The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our lives in many ways. The unprecedented volatility in markets around the world hardly reflects the suffering that has been inflicted on our global community from this dreadful virus.
We continue to move forward amid gnawing uncertainty, from both a health and economic perspective, sorting through the daily news that is filled with experts trying to convey their knowledge on what is to come next.
Our challenge is to move forward in the face of this uncertainty, to embrace life as much as we embrace the unknown ahead of us.
Knowing it is impossible to accurately predict short-term outcomes, we rely on the certainty of our own soulful spirit and the conviction that our creativity will eventually address both the health crisis and the economic downturn. At some point in the future, our sidewalks will be filled with pedestrians, our freeways will be full, friends will reconnect in person, ball games will be played, and shops and restaurants will reopen.
From a health perspective, the virus is unprecedented in our lifetimes. From a financial-planning perspective, preparing for this uncertainty is at the core of the three Coffeehouse Investor principles: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and save for a rainy day.
Over the past 20 years, embracing the unknown has driven the essential decision of asset allocation between stocks and fixed-income investments of bonds, CDs, and saving accounts. These straightforward principles have allowed investors to ignore Wall Street and get on with their lives during the dot.com crash of 2000–02; the financial crisis of 2008; and most recently, the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
Although many factors go into one’s asset-allocation decision, Coffeehouse Investors are resolute in securing an appropriate level of assets needed for living expenses in retirement outside of the stock market to weather inevitable bear market declines. Longer-term, these same Coffeehouse Investors are confident that common stocks will continue to mirror the relentless productivity of human beings who are hard at work improving the lives of our global community. Reflecting on this, the expected return of common stocks over bonds and CDs almost certainly will enhance the sustainability of your portfolio in the decades ahead.
Instead of trying to predict the stock market’s direction over the next 12 months, take time to update (or create!) your personal financial plan. This document will determine whether your monthly savings goal, while you are working, is on track to fund your monthly spending during retirement. This document will confirm that your estate planning is updated and that you are adequately insured against unforeseen risk. It also will identify an appropriate age to begin drawing on Social Security and will challenge you to focus, not on the stock market, but on financial-planning issues that matter most of all.
Take control of your financial destiny. The three Coffeehouse principles can be your guide.