As I write this, the U.S. stock market is continuing the crazy swings we’ve been enduring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the market has continued sideways in May, we have just ended a historic market period. We had one of the worst months in market history in March. The U.S. stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 index of large stocks, fell by 35.41 percent from Feb. 19 to Mar. 23. Then we had the best month since 1987 in April. The S&P 500 rose by 32.87 percent from Mar. 23 to Apr. 30.
Dark economic indicators during COVID-19
The markets aren’t the only things acting crazy. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced much of the economy to cut back or shut down. And you can see the damage in the data:
- As of Apr. 25, we have seen record unemployment with 30 million first-time unemployment claims over six weeks.
- In March, consumer spending fell by a record 7.5 percent.
- Industrial product slid by the most since World War II at 5.4 percent in March.
- The April report from ADP, the payroll company, shows more than 20 million people lost their jobs during April.
That’s a lot of bad news. And the pandemic is not over. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that, as of May 6, the total deaths exceeded 70,000.
Keep calm and carry on
I am reminded of a quote from novelist Jack London: “Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes playing a poor hand well.”
Until the country has the pandemic under control, people will not return to stores and to work. Until we all return to work, the economy cannot recover. So, remember, right now patience is critical as we work to beat this disease. I believe in America and I’m sure that we will get through this. But it will continue to be difficult.
This current crisis reminds us that things don’t always go as planned. As a fiduciary CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional, I am dedicated to helping my clients create plans that will get them safely to their goals, especially when things don’t go as planned. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
The importance of grit
It’s times like this that call for grit. I have heard a lot of talk about grit in recent months. Psychologists describe grit as a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state.
I love grit. I was raised by German farmers to believe that a person’s willingness to persevere and to endure hardship in pursuit of a goal was a trait to be admired.
Experts identify five characteristics of grit:
- Courage. The courage of your convictions. A willingness to stay the course, especially when it’s unpleasant.
- Conscientiousness. Conscientiousness is defined as the personality trait of being thorough, careful, or vigilant. Make a good plan. Use a good process.
- Perseverance. Stay the course, even when it’s uncomfortable.
- Resilience. Don’t be deterred by bad news.
- Passion. Be clear on what you believe and don’t lose sight of the big picture.
As you consider your financial goals, summon up all your grit. These are times to be clear on what matters to you. Stay focused on your goals and priorities. Have the courage to continue to pursue your goals in these difficult times.
How a financial planner can help
If you would like some professional advice to assure that your financial resources are in alignment with your financial goals and priorities, I suggest you start by talking with a couple CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals.
To find a CFP® professional near you, start your search here.
As you visit with financial planners, I suggest a couple things to check:
- Is the advisor always the client’s advocate – a fiduciary advisor?
- Is the advisor only paid by clients, not any financial product manufacturer or distribution network? That would be a fee-only advisor.
These two points help assure that you are working with a professional who is committed to your best interest at all times. It seems sort of obvious to me that a professional would work in this way, but it’s not automatic.
A fiduciary, fee-only, CFP® professional can help you make great retirement income choices and develop a comprehensive financial plan that is driven by your goals and priorities and addresses all aspects of your financial life. With a big-picture approach, you will be better prepared to understand your options at every step along the way.
Yes, I am a CFP® professional. I’m always a fiduciary and I only work on a fee basis. And yes, I’m still taking on a few great families to be part of my financial planning practice.
If this article has you thinking about your own circumstances, contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always happy to meet with people who are working on their retirement plans. Dunncreek Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice, nor is this article intended to do so.