Spokane Journal of Business

Facing market fears starts with admitting they exist

Downturn can provide some opportunities for portfolio adjustments

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Are you fearful of looking at your financial statements this month? You are not alone.

Market pullbacks are never comfortable. We have so much to feel wrong about: crushing inflation, the war in Ukraine, school shootings, and more. Suddenly, your visions of a comfortable financial future may not seem so realistic with your essential living costs rising so much in just the last year alone.

Here are a few things you should consider before you get frozen by your fear.

First, acknowledge that you are uncomfortable. Don’t try to avoid or block those feelings. Instead, recognize the discomfort and realize that when you sit with this feeling, those emotions should pass in a few moments. If those feelings don’t fade, talk to your partner or trusted friend about them.

Talk to your financial adviser as they have information and perspective that you may not. Being sad or uncomfortable will not change anything, but acknowledging that emotion and then coming up with a plan will help you move through it.

Secondly, remember the past. Most likely you have been through other market pullbacks, including the one market dip we had not long ago at the beginning of the pandemic. There was so much uncertainty at the beginning of the pandemic, the market lost about 30%. Then things bounced back once the drama subsided.

Thirdly, assess where you are financially, including your assets, liabilities, and cash flow. Open those statements, look at the information, and perhaps you are due to rebalance your asset allocation. It may be counterintuitive, but market pullbacks actually make some opportunities better, such as Roth conversions and buying into a portfolio using dollar-cost averaging.

Be aware, though, that rebalancing a portfolio may cause investors to incur tax liabilities and transaction costs and doesn’t assure a profit or protect against a loss.

Traditional IRA account owners have considerations to make before performing a Roth IRA conversion. These primarily include income tax consequences on the converted amount in the year of conversion, withdrawal limitations from a Roth IRA, and income limitations for future contributions to a Roth IRA. In addition, if you are required to take a required minimum distribution in the year you convert, you must do so before converting to a Roth IRA.

Dollar cost averaging involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuation in price levels of such securities. Investors should consider their ability to continue purchasing through fluctuating price levels. Such a plan doesn’t assure a profit and doesn’t protect against loss in declining markets.

Consider adding high-quality stocks that pay a consistent dividend regardless of whether the economy is growing or slowing. Keep in mind, however, dividend payments aren’t guaranteed and may be reduced or eliminated at any time by the issuing company.

Even though cash is losing buying power in this rising-rate environment, your short-term or emergency money is safe and a reasonable option for the short-term conservative portion of your portfolio. Your long-term money is your most opportunistic pool of money as suitable for your unique time horizon and risk tolerance.

Lastly, look to your future. Remember, you will likely live longer than you anticipate, and financial security can make the ride more comfortable. Enjoy your post-pandemic life and connect with loved ones and family. Maybe that involves some travel, but don’t do it at the cost of abandoning your retirement or long-term goals.

The more you acknowledge your whole financial picture, and take the drama out of your plans, the better you will do navigating the markets’ ups and downs without feeling lost. Be mindful of what you control and what you have no control over.

Sarah Carlson is a certified financial planner and the owner and founder of Fulcrum Financial Group LLC, of Spokane. She can be reached at 509.747.2075.

Sarah Carlson
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Sarah Carlson is the owner and founder of Fulcrum Financial Group, of Spokane. She can be reached at 509.747.2075.

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