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Take a breath, have a family meeting before making financial decisions, says expert

When financial markets are volatile, it’s often hard not to let that affect your decision making.

“Typically, people are going to say, do nothing, don’t panic, just stay the course,” said Dan Keady with TIAA. “That’s great advice. The challenge is, it kind of goes against the human nature, how we feel, because it’s hard not to react. It’s like, if you touch a hot pan, you’re going to move your hand back. There’s reaction. The missing part to that advice is really being able to better handle your emotion.”

Keady said not to make these emotional decisions alone.

“I suggest that people have a family meeting,” said Keady. “I think what you have to do first is talk about your emotions, how you’re feeling, because after the market’s gone way down, there’s a lot of baggage that’s floating around that’s really hurting you emotionally. In this family meeting, it needs guardrails, because it can become volatile, just like the stock market can. No blame game, none of the you word.”

Another way to help keep calm is to build a financial safety net.

“Pay off those high-interest credit cards, for example,” said Keady. “Build an emergency fund in a safe product, like a bank. You need a buffer. Everyone needs a buffer. This safety net helps because, economic uncertainty, things happen, recessions, people get laid off. That can better help you stay invested over the long run.”

The day to day expenses of life and the long-term financial plan need to talk to each other, but they need to be separate. It’s also worth looking into retirement vehicles with a more constant income stream, like annuities, as part of your larger financial mix.

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