Earlier in the year, it seemed like workers' retirement plans were headed for serious trouble. When the stock market crashed in March, many older workers immediately started to worry that the COVID-19 outbreak would upend their retirement plans completely.
Fast forward a number of months, and there's a very different sentiment. In fact, 67% of Americans now say that the pandemic didn't actually end up disrupting their plans, according to a recent survey by CNBC and Acorns.
Still, that doesn't mean we're out of the woods. Unfortunately, the pandemic is still raging, and while the stock market has recovered from its losses earlier in the year, there's still a chance that it will tank again before 2020 is out. Therefore, while it's good to take comfort in the fact that the pandemic hasn't seemed to alter your plans so far, you should also take the following steps to make sure things stay that way.
1. Make sure your assets are allocated appropriately
Right now, stock values are holding steady despite the underlying volatility that comes with our economy being in a recession. But we don't know how the market will fare in the coming months. That's why it's important to make sure that the assets in your retirement savings plan are allocated appropriately based on your age.
If you're many years away from retirement (say, 10 or more), it's a good idea to have the bulk (but not all) of your assets in stocks. Even if there is another market crash in the near term, if you have at least a decade before retirement to recover, there's a strong chance your portfolio will do just that.
If you're within a few years of retirement, you'll need a different strategy. At age 60, for example, you'll want more of an even split between stocks and bonds in your portfolio as protection from the aforementioned volatility.
Take a look at how your retirement savings are invested right now, and if necessary, make changes. Now's a good time to do so because stock values are high, so if you move assets around, you can generally avoid losses.
2. Have cash on hand
What do emergency savings have to do with your retirement plans? A lot, actually. If you're younger and have money in the bank, you'll have a means of paying the bills in case your lose your job, and if that's the case, you won't be forced to take an early withdrawal from your retirement savings, thereby potentially impacting your plans down the line.
If you're close to retirement, having cash available could help you forge forward with your plans to leave the workforce even if the market tumbles again in the near term. That way, you'll have funds available to pay your bills, and as such, you'll be able to leave your savings alone until the market recovers.
3. Pad your retirement savings
If you want to put yourself in a strong position to retire when you want to, the solution could boil down to padding your savings. In the aforementioned survey, 49% of respondents said their monthly spending has decreased in the course of the pandemic. If that's been your experience, you have a solid opportunity to boost your IRA or 401(k) contribution rate, and that's a good way to keep your plans on track.
It's encouraging to see that most Americans feel confident in their retirement plans despite the pandemic. But remember, we don't know how things will shake out in the coming year, so your best bet is really to be hopeful but flexible. At the same time, the above moves will put you in a position to stick to your plans, even if the stock market and economy throw some curveballs your way.