Before the pandemic struck, Millennials were already facing financial challenges with steady work sometimes hard to come by and housing prices often out of reach. The current situation is adding to the complexity that those currently in their early 20s to late 30s are being forced to navigate.
Fortunately, there’s plenty that Millennials can do to shift their finances in a positive direction – even in the midst of the ongoing crisis – and position themselves to thrive financially in the long term.
For a start, it helps to go back to basics.
At 28, Alex is a few years into his career as a UX designer. He lives and works in downtown Toronto, where he usually makes the most of the city’s lively restaurant scene and nightlife (or he did, pre-COVID). Living close to the action for a minimal commute and maximum time with friends is important for Alex, so he’s saving up to buy his first condo in the city.
Alex is fortunate to have a job when so many across the country are currently out of work. His biggest challenge is that he’s fairly erratic in how he manages his finances. While he has a savings account where he sets aside money when he can toward a condo down payment, he doesn’t have any investments to speak of and racks up large credit card bills each month.
He’s clear on the lifestyle he envisions for himself in the years ahead, but not on how to achieve it.
A clear, simple plan
Alex is in a pretty good position, but he could be doing a fair bit better with a few strategic changes to his financial habits. And while we may be on the downslope of the current pandemic, applying long-term thinking to his money can put Alex in a better position to ride out future bumps in the road.
If Alex’s situation sounds familiar, here are three things you can consider to get on a better financial trajectory.
- Keep it simple. Financial planning doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as straightforward as figuring out how to set aside a bit of money each month to pay off debt and make small contributions to an investment account. With a simpler plan, you’re more likely to stay on track since you’ll understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
- Gain clarity. It may feel like everyone but you has their finances in order, but the reality is that many people have financial blind spots. If you’re feeling uncertain, one the of the best things you can do is ask questions and seek out advice.
- Start early. You already know that the sooner you start saving and investing, the better. What you may not realize is that even small amounts can make a huge difference over time, and that it’s never too late to start.
Putting in place a clear, simple plan can be beneficial for anyone who’s struggling with financial uncertainty. If you’re stressed out by the current situation and worried about the future, this is likely a good place to start.
Get on track
This pandemic will pass, yet new challenges are almost certain to arise in the years and decades ahead. For Millennials, living your desired lifestyle requires a proactive approach to ensure your finances can weather any future storm. This means going back to basics with a clear, simple and effective plan tailored to your unique needs.
If you’d like to discuss your financial goals and gain clarity on how to achieve them, Rubach Wealth can help. Contact us today at ww.www.rubachwealth.com
Together, we got this.
This blog post is part of Rubach Wealth’s Back to Basics series highlighting how focusing on financial planning fundamentals can help you stay on course toward your long-term goals during these uncertain times.
It feels like time has turned upside down during the pandemic. Working from home has disrupted our schedules, and the intense news cycle has us living our lives one day at a time. It’s hard to believe how much and how quickly things have changed since Canada went into lockdown only about six weeks ago.
Amid this uncertainty, it is no surprise that many people have adopted a short-term mindset. Yet it is precisely during times of day-to-day volatility that sticking with long-term strategies helps us avoid costly mistakes.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll be publishing a series of Back to Basics blog posts highlighting how focusing on financial planning fundamentals can help you stay on course toward your long-term goals during these uncertain times. In this first article of the series, we look at the big picture of what going back to basics means.
Proactive, not reactive
Sound financial planning is first and foremost proactive, not reactive.
If a major event such as the loss of a job disrupts your life, then of course it might significantly impact your finances and require you to take action. However, if your financial plan has prepared for such a contingency – for example, with an emergency fund to cover six months of living costs – you are less likely to be forced into costly decisions that are not in your long-term interest.
The booming stock markets in recent years lulled many of us into complacency, thinking only of the upside. The pandemic has brought those days to an abrupt end. It has also served as a reminder of the importance of proactively protecting our financial well-being with fundamentals such as diversification, insurance and long-term investing.
Different needs, different strategies
Our financial needs vary depending on our age, career stage, family situation and personal circumstances. Everyone is unique, so financial planning needs to be tailored to individual requirements.
This means that financial planning fundamentals should be customized to align strategically with your personal needs. For example:
- Alex is 28, living and working in downtown Toronto, and saving up to buy his first condo. For Alex, financial planning fundamentals include putting in place a clear, simple plan aimed at growing his assets.
- Eve is 42, has a thriving legal career and is concerned about saving enough for retirement. For Eve, financial planning fundamentals include safely investing for the future while freeing up more time to enjoy with her family.
- Mike is 48, runs a profitable consulting firm and worries that his finances are not optimized. For Mike, financial planning fundamentals include identifying tax-efficient structures that will see more money staying in his pocket.
- Alice is 67, loving retirement and eager to know that her money will not run out. For Alice, financial planning fundamentals include putting in place a plan for wealth preservation so she can enjoy peace of mind in her golden years.
Over the next four weeks, we’ll continue this Back to Basics series with a closer look at each of these four profiles.
We got this
The pandemic offers a powerful reminder of the value of going back to basics. Financial planning doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but it should be thoughtful, strategic and focused on the long term.
If the recent upheaval has you worried that you’ve missed your chance, don’t worry: it is never too late to embrace the fundamentals to stay on course toward your long-term goals.
If you’d like to discuss your situation and find out how Rubach Wealth can help, contact us at 647-349-7070. Together, we got this.
If you’re like me, the days are definitely blurring one into the next. I certainly recognize that the current stay-at-home measures are in place for good reason, and my heart goes out to all the people struggling with the medical, financial and emotional toll this crisis is taking.
At the same time, I’m not great at sitting around and waiting. I like making plans and taking action. So as we all put in the effort now to beat this virus, I’m also looking to the future and asking an important question from a financial planning perspective: how can we use this crisis to grow stronger?
The current crisis is the best reminder in a generation of how important long-term thinking is in financial planning. When financial markets started to drop sharply in recent months, we saw a lot of panic among investors. With stock prices falling, many people rushed to sell investments, driven by an acute sense of self-preservation. This is understandable, but it was also quite harmful, resulting in significant losses for some.
How we grow stronger: By reaffirming our commitment to long-term financial planning. Resisting the impulse to react to short-term shocks and instead remaining focused on long-term goals will prevent emotional responses from disrupting our sound investment strategies.
Diversification has long been a foundational aspect of financial planning. However, as the stock market soared in recent years, it was easy to be lulled into a false sense of overconfidence. Lower-risk investments like bonds and life insurance were seen as less attractive when equity markets were offering sky-high returns, yet the current crisis has provided a stark reminder of why a diversified investment portfolio is beneficial.
How we grow stronger: By acknowledging the important role of diversification in creating a resilient financial plan. With diversified investment portfolios, we can strengthen our ability to maintain balanced growth in different market conditions.
Preparedness and protection
With the exception of infectious disease experts, few among us could have anticipated the current crisis, yet here we are in the thick of it. For many, this has been a painful reminder of how unexpected events can disrupt our lives. It is impossible to prepare for every eventuality and to mitigate every risk, but the better prepared we are, the easier it becomes to adapt to challenging situations.
How we grow stronger: By taking proactive steps to protect ourselves against risks. Setting aside emergency funds, ensuring some of our investments offer principal protection and putting in place robust insurance coverage are all important steps we can take to prepare for the next crisis.
Growing stronger together
The ongoing pandemic has provided a clear reminder that no one has a crystal ball offering all the answers. The scale of the current crisis and the disruption it has caused have been a shock to everyone.
At the same time, the upheaval we have seen is a good reminder of the enduring importance of financial planning fundamentals. Having thoughtful conversations, seeking out expert advice and remaining committed to long-term strategies will help us learn from this crisis and grow stronger.
Although we’re still in the midst of one crisis, that shouldn’t prevent us from taking action to prepare for the next one.
When you read the endless negative news these days, it can make you want to crawl under your blanket and wait out the craziness. But that’s not who I am.
Entrepreneurs sign up for uncertainty from the get-go. While no one wants the current situation, it’s here and we need to face it.
Amid all the current social and economic upheaval, here are some of the questions I’m asking myself and areas I’m focusing on to stay motivated and focused on the future in these unusual times.
What am I learning from this?
Business owners are constantly looking for new ways to deliver value and stay connected in difficult moments and beyond. The fact that we’re facing an incredibly challenging time right now means there are also incredible opportunities for learning and growth.
When the restrictions are lifted, will you be ready to come out of the gate at a run?
It starts with commitment. While there’s still plenty of work to be done, many of us have at least some extra time in our day now that we’re working from home. What can you do to improve yourself during this isolation period?
From taking courses and conducting industry research to enhancing your marketing capabilities, there’s plenty of legwork you can do now that will help you kickstart growth once we emerge from this lockdown.
Am I rising to the challenge?
When facing challenging times like this, you can sink or you can rise. And if you need extra motivation to help you decide which way you’re headed, remember that people need you. Always keep in mind that someone looks up to you and you’re someone’s example, whether for your children, your team or your peers.
It’s completely normal to have not so great days, but you have to pull yourself together – both for your own sake and for those for whom you are responsible.
Where are the opportunities?
It’s difficult not to be distracted by the upsetting news that’s bombarding us every day, but I’m training my eyes on the future.
Going forward, I believe that traditional financial planning and insurance will change. I’m seeing a flight towards security with a need for more comprehensive planning and stronger relationships with advisors. Even more than before, we need to be constantly asking ourselves as a team: how can we create value today? Answering this question will reveal valuable opportunities.
I also see great potential for more and better communication in everything we do. Like many others suddenly thrust into working from home, we faced a steep learning curve in figuring out how to communicate effectively using video conferencing apps and other tools available. We’re still getting better at it, but our team is now meeting more often than before and benefiting from this increased communication.
We’re also ramping up communication with our clients. We want to help our clients feel confident and cared for while providing clarity about their current situation and options for the future. The current circumstances have also forced us to show a more human side of ourselves, exposing more of our vulnerability and empathy, which has allowed us to connect with our clients on a different level. We are checking in with our clients simply to know how they are doing and how they are navigating this new normal, and this authentic interest is appreciated.
What am I grateful for?
Rather than dwelling on sadness or frustration of the current situation, I’m channelling my energy toward gratitude. As a society, we have an immense respect for frontline workers and their families. The already deserved enormous gratitude before all this began, and now this is infinitely more apparent.
From a work perspective, I have a reinvigorated sense of gratitude towards our network in general and our clients in particular. Without their trust, understanding and support, it would be difficult to press ahead. I am also unbelievably grateful for my team. Their dedication and understanding are helping us pull through this together, and they’re helping me focus on the fun times we’ve shared and the ones we look forward to once this is over.
Personally, I’m thoroughly enjoying time with my children instead of being stuck in traffic. I’m embracing the opportunities to grow closer with my family and gain clarity on what’s really important to me. Meanwhile, my kids are discovering what it is to have parents at home all the time (most of the time it’s great, but the level of discipline and expectations have definitely gone up!).
I’m also loving the opportunity to reconnect with so many I hadn’t been in touch with for ages. Both now and once this is over, I’m looking for people who add to my life – those whom I admire, those whom I can laugh with, those whom I can cry with but who will quickly whip me into shape, and those with contagious positivity.
Back to basics
It’s easy to lose perspective amid the stress of uncertain times, so I find it helps to focus on the fundamentals.
As advisors and as individuals, there’s only so much we can do and control right now. By getting back to basics, simplifying our lives and our businesses, and staying focused on the better days ahead, we can remain motivated and optimistic during these difficult days.
We don’t have time to hide under a blanket – there’s work to do.
Small business owners are often reluctant to spend money or make changes during an economic downturn. However, downturns can be an ideal time to invest in your business and improve day-to-day operations in ways that will have lasting effects.
Every market downturn creates opportunities for innovative business owners. Rather than simply worrying about the situation and hoping things will get better, now is the time to proactively strengthen your operations and position yourself for growth when the economy recovers.
Use this time as an opportunity to reach out to existing customers and ask questions. Reach out to clients you haven’t spoken with in a while and see how they are doing. Such a simple action now can pay off immensely in terms of goodwill and opportunities for referrals once the market improves.
Networking during an economic downturn can be useful to understand how other businesses are coping. See what is working for them or where they require help. You may also discover new opportunities, customers, staff, suppliers and business partners with minimal cost to your business. Consider forming alliances with other businesses and look for opportunities to pair your service or product with something that complements it.
Work with your team
Build morale and motivation by clearly communicating with your team what is happening within the business. Try to involve them in decision-making and finding solutions. This is a great opportunity for you and your staff to enhance your skills. If there’s a course that someone has always wanted to take or if they have always wanted to learn about a different part of the business, this may be a great time for them to undertake additional duties.
Test your contingency plan
As a small business owner, you have ideally planned for market downturns and have strategies in place to activate during times of disruption. Now is an excellent time to review those plans to see what is working and what can be improved upon amid these unprecedented circumstances.
Review your expenses
Reach out to your bank and negotiate lower interest rates on loans or banking fees. During economic downturns, most banking institutions are more than happy to retain business and help their loyal clients. This isn’t limited to banking. Reach out to vendors that provide you services and see if there are opportunities where you can renegotiate terms or costs. Remember, they are going through the same market conditions you are.
Use the resources available to you
There are many provincial and federal programs available to support you and your business during tough economic times. Take a look at the Government of Canada’s website to see resources available close to where you live.
You’ve worked hard to build your business and create the life you want for yourself and your family and we want to help you protect it. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.
If you’re a woman, you should do something this Sunday you may have never done. It will save you untold dollars. It will cost you a coffee.
You should sit down with your partner (male or female) and “have the talk” – the talk about money.
After all, Sunday is International Women’s Day. What better time to say: “Let’s talk about how your money and my money are going to secure us and the kids into the future and after we’re gone.”
When it comes to wealth, empowerment doesn’t just come from having more money, but having more information. Not knowing your partner’s financial situation could mean a lot of their wealth directed your way could end up in Ottawa.
Do you know the details of your life partner’s wealth? Does (s)he know yours? Why not?
Don’t you want your future to be less stressful than more? How can it be if you don’t talk about money which will play such a big role in de-stressing your future?
“We’ll be fine, honey,” isn’t what I mean. That’s not a conversation; it’s a blow-off.
But large numbers of high-achieving women fail to even ask about their partner’s money, let alone discuss it.
You may be a brilliant architect or surgeon. But just because you don’t know much about money doesn’t mean you should be shy in raising your hand to ask. Guilt and shame aren’t great planning tools.
This is especially true if you’re from an immigrant culture where talking about your money – either between spouses or between generations is simply never done.
But I’m from two of those cultures, and I not only ask “Why not?”, but “Why are you throwing away so much of your wealth because you won’t talk about your family’s money with your family?”
Here’s why that conversation is so crucial. In just the next 10 years, well over a trillion dollars in assets will transfer from older Canadians to their children. Most of that astounding sum will shift without any meaningful conversation around its care and feeding. You can buy a ton of books and go to endless seminars, but if you don’t have a specific, meaningful and ongoing conversation with your family about money, you’ll end up with less of it than you deserve.
So, saying to your profligate teen, “When I die, don’t spend it all in one place,” or to your unwitting spouse, “My financial adviser has it all under control,” aren’t conversation-starters; they’re conversation-stoppers.
Any conversation about money is really about values. Do you want money to give you a bigger life, or a more private one? Do you feel the world needs your money so much more than you do? Do you really think that? Or are you saying it because it will make mom and dad feel good? How do you ensure your kids learn the value of a dollar? It will likely be different from how you did.
If your grandkids are sentient beings, why not invite them to join the conversation too? After all, 75% of Canadians’ family fortunes today are gone by the end of the second generation and 90% of that family’s wealth is gone by the end of the third generation. And I’m not just speaking here of billionaires, but of middle-class families most of whose wealth is in their homes and their RRSPs.
One way to keep that from happening with your family is to ask its third generation to the table when they’re young. How else are they going to get comfortable – and smart – about something that could change the course of their lives?
I’ve also learned that many families have a bi-polar view of their money.
Some opt for endless complexity, assuming that will make them tax efficient. But if that efficiency is bought at the cost of no one in your family knowing how to understand and untangle it all, is it really all that great to save on taxes while sacrificing openness and clarity to the very people who carry your values in their genes?
Other people are at the opposite pole. They’re afraid that revealing too much will create hopes and obligations, which leads to a stoic silence. Or they haven’t even bothered to get a Will, thereby almost guaranteeing too much of their wealth will end up in Ottawa.
Or, the men in the family persist in controlling not only the family’s financial planning, but its financial conversations as well. This, despite the fact that close to half of Boomer women are the main decision maker in their family’s financial planning and “for Millennials the figure rises to 73%.”
Few families come together at the table like they do in a Norman Rockwell painting. We’re all dysfunctional, and money is at the root of far too much alienation and separation among the 7 billion family members who roam the earth with us.
So why not text, call or e-mail your family now and say: “Sunday is International Women’s Day. I want to celebrate by sitting down and talking about money.”
What better way is there to empower yourself as a woman than this?