Personal Finance column: COVID silver linings for retirees | PostIndependent.com
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Personal Finance column: COVID silver linings for retirees

Danielle Howard
Personal Finance
Danielle Howard

So much for the world travel …

So much for the extra income from the gig economy …

So much for visiting our grandkids …

So much for the “retirement plan” …

We can lament and spiral down about what we can’t do, isn’t happening and what we have lost. I understand and honor that there is a grieving process, and each person will work through it differently. We can also be grateful for and thrive in what we can do, what we still have, finding new meaning and purpose as we press in and through this challenging time. We are experiencing an opportunity to redefine what is important, repair what is broken, and revitalize a new way of doing retirement. As we ease in to our new normal, make sure your financial life is in position to bring it to fruition.

What are you learning about yourself? How do you want to become better, not bitter, through this season? Much of what our culture, the media and the financial services industry had set as the “ideal” around retirement and what it “should” look like was inherently flawed. What COVID has done for us is to allow some space to question our values, clarify our character assets, and to escalate and accelerate that which was already in process of changing.

Financially, it is game on. We need to pay attention and put intention at the forefront.

How will COVID-19 impact your distribution season moving forward?

Sharing

It feels good to help others. It is a foundational element in financial health. Financial giving empowers you, when right now, you may not be able to participate physically in your regular volunteer capacities. With the passing of the CARES Act, there are tax benefits to giving cash to 501C3 organizations this year. Increasing from a 60% deduction from AGI to 100%, now is the time to support organizations through cash donations. Use your Donor Advised Fund, or giving appreciated assets for 2021. Now is the time to put together your giving plan that reflects living in sufficiency and gratitude.

Growing and nurturing

This year presents an opportunity to convert your traditional IRA over to a ROTH IRA. When you combine this with your cash giving noted above, you create a tax savings powerhouse. With a market that continues to fluctuate from day to day, you can take advantage of tax loss or gain harvesting. You can look at repositioning your portfolios into investments that align with your principles or values. Now is the time to invest in our world through socially responsible, environmentally sustainable, impact and faith-based companies to co-create solutions to economic sustainability.

Income

The Secure and CARES Act have given you more options for both contributions and distributions of retirement plans as well as accessing government stimulus money. You need to be more calculating about the best way to optimize what you can get from the various buckets you have worked to create over a lifetime. With Social Security, you can discern creative strategies to turn the spigot on and off to create liquidity for the interim. Now is the time to build your team to move all these puzzle pieces around to create income now and maximize what stays in your pocket.

Cash flow

While sheltering at home, I hope your spending has become more intentional. I know mine has. I got resourceful and use what I have on hand instead of running to the store, or clicking a purchase online. We have cleaned out closets and purged that which doesn’t bring us joy. Keep it in mind moving forward. We need to make ethical choices that look at the unintended consequences of our actions. Now is the time to discern between a “soul need” and an “ego desire” as the wisdom revealed through this pandemic.

This is a painful period, yet I hope and pray that we will look back on it as a turning point for ourselves and for our planet. We will work through this together, finding the goodness in ourselves and encourage each other to persevere. As you rewrite your retirement narrative, look at doing your dollars differently as one of the silver linings.

Danielle Howard is a CFP® and CKA® with Wealth By Design LLC in Basalt. Check out her retirement podcasts and blogs at daniellehoward4u.com.


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