What I’m Doing With My Investments
In my role at Frontier Bank as a financial advisor, it is my privilege to help our customers navigate these difficult times. Naturally, everyone’s situation is different so allow me to explain what I’m doing with my finances now.
1. Review the budget – My wife and I took some time to look over our spending and like many others saw our spending decrease simply because we no longer go out.
Takeaway: Review your budget and spending needs.
2. Emergency Fund – No changes at the moment to our emergency fund. My wife and I have generally been on the more conservative side and maintained an emergency fund to cover 6 months of expenses.
Takeaway: After determining your month budget, make sure you have an emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of monthly expenses. In this time of uncertainty, I would argue it’s prudent to be more conservative and go with 6 months.
3. Review financial plan and re-balance the investments – One of the biggest benefits of having a financial plan is that your thinking shifts from a daily or even yearly perspective on your investments to multiple years or decades even. There is no temptation to try to time the market or make drastic changes when you realize that your financial plan accounts for drops in the market like we’ve recently seen.
That certainly doesn’t give one a pass to completely ignore your investments though. My wife and I’s retirement accounts consist of our retirement plans through our employers and I have a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA in my name. Both our retirement plans are basically set on autopilot. Our contributions go into our accounts every 2 weeks from our paychecks and our investments are re-balanced on a quarterly basis. My IRA’s are both held at Frontier Bank and are invested in the exact same models we use for our customers. Those models are monitored and re-balanced when needed. Due to the massive amount of volatility over the last two months, almost all our customer’s accounts have seen activity from re-balances, mine included.
Takeaway: Review your financial plan and your investments to ensure your accounts are still properly balanced. If you’re unsure of your current investment plan, please consider reaching out to a fee only financial advisor to assist you in this process.
4. Increase savings rate – Now we get to the part where I receive the most questions. Should I be buying right now? The simple answer for me is yes. Not because I have some brilliant insight into what the market will do in the near future, I assure you I do not. The reason I am investing more of my money right now is simply due to the fact that I have almost 30 years in front of me before I plan on touching the money in my retirement accounts and I believe this drop in the market represents a buying opportunity for long term investors. As a result, my wife and I both increased the percentage we are saving from our paychecks every two weeks. It’s entirely possible we decrease the amount we’re saving when the economy and market bounce back but it’s also likely we realize we never missed the extra money we were saving and leave them unchanged.
Takeaway: If you are a long-term investor, history has told us drops like we’ve experienced recently represent a buying opportunity. Consider increasing your savings rate if you are comfortable.
So that’s what I’m doing with my investments in this current crisis. It’s not the right approach for everyone, but hopefully it can help you determine what the right next steps are for you.
1 Based on the national average non jumbo interest checking rate according to the FDIC weekly national rates for the week of 3/23/2020.