As we enter another period of uncertainty and unpredictability due to the crisis in Ukraine, seniors, in particular, are feeling stressed, isolated, and anxious. Many are not over the isolation and fear caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and questions about the future loom large.
While our concerns may be focused on the people of Western Europe, it is also natural to have questions about how this may impact our lives. A real consequence of uncertainty in the world is volatility in the financial marketplace, and it is times like these when a well-crafted financial and retirement plan becomes more important than ever.
There are a few steps that seniors can take to try to minimize the impact of global events like the war in Ukraine on your financial planning and your own well-being.
Be Careful about Disinformation: Social media and even some news outlets are susceptible to disinformation campaigns by warring factions and people with agendas. Lean on established, trusted, financial news sources (i.e., not just Facebook!) If you are one of those people who craves news, it may be helpful to invest in quality financial news subscriptions. Getting incorrect or intentionally dishonest information has been proven to negatively impact your outlook and could lead you to make bad financial decisions.
Talk to Your Financial Advisor and Other Trusted Resources: The markets are responding in some interesting ways to this specific conflict. For example, conventional wisdom says that bonds are a safe bet during wartime, but for some reason, they have not responded the way they normally do during a war. The world is changing in many ways, and things are moving very fast. That often means reflecting on and updating your retirement plan and exploring other asset classes. Sagewell’s retirement advocates can connect you with our network of trusted financial advisors if you don’t already have one and together you can work through your plan and find what best fits your needs in today’s market.
Avoid the Click-Spiral: In times of uncertainty like this, reading about the events can provide you with some sense of control. But in most cases, too much information (even if it is good information) can have the opposite effect and begin to overwhelm you. In terms of your finances, it is probably even more important to limit your time reading to maybe a few hours in the morning and focus your intake on a few important, scheduled events – like the FED’s upcoming FOMC meeting.
Evaluate Your Spending As Inflation is Here: Inflation has already reared its ugly head, and 7% may be just the beginning. One of the easiest ways to fight inflation is to check for ways to cut costs on things you’re already buying. Make a budget and evaluate where you may be able to save. Sagewell’s offers a Senior Savings quiz to help get you started by evaluating retirees’ biggest expenses. Your Sagewell Retirement Advocate can help you identify areas to save and will help to ensure that you bring in all the money that you are entitled to.
Stay Connected: War is a very frightening thing. Stay engaged and reach out to family members and others in your community as much as possible. The World Health Organization recognizes social isolation as having a serious impact on older people’s physical and mental health, quality of life, and longevity. As a risk factor for seniors, it puts it in the same category as smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. It is important that you find high-quality social connections in person – or online if necessary. The COVID-19 pandemic has made virtual communication commonplace, and tools like Facetime and Zoom are simple to use and provide a high-quality experience.
Protect Your Passwords: Modern wars are waged on the battlefield and online. This particular conflict between Ukraine and Russia has already seen its share of digital combat. Large-scale cyber-attacks on financial institutions are very real threats, so make sure your passwords are secure (tips here) and don’t open up any suspicious-looking emails that seem strange, are written poorly and/or contain obvious typos.
Be Wary of Scams: Scammers are opportunists, and events like the War in Ukraine offer them great cover for some of their schemes. Fake charity requests are one of the most common, and you will likely be seeing requests to help people impacted by the conflict online, in your email, or even on the phone. It is in most of our natures to want to help people who are struggling, but you should be cautious and vet any potential donations you make carefully. Be aware that scammers may claim to represent real charities as a cover but ask you to donate using a fake internet page or account. If you want to get involved, you can find a list of reputable places to donate here.
In today’s connected world, any major event is bound to have an impact that is felt around the globe. The 24-hour news cycle ensures that there is no shortage of conflict that can be covered. But by being smart about how you process this information and connecting with people you know and trust can help lower your uncertainty and ensure that you make good decisions.