Now is a good time to start planning for your financial future

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At 6 a.m., we hear our 8-month-old baby start to babble through the monitor. My wife heads to the baby’s room to offer her a bottle, and I quickly shower, put on my usual work attire (dress shirt, gym shorts and slippers), and take the dog for her morning walk. The day has begun.

We are now halfway through 2020. My wife reminds me that it is day 82 of our personal quarantine. We are both working from home. She has claimed our home office, and I am left with the dining room table.

While self-isolating, we have tried things we normally would have never even thought about. We have given each other haircuts, groomed our dog, cooked just about all meals at home, learned to bake bread, and learned what we can and can’t live without.

I am sure this story sounds familiar – this is life for many of us during the pandemic. And while it is a lot more stressful and frightening than either my wife or I could have imagined, we try to look for the silver lining.

We are blessed that we have our health, and our jobs, and can spend more time with our baby daughter. The hardest part for us is the social distancing. Still, we have managed to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and even a bris on Zoom!

So, what does all of this have to do with personal finance? A lot more than you might think ….

Self-quarantining is giving us a sneak peek of what life could be like in retirement. While most of us look forward to retiring, it does present some challenges that we need to face: We lose our routines, some social connectedness, and some or all of our incomes.

I have spoken with many clients, and have found that they generally fall into two groups – those who say “I am never retiring!” and those who say, “I want out!” Whichever group resonates with you, it is important to have a plan in place, and to challenge every aspect of that plan. For example, don’t just count on the income from working forever because changes in health and the economy can quickly force you to change lanes.  

Developing a financial plan is just about the most important thing you can do for the security of yourself and your family. The other big item that I would suggest that everyone move to the top of their priority list is an estate plan.

Only half of Americans have an estate plan. I think one of the many reasons for this is that creating one is uncomfortable – no one likes thinking and talking about their own mortality. But the more prepared we are in this area, the easier it will be on our loved ones when we pass. Now is as good a time as any to have a glass of wine and start a dialogue.

Now, please excuse me while I go get the next baby bottle ready.  I hope I have left you with a couple of things to think about during these strange times.

JASON E. SIPERSTEIN, CFA, CFP, is the president of the Financial Planning Association of RI and president of Eliot Rose Wealth Management. Contact him at jes@eliotrose.com.