Many folks are feeling as much anxiety about the end of this contentious presidential election as they were feeling during the long months of campaigning. It’s impossible to predict with 100% accuracy what a new president and a new Congress are going to do. That feeling of uncertainty can send out ripples through our financial and political systems until we get a clearer picture of the agenda for the next four years.
As important as elections are, we believe a solid financial plan gives you the tools to keep improving your Return on Life no matter what’s happening with our nation’s politics. Instead of fretting about what may or may not happen starting in January, try to focus on these three areas of your life that will help you control major transitions.
1. You can’t control the economy … but you can control your career.
Elections sometimes spark short-term volatility in the financial markets. But the economy is bigger than any one president, especially while Covid-19 continues to change everyday life and global business.
As companies continue to adapt to the pandemic landscape, job opportunities are becoming less centralized and more diverse. You might be able to take your dream job on the other side of the country without leaving the home your family loves. Or, you might spot an emerging market in the middle of all this displacement where you can open your own company.
2. You can’t control taxes … but you can control your saving and spending.
Presidential candidates talk a lot about their tax plans on the campaign trail. The need for Congress’ cooperation to put that plan into action usually isn’t discussed quite as much.
Whether your preferred candidate won or lost, there’s no guarantee taxes are going up or down. But, you can anticipate when your kids will be going to college, if you’ll need to replace the family car soon, or if you’re not prepared for retirement.
Yes, tax rates will play a role in handling these transitions, but your level of saving and spending have a much bigger impact on your financial plan than any other factor. If you’re not connected to your money and spending in BAD ways, make it a goal to change that in 2021.
Sit down with your spouse and weed out all those recurring subscriptions and memberships you’re not using. Make a weekly meal plan so you’re not eating out so often or buying the most expensive items on the top shelf. This could easily yield a couple hundred dollars each month and help you build that all important retirement nest egg.
3. You can’t control who’s president … but you can take control of your financial plan.
Per the clamor on social media, was this really “the most important election of our lifetimes?” It could be decades before we have enough perspective to judge. But as far as your financial planning goes, here’s another way to think about presidents:
A 67-year-old baby boomer eyeing retirement might have taken her first part-time job when Lyndon Johnson was president. As of 2020, that senior has lived and worked through ten different presidents.
It’s doubtful you’re going to love every single president who serves during your career. Yes, there are things each one does that might move the needle on your retirement accounts in the short term. But those who stick to their plans and continue to save and invest regardless of what’s happening in the outside world are the ones who build long-term wealth. You don’t need to invest large sums of money, either. But you need to get started as soon as possible and put time on your side.
No matter how you feel about the election, you can take action today to keep your financial plan on track or get started on one. Control what you can control and don’t waste time, energy, or effort on everything else.