Life in 2020
As the year draws to a close, I thought I would put my thoughts to paper once again. The strange parallel is that the last time I wrote a blog it was a beautiful spring day at the start of the pandemic, and now here we are several months later. Almost unbelievably, the restrictions are much the same, and it’s another glorious day, albeit a few degrees colder.
But let’s turn our thoughts to 2020. It has certainly been a strange year and one that I think no-one could have predicted. And I know many of us are now getting fed up of the rules and restrictions, understandably, as its cold and dark, and our freedom is still very much restricted. But has it been all bad? I appreciate that, for many in jobs affected by furlough, redundancy and pay cuts, it has been a very challenging year, and perhaps one that many will be glad to see the back of. But change can often be for the better, and sometimes you don’t realise you need a change until it is thrust upon you.
I know that, for me personally, it has been a year of discovery, a year of enjoying the simple things and perhaps moving at a less frenetic pace. Strangely, I am rather enjoying many aspects: no commute to work, no rushing to pick my daughter up after work, no eating on the go as we rush out to various clubs and activities. I am still managing to fit in the gym regularly, albeit now via online Zoom classes, and this can fit around family life better, leaving time to cook and sit down together as a family to eat dinner – and, as a result, less snacking, although my chocolate consumption is still way higher than I would care to admit! And let’s not forget having a more relaxed office attire – not sure how I will cope with a return to high heels when things get back to normal (never did I think I would ever utter these words!). And I am sure that I am not alone, and that, for many of us, the strange sequence of events has led us to have more time at home and more time for reflection.
Now I guess that, as a result of my job, I may be more fortunate than most by having access to our Truth Lifetime Planning Software. This allows me to play around with my future goals and aspirations around potential retirement dates, future travel plans, how life in retirement will look and whether I am on track to achieve my goals. Many people think that when they consult with a financial planner that the conversation will be centred around savings and investments. True, they have a part to play, but the most important aspects are trying to understand a potential client’s personal goals, what is important to them, what do they worry about, what would they change if they could? If we, as financial planners, can understand our clients’ needs/wants, then we can devise a plan to set them on the right path and help keep them on track to meet their goals.
So, during lockdown, I have spent time mulling over various plans. Do I aim to retire at 60 or am I more likely to phase into retirement by working part-time from age 55 (yikes only seven years to go!)? Do I have enough savings to allow my dreams to become reality? What else do I want to do? With a rather big birthday looming in a year or two, how do I want to celebrate, where will I go, how much will this cost, can I afford it? And what about my children? How much financial support will they require throughout my lifetime with university costs, help purchasing their first cars, deposits for a house or future wedding costs? The one thing being a financial planner has taught me is that children appear never to be quite be off the payroll!
As I said, I am fortunate. I have had time to play around with these scenarios – I can see the future clearly and that my finances hopefully will allow me to meet most of the goals I have in mind. However, like everything in life, my list of objectives will no doubt evolve over time, and life may throw some curveballs my way to deal with – if so, I will need to readjust the plan where required.
But what have you done in lockdown? I guess we have all had more thinking time than ever before, whether like me you want to set goals for the next stage of your life, or perhaps you have been made redundant and are considering setting up a new business venture and you have all of the anxiety associated with starting something new. Maybe you have decided that you would like to retire now, but worry whether you can afford to? Perhaps, sadly, your relationship has ended, and you need to figure out where to live, how much you can afford to spend on a new house, etc.
There has never been a better opportunity to consider your own personal goals and aspirations and once you have done this, if help is required, then arrange to chat to a specialist who can help you map your future and advise whether you appear to be on track to make your dreams reality or whether some adjustments are required.
So, what has 2020 taught me?
Actually, I think rather a lot …
I have discovered that I can work from home rather effectively. I am invariably more chilled out when I’m not rushing around so much. I can cook rather well. I enjoy beautiful sunny days in Scotland and having the ability to work flexibly to allow me to enjoy the sunshine, working on a bit later to catch up. In winter, I love being able to go to work wearing cosy jumpers and jeans, and I certainly don’t miss the icy walk into work in three-inch heels!
But what have I missed?
Catching up with my family and friends (yes, I know we can still do that to an extent, but a Scottish beer garden in November is way less tempting than a cosy pub with a real fire!). I have missed entertaining, being perhaps at my happiest surrounded by close family and friends. I’ve missed my colleagues, the office banter, the after works drinks, dressing up for a night out, and, of course, holidays abroad.
But how about you? I would be really interested to hear how life in lockdown has been for all of you. Perhaps you would be kind enough to share your thoughts by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if anyone would like to chat through how our Lifetime Planning Software could possibly help with your own aspirations, please do get in touch.
But for now, Christmas is almost upon us. It’s a time for decorations, Christmas movies, hot chocolate and perhaps the odd glass of wine or two. It’s one of my favourite times of the year.
I hope, when the time comes, that you all have a lovely time celebrating over the festive period, hopefully with family and friends, and here’s to an amazing 2021!