This January not only marks the start of a new year.
It is also the two-year anniversary of the first identified case of Covid-19 in the U.S.
At the time, the pandemic caught most people by surprise. Now, many of our lives do not look the same as they did before Covid-19.
People now are reassessing their retirement timelines, where and how they live and other future goals in the face of the new omicron variant of Covid-19 and continued unknowns.
“This is probably the largest period I’ve ever seen in 30 years … [of] how many people are in a period of self-reflection,” said Ted Jenkin, CEO and founder of Oxygen Financial in Atlanta.
For 2022, it’s “super important” that everyone redo their financial plan, Jenkin said.
“It’s just such a great time to reassess your goals and think about your life priorities and ask yourself, ‘Are you set up to make that happen?'” Jenkin said.
Uncertainties heading into the new year have prompted clients to pause their plans, said Winnie Sun, managing director of Sun Group Wealth Partners in Irvine, California. Her message: “Control the things you can control,” she said.
Rethink your retirement timeline
The Covid-19 pandemic has inspired many people to re-evaluate their relationships with work and careers.
The question many are asking, advisors say, is, “Can I retire earlier?”
People who wanted to retire at 65 now want to know whether they can do that at 60, Jenkin said. And those who planned to stop working at 60 now want to see if they can move that up to 55.
“I think people are telling themselves, ‘I can have millions and millions of dollars in the bank, but it doesn’t do me any good if I don’t have my health and use it to do the things I want to do,'” Jenkin said.
Sun said she’s had one client who retired very young — much earlier than his colleagues — and others can do it, too.
“I tell my clients, if you want to shave off 10 years pre-retirement, that means we really need to hustle now and find other ways to bring in income,” she said.
By picking up a side hustle or freelance work and living off the bare minimum, you can successfully move up your retirement timeline, Sun said. It is also essential that you’re investing for the long-term growth you will need.
“If you don’t want to make that sacrifice, then you’re going to have to work more years,” Sun said.
“There’s really no magical formula,” she added. “It’s really just a plus and a minus.”
Factor big goals into your plan
After spending so much time at home, many people are also eyeing big renovations or relocating altogether.
Before breaking ground on that new home improvement project or picking up stakes, evaluate what it will really cost and how you will pay for it, Sun said.
Keep in mind that one big project could impact your ability to meet other goals, like funding retirement or college savings.
For example, if you put an addition on your home, that may mean you have to work another year or two before you retire. Ask yourself if you’re willing to make that sacrifice, Sun advised.
“You really have to rank what’s most important to you,” Sun said. “But also look at the long term, as well as the short term.”
Also be sure to meet with a financial advisor to go over your decision and make sure you’re on the right track, she said.
Fund future joys
As new Covid-19 uncertainties loom, you may find yourself still giving up things you used to do, such as traveling or attending large-scale events like concerts.
The upside is that this can be a great time to sock away some money, Sun said.
Take the money you’re not spending and set it aside in savings accounts or investment funds named for specific future goals like “vacation fund,” “future entertainment,” or “new house.”
“You still have that exciting goal, but you give yourself a chance for growth, so that sacrifice becomes bigger for later on,” Sun said.
By funding future joys, Sun said it has helped her clients to think positively as they see their money grow. “It gives them hope for the future,” she said.