4 things COVID-19 teaches us about retirement planning

2020 seems to have thrown a wrench into everyones plans. From business owners, to students, to doctors, everyone is changing their way of life.

As things return to normal, it’s important to think back on the lessons we have learned so far from the Coronavirus pandemic.

1.) Expect the unexpected.

Everyday there is conflicting news about how the Coronavirus will spread. Although the impacts are huge, disease experts and statisticians can only guess the likelihood of certain events unfolding.

Much like the stock market, there is much speculation on how the Coronavirus will grow or shrink. Certain widespread actions like wearing masks or using hand sanitizer can help prevent outbreaks, but there is much uncertainty of the effectiveness in certain situations.

It is best to be prepared, even for the most unexpected situations. For Covid-19, that could mean wearing a mask, social distancing, and sanitizing. For your stock portfolio, being ready for the unexpected means a diverse portfolio.

2.) Friends and Family are everything.

Some families have been forced much closer with the nationwide lockdowns. Spouses now spend more hours together. Children now at home instead of at school.

While some families have grown closer, many more have been pushed apart. Seniors are often isolated, with their families too concerned for the potential of giving them a deadly disease to visit in person.

Whether the Coronavirus has kept you apart or forced you together, family has become more important for many. Your family, even if it is the family of friends that you have chosen, can ground you to the world. It is important for your mental health to be apart of something outside of yourself.

If you dedicate so much time to planning for retirement, investing, and saving that you are missing out on important time with family and friends, then it is time to re-evaluate your goals.

3.) It’s important to be your own boss.

Being your own boss does not necessarily mean you have to start your own business (although it can!). Being your own boss is about having the ability to choose what you want to do and when.

With nationwide Covid lockdowns, many are frustrated with a feeling that they are no longer in control of their own lives. Retirement planning is all about gaining financial independence, the ability to make decisions free of money.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has forced several people into early retirement either from layoffs or an inability to work after contracting Covid-19. Having a company in charge of your financial future is a position no one wants to be in. By planning and saving, you can minimize the risk of a sudden lay-off or the damage it can cause to your finances.

4.) Being healthy should be a priority.

Healthy people have gotten the Coronavirus, but people with comorbidities including obesity, liver disease, and smoking are at an increased risk of death.

I am in favor of frugailty in most things, but health is not one of them. By being cheap in your health you could end up with major expenses in the future. Of course, even extremely healthy people can get sick, but the risk of getting sick can be lessened.

Don’t cut corners by skimping out on your medical insurance. If you are able, contribute to a tax-advantaged HSA account.

Getting regular physicals, cancer screenings, and dentist visits are great ways of keeping your health in check. These visits are expensive, but pay off in the long run by minimizing costs in the future and potentially giving you more time for friends and family.

Food and exercise are another important way to stay healthy. Simple things like cutting out sugar, junk food, and eating a whole foods diet can improve your health. The Mcdonald’s Cheeseburger may be more expensive than a Whole Foods salad, but the benefits add up. A gym membership, or a new pair of running shoes, are cheap compared to the lifelong cost of diabetes or high-blood pressure medication.

Certain healthy habits can also cut costs. Drinking alcohol every night or binging every weekend adds up to a lot of money. Similarly, smoking gets increasingly more expensive as you need more nicotine to get the same buzz.

How has Covid-19 affected your finances and how are you planning ahead now? Share your story in the comments below.

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