a great time to get started.
Financial planning is meant to see your imperfections
More and more, I discuss financial shame in the context of the financial planning process. Everybody thinks the people around them are better with money. Insecurity can be a major roadblock to getting started on your financial plan.
The financial planning process is meant to see the REAL you, warts and all. You can receive confirmation and validation for decisions that are helping your circumstances and formulate a game plan for weaknesses.
When do you feel less confident and more imperfect than during market turmoil? Jobs are fleeting or uncertain, account values are down. Loss hurts more than gain so during bear markets your accomplishments feel smaller and your missteps seem bolder. This is the perfect time for the rational mirror of a financial plan to assess your next move.
You pay for delays in starting your plan
Working on your financial plan earlier is always preferable. This gives you more time for opportunity and less days with unnecessary risk. A financial planner should assist you with the implementation of your financial plan. For most of us, that is the most important part of the process. Each year that you can incorporate wise, personal financial decisions across all aspects of your money life is a reward to your current and future self.
Recessions and bear markets are a time for triage and adaptability
You need to be quick on your feet during difficult time periods. In this case, we’re talking about circumstances outside of your control – the economy and markets. But the same goes when you have personal experiences you weren’t expecting including the loss of a job, death of a loved one, or another tragedy.
Financial plans are built to anticipate the sunny days and the rainy days. They often analyze your current situation while helping you to plan for what’s next in a variety of environments. Why not get the assistance of sound, professional advice during your most stressed, least certain time periods? That time is likely something that looks a lot like now.
You need to offset your negative feedback loop
There’s only so much loss and anxiety a person can take. When you’ve had to rewrite the script in a way that you weren’t expecting, it’s easy to only see less. Avoiding a scarcity mentality in dark moments can be critical.
I’ve cherished the opportunity to have conversations with worried investors in recent weeks. The opportunity to discuss what is realistically a permanent impairment versus what may be temporary is so important. Start with a conversation, then follow through with the important process aspects of financial planning.
Out of the ashes rises the phoenix
When you have the benefit of hindsight, difficult and depressing circumstances can be filled with opportunity. In order to position yourself to take advantage of future possibilities, depressed valuations, or strategic adjustments, you need to be tuned in and prepared to make decisions. Why not tackle those possibilities through a disciplined process that is personalized to you?
Why not now?
So why not get started? While no investment strategy can guarantee you will reach your financial objectives, having a wealth thought out financial plan can help ensure you stay on track to meet those goals. If you agree that the time to take control of your money with the financial planning process is now, make the next move.