COLUMBIA—The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the national economy and people’s personal finances into turmoil. Many people are facing financial hardship because of work layoffs and businesses being closed.
Others are watching the drastic ups and downs of the stock market and wondering if their retirement savings and other investments for their future are going to be wiped out, or at least severely reduced.
The most important things people of faith should remember when dealing with money during this time is that everything we have comes from God, and we shouldn’t make rash decisions out of fear, according to Dan and Susan Wallick of Columbia-based Wallick Investments, LLC.
“When handling finances during a crisis, we need to remember God owns everything,” Mr. Wallick said. “We are the stewards of all His blessings, and His scriptures and Church teachings serve as our guides in properly managing money and possessions. Making an investment or financial decision during a crisis is an opportunity to glorify God. Our response … shows both our preparedness as well as the level of our faith in the One who is ultimately in control.”
Here are some of the Wallicks’ suggestions on ways to get finances in order during the pandemic:
- Gather and update all important documents (wills, health care power of attorney) and make a list of important people to contact in case of an emergency. Keep the documents together in an easily accessible place. If you do not have a will or power of attorney, this is also the time to consider having one prepared.
- Don’t make rash decisions regarding money or investments. Don’t purchase any investments or financial products that sound too good to be true. Stick with your current investments and financial plans if they were well thought out.
- If you discover that plans you have already made are not the best for you and your loved ones, this is a good time to work with a financial planner and make better decisions for the future.
- When considering a financial planner, ask them the following questions: As my representative, are you legally considered a fiduciary (required to act in my best interest)? What are your fees and what am I getting in return?
- Verify that a financial advisor is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or S.C. Attorney General’s office. To check an advisor’s status, visit brokercheck.finra.org. The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute also offers lists of recommended questions to ask your current or potential financial advisor during a crisis. Visit cfainstitute.org.
- After you have selected a planner to work with, ask the following questions: What is the safest way to accomplish our investment goals? Are our investments well-allocated between assets and diversified enough?
- Don’t focus too much on the ups and downs of the market when making long-term decisions. This will cause stress, tension and worry, and distract you from planning for the future.
For those looking to learn more about finances and how to handle them, the Wallicks suggest two resources. The book “7 Steps to Financial Freedom,” by Phil Lenahan, offers Catholic-based guidance in personal finances. Much of the material from the book is available through Our Sunday Visitor under their “Shop Now” section at osv.com. Compass Catholic Ministries offers podcasts, finance-related books, and instructions for starting financial study groups at the parish level. Visit compasscatholic.org.