Have you ever known a couple who breaks up after a long relationship, then reconciles again? It’s a huge sigh of relief for all of those who know them because, after all, they’re meant to be together. And while this looks and feels great from the outside, it’s complicated for the couple. They now appreciate one another more than ever, but something’s changed. An element of trust is gone and they’re each a bit more guarded now. They felt the pain of the falling out and neither wishes to experience that again, so they keep their feelings a bit more guarded than before.
The ‘economy is reopening’ feels a bit like a reconciled relationship. While things certainly weren’t perfect before the shut-down, they were simpler to understand. Now that businesses are able to reopen, there’s this palpable sense that we’re all happy to be together again, but we’re a bit guarded now, a bit unsure. Can we shake hands, hug, show the lower half of our faces? Does my employer still find me valuable since the company survived without me for three months without going out of business? Do I want to jump right back into the stressful hustle and bustle of an overscheduled pre-COVID-19 lifestyle? So many questions with so few answers.
And what of the stock market? If the economy has been paused, why did the market go back up so much, and as of Thursday, June 11th, is this big decline the beginning of another selloff that might last longer? Again, lots of questions without simple answers.
I went to a restaurant with a friend today. The place looked great, the food was great, the new health protocols appeared to be adhered to. Yet, there was this, well, weirdness that was present. It’s as if we’re here, we’re doing this, but none of us are comfortable with the new reality. By the looks of it, the few other diners were also sharing a meal with a friend; it didn’t look as if new business deals were being forged over a power lunch. The act of finally getting back out there is best experienced with good friends for now and not new acquaintances. Good friends are able to navigate the weird together while new acquaintances have enough awkwardness to deal with before adding on the weird virus protocol layer as well.
When I think about retirement planning in light of all of this, I’m reminded that the plan that was arranged before the pandemic is probably the best plan to see us through the pandemic. In other words, let’s not shake things up by changing too much while everything else is being changed around us. The market will go down, the market will go up. Guaranteed and reliable income sources will continue to be trusted to maintain stability while the weirdness is being worked out. Like an old friend as a lunch companion, the plan is there to keep us grounded and feeling like this will all be okay…eventually.
We’ll likely be shaking hands again and enjoying some stability in the economy and markets. Until then, we’ll be watching over the plan and remaining available for you when you need us. Please stay safe, be well, and embrace the weird for a while longer.