You and Your Silver Linings

In Retirement Thinking, The Insider by Adam Cufr

“Why don’t you take some time off, go home, and collect your thoughts. A little time away from all of this might just do you some good.” There was very likely a time in your career, your family life, or even your marriage when a couple of days away is all you could dream about. Being able to hit the pause button to slow things down for just a bit would be a game-changer. Ta-da! Welcome to COVID-19.

Well, here’s what we know: we’ve been in either self-quarantine or under some level of forced stay-at-home order for almost a month-and-a-half. Large portions of the economy were put on-hold, while ‘essential businesses’ were permitted to remain open. Many people are suffering physically from the virus while others are suffering emotionally or financially. In other words, what we know is that we may all be in this together but we’re not in this identically. The suffering is not universal; meaning your suffering is not her suffering is not my suffering.

Because the effects of this pandemic are not equal, we’re not feeling equal treatment under the law or by the media. A news story out of New York City, where people are practically living on top of each other, does not seem all that relevant to those living in Oak Harbor or Waterville. Because much of our media originates from large cities and because policies are often crafted in densely populated government centers, many of us in ‘normal America’ are incredibly ready to move on from this and get back to some level of normalcy. Yet here we are, waiting for the day to come when we can put this behind us. It’s uncomfortable to remain patient when we feel that we’ve been playing by the rules for so long.

But wait, aren’t we supposed to be enjoying this forced vacation from many of our daily responsibilities? Shouldn’t we be thankful for the time away that’s going to do us some good? Well, if you’re like me, you’re very thankful for the chance to spend more time with those closest to you. And, you’re also ready to get back to living as a person who likes people and can connect with them. You and I are just ready to not be forced to do these things. Many of these activities are fun if we choose to do them; it’s the forcing that grinds us down. It’s the requirement that these things happen that makes them so challenging.

When I was in the Air Force band, we had two weeks of annual training each year. During this time, we’d rehearse and then perform concerts almost every day, for hours and hours. It was great. At the end of the two weeks, in order to mark the end of the tour, we’d be commanded to have a party to celebrate our accomplishments. Do you know what we called it? Fundatory. It was mandatory fun. Because while we liked spending time with one another, after two weeks of traveling and being together for 24 hours a day, we just wanted to go home and see our family; please don’t make us have a party when we’d rather be someplace else.

For many people, this COVID-19 experience has been and may continue to be chock full of challenges and suffering. It’s also been full of pleasant surprises, tender moments, and much needed time away from it all. The problem is, these things are tough to fully enjoy when it’s forced fun, fundatory. I hope we don’t look back on this and regret not savoring the positives. Easier said than done, I know. But I hope we’ll do our best to not miss the silver linings in an otherwise challenging and bizarre time.

Before you check out, just a word about the markets and economy. The stock market has certainly declined in a meaningful way, but not as much as one might have expected when such drastic measures are taken. And most of the families we serve have substantial bonds in their portfolios, annuities, and guaranteed income sources to prevent huge wealth declines. We continue to watch the markets daily and make adjustments to portfolios to take advantage of opportunities as they’re presented. The stimulus programs that have been implemented are unprecedented and are having some positive effects. Businesses are receiving cash infusions to keep as many people on payroll as possible through programs like PPP Loans and the EIDL program. Sure, it’ll take months to discover the full effects of this crisis on the economy but it’s not as if the government is sitting on its hands. Not perfect, but something.

As you’re reviewing your own accounts and plans, feel free to reach out to us to discuss your situation. The economy and markets have received a lot of much-needed support and we’ve enjoyed seeing well-designed plans function as they should. In other words, this is what the planning was for.

Enjoy your fundatory as much as you can. Not because I said so, but because there’s never been a better time to find those silver linings.

All the best,

Adam Cufr, RICP®