To our clients and community,
Well, our lives look different now than they did a few weeks ago.
Many of us have experienced things we never imagined: walking into a crowded market with empty shelves; saying “hello” to our neighbors from a safe distance of 6 feet; wiping down groceries; counting our toilet paper rolls carefully; and perhaps the most surreal of all – staying home 24/7! We want to share a collection of ideas (some are from you!) that we hope will be helpful in supporting our financial, physical and emotional wellness during this challenging time. We also invite you to continue the conversation by sending us any additional tips to add.
With the alarming headlines, market swings, and uncertainty about the unfolding situation, fear and anxiety are a natural response.
As long term investors, we know that investments do not rise in a straight line and to expect volatility from time to time. However, when the time does come it is always unnerving. The terrific returns of the past eleven years have come with very little volatility. And when you’ve become comfortable watching the market consistently go up, it can be jarring to watch it swing and decline. But remember: we have experienced other notable declines in 2011 and 2018. In both cases, the market recovered and reached new highs within five months.
To put today’s markets in context, the S&P 500 Index ended 2019 up 451% from its bottom in March of 2009. The S&P 500 is now walking back some of that gain. It feels scary, but it hasn’t taken away most of the gains we’ve enjoyed over the past eleven years. That said, things could get worse before they get better and markets will need greater clarity on the outbreak itself as well as the policy response before stabilizing.
So far the US Federal Reserve Bank cut interest rates to near 0% and announced a new “quantitative easing” program to inject liquidity into the financial system to support the smooth functioning of capital markets. The US government drafted a stimulus bill intended to blunt the expected economic impact of the virus, the effects of which remain to be seen. We expect earnings will be hit hard in 2020, but we also see COVID-19 as a crisis that will pass.
In the meantime, here are some key things to keep in mind:
It is likely that in the next few days we will see a flurry of new confirmed cases in the US. Keep in mind that this may be a result of more widespread testing rather than a sign of rapid spreading of the disease. Avoid making decisions out of panic.
Stick to your financial plan
To quote Warren Buffet, “The market transfers wealth from the impatient to the patient.” In volatile markets emotions run especially high and these are times when the average investor makes costly investing mistakes. This is the time to be patient and work your plan.
Mind your liquidity bucket
Keep healthy cash reserves. This is important for practical reasons (change in employment, planned or unexpected expenses), for peace of mind, and it helps to keep your long-term investments intact.
Invest excess cash strategically
Families with excess cash (more than they need to fund their liquidity buckets) may consider putting cash to work strategically. If you’re concerned about market volatility, we can discuss easing your money into the market, what we call “dollar cost averaging” over time.
Explore harvesting tax losses
When an investment has declined we can sell and replace it with something “substantially similar” (to use IRS lingo) and pocket the loss to to offset portfolio gains during the year. This applies to taxable accounts and not retirement accounts.
With rates to near zero, the weeks and months ahead may be an opportune time to explore refinancing mortgages or lines of credit.
Pre-fund retirement accounts
Those of you with retirement plans can consider pre-funding your plans for the year and investing within them to benefit from stocks being less expensive now than they were at recent highs.
Something our team is remembering is how important it is to stay grounded and take good care of ourselves during times of uncertainty. We offer these suggestions from our hearts:
We love and thrive on routine. We have found it immensely helpful to keep to our normal routines as much as possible and to fill in any gaps (ex. going to the gym) with something positive (like exercising at home).
We know that we feel better when we are in nature, but we find we need to remind ourselves to go outside! Some activities we are looking forward to:
- Hiking (at a safe distance)
- Having tea outside
- Working in the garden
- Taking the dog for a walk
We find it calming and grounding to breathe mindfully on a daily basis.
- If you’re new to mindfulness, check out resources like apps Calm or Headspace.
- UCLA also has a Mindful Awareness Research Center that offers a wealth of information and tips for people of any experience level.
- Anne’s meditation teacher is also offering a grounding meditation for the community on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 am PT / 12 PM EST.
With many of our workout routines interrupted, finding alternatives is important to our physical and mental well-being.
- Virtual Exercise Classes:
- Dance!: For the simplest workout of all, turn on your favorite music and move. Enjoy the therapeutic benefits of listening to tunes that make you happy and break a sweat at the same time. (You might kick it off with “You Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated” by The Offspring :))
What are the creative projects on your “someday” list? What did you love doing as a kid? Could now be the time when you liberate the instrument that’s buried deep in storage or pick back up a paint brush? Creative expression is another form of self-care.
Anne’s mother is a retired physical therapist and reminded us of the importance of stretching, especially after prolonged periods of sitting (working from home) or reading with a craned neck. She suggests stretching after a warm shower when the muscles are warm (in a safe place with something firm to hold on to).
Care for Virus Anxiety
Whether you are having fleeting moments of anxiety or you’re having trouble keeping your head above water, most people are experiencing some sort of anxiety right now.
It can be helpful to connect with a mental health professional and explore online resources like virusanxiety.com, a site that Mental Health America specifically developed to cater to coronavirus concerns.
Arts and Culture
Cultural institutions are now sharing performances and tours:
- The Metropolitan Opera is streaming nightly from its archives and the Berlin Philharmonic is live-streaming concerts.
- Also see: Music to Endure the Coronavirus Quarantine
- All the virtual concerts, plays, museums, and other culture you can enjoy from home and
- What to Watch, Read and Listen to During Your Coronavirus Self-Quarantine
In this stressful time, we have been reminded that what we eat affects the way we feel.
- Thank you to the wonderful client who passed along her favorite chicken soup recipe and inspired us to get out the cookbooks. She recommended using the cooked chicken for chicken salad or chicken enchiladas, and to freeze some of the stock for later.
- If you have other favorite recipes, send them along!
Questions that have come up in many of our conversations with you have been “How can I be of service? How can I help my community now?” Here are a few ideas and please send others if you have them.
Many of our small, local businesses are suffering right now. To support them you might consider buying a gift card to enjoy in the future.
COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting lower-income communities. Consider contributing food or funds to your local food bank.
Connect with others
- Check in with the people in your life to ask how they’re doing and consider reaching out to people you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Arrange a coffee date or a “quarantini” happy hour with friends on Zoom, Skype or Google Hangout.
- For more ideas, see: The Art of Socializing During a Quarantine
It’s in all of our best interests to follow social distancing protocols but that doesn’t mean we have to feel isolated. We are all “home, together” – reach out to us anytime. We are here to support you and guide you each step of the way.
Your partners at Created