Assets & Answers: 12.16.20
What is your best advice for starting 2021 off right?
No one will complain that 2020 is finally coming to an end. However, one thing we learned this year is how the uncertainty of a new, little understood virus can strike fear into our hearts and dramatically disrupt our lives. Fortunately, as 2020 draws to a close, the fear is beginning to dissipate as we have learned more about the virus, and the cloud of uncertainty is gradually lifting away. The vaccines that are soon to be available reflect this growing understanding and are leading to a lower level of trepidation.
As we contemplate the beginning of 2021, perhaps our 2020 experience has taught us something valuable: Fear is borne of uncertainty, and the way to move forward is through clear information and education to achieve better understanding. This absolutely applies to our financial lives as well.
For 2021, vow to ensure that you address uncertainty that is creating stress and fear around your financial future. Work to thoroughly understand the way your wealth is invested. Review your cash flows not only for 2021, but for the long term, including up to and throughout retirement. Are you on track? Is your portfolio properly structured to meet your goals? To address any uncertainty, prepare a list of questions that need to be researched and answered. If your adviser is not already proactively addressing these issues with you, request a meeting to ensure that you eliminate the gaps and start the new year without the stress and fear that uncertainty breeds.
As a banker, I’ve been taught the power of compound interest, the interest earned on interest. This phenomenon can translate to our daily lives and yield the same returns. As you search for ways to start 2021 off on the right foot, look for the areas where the smallest changes can lead to the returns you want. Our habits, both good and bad, are the result of actions repeated over time. We can’t immediately get in shape; it takes repeated discipline over time. Yet, when it comes to our New Year’s resolutions, we typically choose to focus on the most ambitious things, only to fail by February. Instead, set goals for small incremental changes. Tiny gains are much easier to start and achieve, and over time they add up! When you focus on the compounding effects of these daily habits, they are quite amazing. Just 1% better each day over the course of 365 days will provide amazing benefits. The results will be 38 times better—yes, 38 times. Do the math and see for yourself. It is the compound interest effect for our lives. Conversely, think about those bad habits. If they are making you 1% worse every day, you could be in trouble. It’s easy to fixate only on the result (see every single New Year’s resolution), but discipline and consistency always win the day. Focus on the tiny gains you can make each day, and perhaps 2021 can be your best year yet. After all, it has to be better than 2020, right?