Christmas trees came early this year. Have you noticed? By mid-November, weeks before the traditional start of the holiday season, they started lighting up family rooms all across the nation. It’s as if people were trying to push this year out the door as soon as possible.
How about you? Are you hoping the first stroke of midnight on Jan. 1 will magically turn the global pandemic, market volatility, social unrest, and a turbulent presidential epidemic into a thing of the past?
There is a better way.
2020 has given us big challenges none of us can control, and it doesn’t look as if they will suddenly disappear in the New Year. But here is something you can control: your outlook! Choose to take intentional steps to bring purpose, meaning, and confidence to 2021.
Here is a roadmap.
Are the markets impacted by the election?
Whether the candidate you voted for won or lost, you’re probably wondering about the financial impact of the result as well as the delayed certification of votes and unconventional transition period.
There is good news: According to Dimensional Fund research, “data for the stock market going back to 1926 shows that returns in months when presidential elections took place have not tended to be that different from returns in any other month.”
Take a look at this graphic from Dimensional. [Presidential Elections: What Do They Mean for Markets? (dimensional.com)] It shows that “election month returns have been well dispersed throughout the range of outcomes, with no clear pattern based on which party won the presidency.”
In other words, the party affiliation of the winning candidate doesn’t control the movement of the market. In fact, no single factor typically determines the market’s ups and downs. Instead, it’s affected by many circumstances, such as inflation rates, international relations, company performance metrics, and the general economic conditions, just to mention a few.
What does that mean for you going into 2021?
First, take a deep breath and relax. Then hone in on your long-term strategy. Revisit your goals and reassess your risk tolerance. Which investment choices do you want to make that are meaningful and impactful? Review your life circumstances. Ask yourself which changes in your personal or professional life may prompt a rebalancing of your portfolio.
With this approach, you can take productive steps forward with confidence and grace, no matter the outcome of the presidential election.
Lean in: Be intentional about improving your 2021 outlook
It bears repeating: As tumultuous as 2020 has been, and as uncertain as 2021 shapes up, it is not the first time in history that humankind is dealing with major crises. Take heart and then take purposeful steps to improve your personal and financial outlook.
Prepare for changes in laws and policies
While the election itself of a new president is unlikely to affect market developments, changes to laws and policies implemented by the new administration may. Expect some initial ambiguities as these play out and work closely with your tax advisor and financial planner to meet all new requirements as efficiently as possible.
Invest in a socially conscious way
Consider making the world a better place while earning a return on your investments by adapting SRI—socially responsible investing. You invest in companies or mutual funds that promote ethical or moral business practices that align with your values. SRI is emerging as one of the most dynamic investment trends in recent years and could appeal to you as well.
Be involved in your community and support your local businesses
Neighborhoods and business communities rise and fall with the level of engagement and involvement of their residents and customers. Be present.
Volunteer at your children’s schools (once it’s safe to do so again), shop at your local retailers and patronize independently owned restaurants and coffee shops. (Consider curbside pick-up if you prefer.) Thank your fellow citizens for their efforts to enrich your life, and then pay it forward. Donate generously to the performing art and non-profit organizations that are struggling to survive in this era of lockdowns and social distancing.
Engage in political or community activism
All politics is local, and change begins with you, are revered canons of American tradition. Make your voice heard, and do so in a constructive, cooperative manner. Become a positive change agent who sets an example of how to collaborate, rather than antagonize. Political gridlock has not served our country well, and but you, as a private citizen, have the power to set a new standard.
Focus on what matters to you
Prioritize the things in life that are important to you. What are you thankful for, what brings joy and fulfillment to your life? As the ongoing pandemic has shown us, most of us still value family and friends, faith, good health, and service to others above everything else.
Does your job nourish your soul and not just your bank account? If not, consider how you could invigorate your current position or investigate a career change. Life is too precious to devote to a job that has become meaningless.
Remember: You bring the value to your life and your money
The value you find in your life is entirely in your hands. Neither a pandemic nor economic downturns nor political chaos can take that away from you.
Rather than fretting over situations you can’t control or hurrying toward the New Year, cherish the gift of what remains: time with loved ones, a rewarding job, savoring a favorite cup of coffee, helping your child with a science project.
Though difficult and turbulent at times, 2020 has indeed taught us important lessons:
- Spend your time, talent, and resources on the things that matter most.
- Show innovation and originality: How can you do things differently to fulfill a need?
- Be kind and generous. A lot of Americans are hurting; step in to help wherever you can. Are you in a position to share some of your financial resources to alleviate suffering?
- Become a leader. Figure out what you can do to lean in and make it better.
Life—it’s never about the money
You may think this blog an unusual choice for an investment firm. There was nary a mention of financial planning and wealth management. That was our intention.
Money is only a means to an end. It’s a tool—albeit an important one—to help you achieve purpose and fulfillment in life, but it’s never the end in itself. In fact, we’ve built our whole firm around the belief that our services should focus on creating your financial plan and investment strategy that reflect your values and support the lifestyle you’re working toward.
So this is the best of times to recall those values as the foundation of everything you do. This foundation will never crack as long as you stay true to your core beliefs.
Give us a call anytime to discuss your values and what matters most to you in life. We love helping people connect their values to their finances.
We wish you a rewarding holiday season and a meaningful new year!