March 25, 2020
Okay, so let’s face it. Most of us have been cooped up in our houses for over a week now with very little human contact outside of the people we live with and the reality of that is simply this – it’s not easy. I think most people have a difficult time with change and nobody likes to be told what to do. This is a time in our lives we will all remember and our children will tell their children about the time they were out of school to combat the spread of the novel coronoavirus. Even though it’s an adjustment and we are all likely having moments that required deep breathing, this is the right thing to be doing. If you are not staying home, please start.
I tend to try to find the light in any dark situation. I think in this circumstance it’s difficult because the news is just so bad. Every time I turn on the television, I can’t go more than a half hour without listening to a press conference from public officials, news on the turbulent state of the financial markets, notifications of this illness spreading and people dying – it’s quite frankly depressing. If you are like me you may internalize a lot the angst that goes along with hearing these things because you are an empath. I find I am spending a lot of time on Headspace! How do we get through this without losing our minds? That’s an easy one. We need to find and focus on the silver linings.
I think human nature tends to gravitate toward the negative but these days I am seeing a lot of positives in a not so shiny situation. I am spending a lot of time on my laptop since I, like many people, am working remotely. I watch the financial markets like a hawk each day but with the whiplash we have been witnessing I need to fill the gaps with bright and cheery things. Despite what is in the news, there are a lot of cool things going on in the community right now. It warms my heart when I see people coming together to help each other and do good in the world. I love seeing that masks are being made and donated by people who are stuck at home and want to help. Local photographers are participating in the Front Step Project which is so cool, people are lining up to make donations to local food pantries to help families in need. Restaurants are helping feed school kids that need help. These are not things we see everyday.
And let’s not forget about those financial markets. Now, I am not saying that you should be looking at your investment statements every day. It will cause you to want to vomit right now, not going to lie. But let’s focus on the positives here also. In my almost eighteen years in this industry I have never seen prices on stocks as attractive as what I am seeing right now. The market was due for a correction before this pandemic began, but what compounded the problem causing the one-two punch is the oil war going on between Saudi Arabia and Russia. We are experiencing a snowball effect from two major situations and it’s presented stress on the markets. However, most of us are still accumulating money since we are in the earning phases of our lives. We are buying equities at rock bottom prices and as the markets stabilize and recover, we will have a front row ticket to significant increases in value within our investments. Asset allocation is extremely crucial to making your plan work for you and now is a great time to review this with your advisor. Is your stomach churning over the current situation or are you losing sleep at night? Are you excited to make bargain purchases? Have you looked at rebalancing your portfolio? History would indicate that the markets will recover, although performance is never guaranteed. These are all good questions that you should review with your advisor, and if you don’t have an advisor now may be a good time to consider one.
Life without coronavirus was stressful enough and now we are all in this together. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the importance of finding your headspace (read about it here if you haven’t yet) and that is becoming more and more important as we navigate through our new normal. Let’s also not forget that this situation is temporary and at point in the not too distant future life will be back to normal. We won’t have this extra time with our families at home, we may not cook as much as we are now because we are all dying to go out to eat. Our homes will not be as neat and organized as they probably are now because the business of living will resume. We will be running around to manage the hundreds of kid activities, sports games, parties, events, necessary and frivolous shopping expeditions. We will not have time to do the things we are able to right now.
So, let’s commit to enjoy this pause. Play more games with your children, do more cooking, and read that book you never have time to pick up. I am a voracious reader and have a library, literally, in my home! If you want to take up reading and don’t know where to start, I have plenty of suggestions, but one of the best books I’ve read is Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. It is a great story that I could not put down! I finished it halfway between Denver and Chicago on an airplane leaving me with nothing to read but the Delta magazine for the rest of the flight. Don’t watch the movie though – the book is far better! And if you have watched the movie you should still read the book. Remember, this will pass and like the old saying goes, patience is a virtue. Don’t forget to appreciate the silver linings.
Iris Buczkowski is the founder of Birch Wealth Management (birchwealth.com). Original content provided by Iris is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice.