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2020 - The Worst Year Ever… Really?

Time magazine declared 2020 the “worst year ever”, drawing a red “X” over the year. If you lost a loved one, had to close your business or a job loss, I understand it was a bad year. 

We, like many, were fortunate to only have to balance the stress of the unknown, care for aging parents and school-age kids, ensure continued growth of a business and minimize distractions for work to avoid job loss. Yet, 2020 created several opportunities in areas of financial planning. 

Here are a few positive realizations:

Refinancing Boom. Whether it was your house, car or student loans, a prominent theme was refinancing to lower rates and shorter terms. Even if refinanced in 2019, the drop in 15-year mortgage rates was something to be thankful for. 

You Can Save More. Notice you weren’t spending as much each month? You weren’t alone, many decided to revisit (or make) a budget, find frivolous expenses and where to cut for good.

Experience Spending. “You don’t know what you’ve got, til it’s gone”, wrote Joni Mitchell (and later hair-metal band Cinderella). Miss travel, concerts, shows, sporting events and kids activities? 

Use this as an opportunity to prioritize your experience spending and thoughtfully plan the vacations, family time and/or seasons for when the time comes. 

Planning For The Unexpected. A global pandemic makes people see gaps in estate planning, insurance and access to emergency funds. Add job loss or health changes, updating a trust/will, qualifying for term insurance or obtaining a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) can be difficult, thus why critical to execute when times are good. 

Still, witnessed estate planning attorneys, insurance agents, local banks and credit unions take proactive measures to help people access, do it safely and gain peace of mind. 

Investing. Remember March? Stick with your plan? Or waiting for a crash to invest? What did you do? 

As of 12/21/20, US stock market (S&P 500 Index) is over +15% and US Aggregate Bond Index about +7% for 2020, a very good year for those who knew their risk tolerance, what they owned and why they owned it.  

Work From Home (WFH). Something previously available to road warriors and trusted few, WFH was a blessing or curse, pending your child’s school or daycare status. It has led to greater appreciation for our teachers and childcare workers, better technology management and desire for housing with outdoor space as a priority over length of commute.  

What will 2021 bring?
Who knows.

Focus on treating your family and yourself by developing plans and then be willing to make them evolve. 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Glenn Brown is a Holliston resident and owner of PlanDynamic, LLC, Glenn is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ helping motivated people take control of their planning and investing, so they can balance kids, aging parents and financial independence.