Maintaining Your Balance in Rocky Times

The following is an article written by By J. Marc Vorchheimer, CFP®, a fellow member of ACA – the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors.   

Maintaining Your Balance in Rocky Times

By J. Marc Vorchheimer, CFP® Spring Valley, NY

In today’s economic environment, it’s easy to get discouraged. So much of what we believed with certainty just a few months ago is now up for debate or just plain false. Huge financial institutions have disappeared overnight, home values have plummeted, and some distressing financial scandals have been exposed. People are extremely cautious and apprehensive about what the future (and present) will bring.

Here are some strategies to help assure your peace of mind and maintain a balanced perspective during these turbulent times:

1. Appreciate what you have. Take stock of all you have rather than what you are lacking or worried about. Focus on the fact that you have a functioning mind and body, clothing and shelter, and personal possessions that are important to you.

2. Rethink your personal and financial goals. Review your personal goals and determine whether they are consistent with your perspective in the “new world” we live in. There may be matters that are more important to you now that your life may seem more uncertain. For example, perhaps you can make doing something selfless for someone else a higher priority than it was previously.

3. Develop and maintain a sound financial strategy. If you do not have a sound strategy to reach your financial goals, now is the perfect time to create a financial plan. If you are fortunate enough to have a plan in place, stick to it. After all, a good plan is something designed to weather a wide variety of financial conditions. (Otherwise, it was never a sound plan in the first place.) In addition, your financial goals may also have changed. For example, you may want to reduce your immediate living expenses so you can still meet your current retirement goals or increase the size of your emergency reserves fund. If your goals have changed, then you probably need to adjust your strategy as well.

4. Tune out negative press as much as possible. We are in control of what we listen to and read. Avoid exposure to negative and discouraging media reports. Don’t spend too much time browsing the Internet searching for economic predictions or the number of laid-off employees. Instead of trying to change what you cannot control, focus on what you can do about your situation. For instance, keep a log of your work-related accomplishments, which will help if you need to update your resume. Even better, use the information to create a report to your boss so he or she will know the contributions you’ve been making.

5. Spend time with family and friends. Be grateful for family and friends and spend some extra time with them. Make it quality time by keeping the conversation focused on the positives in your life. Of course, it’s fine if you also need to discuss your concerns and fears. When we feel alone, whatever bothers us feels bigger than if we are together with loved ones with whom we can share our feelings. People who are close to you and care about you will usually listen to your worries, which in itself is a relief. Just be sure to turn the conversation back in a more positive direction as soon as you can.

6. Be creative and cheerful. Try to think outside the box. Maybe it’s time to develop a new hobby or skill. It doesn’t have to be costly or very sophisticated. It should be fun and something you look forward to. Choose an activity that will give your mind a break from our stressful world. And support those around you with a bright and friendly demeanor. Your positive energy will likely put a smile on someone else’s face—which is the one you get to see anyway.

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One thought on “Maintaining Your Balance in Rocky Times

  1. This is really good advice. I thought I would share my experience. I had developed a well balanced portfolio prior to the debacle, with an attempt at optimal asset allocation. Although the best thing in hindsight would have been to exit the market in the downturn (20-20 hindsight), buy and hold did not turn out as badly as I thought. I’m only down 7% since the beginning.

    While the market is rocketing, we forget how well we are doing, and then we complain when it drops. In reality, it will fluctuate up and down. One of my main strategies during the downturn was to ignore the media or the statements. This would have led to more angst.

    By the way, we are not out of the woods yet…

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