Steady as they go (03/17/2020)

We are in the midst of scary times. There is a lot of uncertainty about the coronavirus. Our government officials are shutting down schools, churches, restaurants, bars and all other places and events where we tend to gather in groups. In fact, just before I wrote this, President Trump held a news conference advising people to avoid gathering in groups larger than 10. This is good advice that we should heed to protect our health and that of our loved ones.

Steady as they go

We are in the midst of scary times. There is a lot of uncertainty about the coronavirus. Our government officials are shutting down schools, churches, restaurants, bars and all other places and events where we tend to gather in groups. In fact, just before I wrote this, President Trump held a news conference advising people to avoid gathering in groups larger than 10. This is good advice that we should heed to protect our health and that of our loved ones.

The problem with scary times is that they cause us to narrow our thinking and employ hardwired thinking tools that may not serve us well. Humans are particularly good at spotting patterns. When we see a scary pattern our fight or flight instincts kick in. Our sights are drawn to the short-term and we lose sight of the long-term future.  These thinking tools serve us well when we are facing physical danger – such as spotting a poisonous snake or happening upon a bear in the woods – but they do not serve us well when we are facing financial dangers. Instead, we have to take a deep breath, put space between our emotions and our actions and use that space to set our sights further into the future.

I learned the value of setting my sights off in the distance when I took the helm of the O W Fowler, a scaled-down, square-rigged sail boat at Culver Summer Naval School. Once the sails were set, the skipper gave me a compass course setting and told me, “steady as she goes”. I set my eyes on the compass a few feet in front of me. As the ship started to veer off-course, I turned the wheel in the opposite direction to bring her back on course. Now the bow swung off-course in the opposite direction so I tried to correct again. The harder I tried to maintain a steady course, the more I seemed to get whiplashed. I was losing control.

The skipper grabbed the wheel and steadied the ship. Then he told me to look out over the bow and pick a spot off in the distance. About a half mile on shore I spotted a water tower. He told me, “OK -keep your eyes on the water tower and steer toward that.” Problem solved. I maintained a straight and steady course until it was time to come about.

When managing our investments, if we allow our sights to become set on the scary circumstances of today, we tend to make corrections that cause us to get whiplashed and lose control. It is difficult to do but it is critical in scary times to set our investment sights on the distant future. Unless you have to sell an investment today, set your sights on a time in the future when you may need that money – say 3 to 30 years from now. When you do, you will realize that the best way to stay in control is to hold your investments, “steady as they go”.

 

 

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Financial Satisfaction Survey

 


Directions: The statements below will help you to think about and assess how satisfied you are with many aspects of your financial life. Indicate your level of satisfaction for each statement with stars.
(1 star = "Not Satisfied", 3 stars = "Moderately Satisfied", 5 stars = "Very Satisfied")

I am satisfied with...

1. ...with my ability to meet my financial obligations

2. ...with the income my current job or career provides me.

3. ...with my spending habits.

4. ...with the level of debt I carry.

5. ...with the “extras” that I am able to buy for myself and/or loved ones.

6. ...with the level and quality of insurance protection I currently have.

7. ...with the amount of money that I save and invest on a regular basis.

8. ...with my current investment choices.

9. ...that I am on track to build a sufficient retirement nest egg.

10. ...with the level of employee benefits I receive.

11. ...with my style of personal bookkeeping and financial record management.

12. ...with my ability to provide financial help to family members.

13. ...with my estate plan.

14. ...with my level of charitable giving.

15. ...with the level of financial education I have attained.

16. ...with how I respond emotionally to my personal finance issues.

17. ...with my ability to communicate about my financial matters.

18. ...with the feelings I have about my money life.

19. ...that financial issues do not cause stress or strain in the relationships that are important to me.

20. ...with the working relationships I have with my financial service providers (i.e., insurance agent, banker, broker, financial planner, accountant).


© 2002 - 2018 Money Quotient, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This document is available via licensing arrangements with Money Quotient and is protected by federal copyright law. No unauthorized copying, adaptation, distribution, or display is permitted - moneyquotient.org.

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Life Transition Survey

 


Directions: In each section, select the transitions that you are currently experiencing and those you are likely to experience in the future. In addition, check transitions in the short to mid-term and long-term columns that you either hope to experience or anticipate with concern.

Work Life Transitions

1. Change in career path:

2. New Job:

3. Promotion

4. Job loss

5. Job restructure

6. Education / retraining

7. Sell or close business

8. Transfer family business

9. Gain a business partner:

10. Lose a business partner:

11. Downshift / simplify work life

12. Sabbatical / leave of absence

13. Start or purchase a business

14. Retire:

15. Phase into retirement

16. Other


Financial Life Transitions

1. Purchase a home:

2. Sell a home:

3. Relocate:

4. Purchase a vacation home / timeshare:

5. Re-evaluate investment philosophy:

6. Experience investment gain:

7. Experience investment loss:

8. Debt concerns:

9. Consider investment opportunity:

10. Receive inheritance or financial windfall:

11. Sell assets:

12. Other:


Family Life Transitions

1. Change in marital status (marriage):

2. Change in marital status (divorce):

3. Change in marital status (widowhood):

4. Expecting or adopting a child:

5. Hire child care:

6. Child entering adolescence:

7. Child with special needs:

8. Child w/pre-college expenses:

9. Child going to college:

10. Child getting married:

11. Empty nest:

12. Family special event (Bat/Bar Mitzvah, anniversary party, trip):

13. Helping and/or gifting grandchildren

14. Concern about aging parent

15. Concern about health of spouse/partner or child:


Legacy Life Transitions

1. Increase charitable giving:

2. Give special financial gifts to children/grandchildren:

3. Give parental pension (monthly stipend):


© 2002 - 2018 Money Quotient, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This document is available via licensing arrangements with Money Quotient and is protected by federal copyright law. No unauthorized copying, adaptation, distribution, or display is permitted - moneyquotient.org.

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