While we anticipate warmer weather and new beginnings, another season looks to be turning as well in the financial world. The anticipation of a looming recession combined with Coronavirus fears and upcoming elections has heightened uncertainties across the markets. March Madness is not the only event that might get crowds in a frenzy this month.
Times like these are a good reminder to always have a plan. When life is good, it’s easy to feel invincible and forget about your financial assets. But when your investments are taking a landslide, your rationality might go out the window too.
One of the golden rules of personal finance is to always have an emergency fund. I would argue it is just as important to have an emergency plan too for your investments. Keep tabs on your market exposure and think about how you would handle unexpected volatility. The ability to take swift action or stay focused on long-term outcomes could be your saving grace, both mentally and financially.
Major Sales on the Market
Of course, a market downturn is not all doom and gloom. For those with extra cash and longer time horizons, there are massive opportunities to generate long-term gains. If you have been on the sidelines about investing or contributing to a tax-advantaged account such as your 401(k), now is a great time to buy-in.
Worried that the market hasn’t bottomed out yet? By incrementally adding funds (otherwise known as dollar-cost averaging), you can follow the trend of the market vs. banking on a single entry price.
The Fed is also continuing to lower interest rates, which offers an attractive opportunity to refinance a loan. With mortgage rates on the decline though, demand has already begun to surge. If you have been considering a refinance, start exploring your options before you find yourself waiting in line.
Tax Season is Here
Don’t have enough to mull over yet? Tax season is here! Tackle your taxes with a clear head before you slip into crunch mode next month. If you have a refund on the line, now is a better time than ever repurpose it towards a new investment or tax-advantaged account.
March's Monthly Checklist
Your favorite college basketball team shouldn't be the only one that scores a slam dunk this month. Get into gear and set up some strategic plays to build your long-term wealth.
1. Monthly Balance Sheet
As always, take the first week of the month to calculate last month’s income, spend, and remaining savings.
By March, you should have received most, if not all, of your tax forms. It’s time to get going on your taxes! Getting a refund is more timely than ever to re-invest in a market downturn.
3. Contributions to Tax Advantaged Accounts
Now is a great time to think about boosting your contributions to tax advantaged accounts such as employee retirement plans, IRA's or Roth IRA's, and 529 plans. Since these plans have longer time horizons, buying in low can generate advantageous gains in the long-term.
4. Brainstorm an Emergency Investment Plan
No one can predict the market but you can prepare how to respond ahead of time. Think about your portfolio allocation, risk profile, goals, and time horizon when strategizing a plan to handle fluctuations in the market.
5. Consider a Refinance
With the Fed lowering interest rates, now is a great time to start shopping for a mortgage refinance rates. Banks are already getting flooded by demand though so make sure you start researching your options now. Companies like Bankrate and Credible can help you search and compare interest rates across several banks.
Plant the Seeds for Long-Term Wealth
If you are taking some precautionary measures this month and spending a little more time at home, take advantage of this opportunity to tackle your taxes and find ways to leverage your hard-earned money. Spring flowers will be in bloom before you know it and your long-term wealth will be too.