The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted many facets of our lives, and our personal finances are no exception. As the year comes to a close, how are you feeling about your financial snapshot? And more importantly, how are you getting ready for the New Year?
If you’re feeling a little anxious about it all, you’re not alone. According to Thrivent’s Holiday and 2021 Outlook Report, only 19% of all survey respondents reported feeling more optimistic about their finances than they did at this time last year; 39% are feeling the same; and 40% are feeling less optimistic.1 The survey also found there’s a shared sense of concern among respondents regarding their financial outlook: 67% adults said they felt more “anxious” than “excited,” and 61% said they felt more “stressed” than “calm.”
However, when looking more closely at responses from those who have a financial strategy and those who don’t, there is a noticeable difference in terms of outlook going into 2021.
• 40% of those with a financial strategy are feeling “excited,” but that percentage drops to 25% for those without a financial strategy.
• 44% of people with a financial strategy are feeling “calm,” but that percentage drops to 34% for those without a strategy.
• 70% of respondents with a financial strategy are feeling “focused,” but that percentage drops to 52% for those without a strategy.
While it may be tempting to avoid looking at your personal finances all together, don’t ignore it. Despite the market volatility and economic uncertainty we’ve experienced this year, there are still steps you can take to achieve financial clarity.
Below are five suggestions from Thrivent for people who are looking to finish the year strong when it comes to their finances.
1. Devise a financial strategy: People often think of financial strategies as complex, multi-faceted plans — and some certainly can be. But don’t get intimidated; a financial strategy can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. Work with your financial professional to devise a personalized strategy that will help you make the most out of your resources. Make sure your strategy takes into account your current financial situation as well as your goals, values and beliefs.
2. Consolidate accounts: If you have worked more than one job, chances are you have old IRAs and employer retirement plans. This is a good time to consider combining various accounts into one. It can be easier to track and will help you simplify your financial snapshot.
3. Get an asset allocation check-up: Revisit how you’re allocating your assets with your financial professional. Now is an excellent time to have a conversation about risk tolerance — especially given the current environment.
In particular, it’s important to look at a portfolio’s mix of investments, particularly in light of the economic turmoil of 2020. The stock market has gone through incredible shifts this year and it’s important for you to revisit your financial portfolio to make sure your investment strategy is still on track with your goals in light of these changes.
4. Understand the impact of the low interest rate environment on personal finances: Historically low interest rates provide an opportunity to look at debt. Low interest rates can affect everything from credit card annual percentage rates (APRs) to mortgage and refinancing rates. Now is a good time to check if you can lower the amount you pay in interest over the long-term.
In addition, talk with your financial professional to see if there’s an opportunity to get a better rate of return on elements of financial savings. If you’re currently saving in more conservative products like savings accounts, money market accounts or CDs, the low interest rate environment could be hampering returns. Your financial professional can help you identify other ways to maximize your savings in balance with your risk tolerance.
5. Meet with a financial professional: You don’t have to navigate your finances alone. Set up time to meet with a financial professional and have a discussion about your unique needs and priorities — both in the short- term and long-term.
While having these conversations may initially feel uncomfortable, taking time to assess your current situation and build a financial strategy is well worth the effort. It will put you on a better financial footing and ensure that you’re ready to tackle the New Year with confidence — and positive momentum!
This article was prepared by Thrivent for use by local financial professionals Rebecca Wise at 11 E Philadelphia Ave, Boyertown, 610-839-8955; Bridgit Holly at 11 E Philadelphia Ave, Boyertown, 215-368-4888; and John Lauer in Morgantown, 610-286-5986.
1Thrivent’s Holiday and 2021 Outlook Report was conducted in partnership with data intelligence company Morning Consult and polled 2,200 adults across the country Nov. 10-12.