It has been up and down here in our neck of the woods in Alberta. Low oil prices have had a chain reaction and led to a slowdown. Projects have been put on hold, or less emphasis to get done soon. This has shown up as loss of bonuses, reduced work and loss of jobs. Things were humming along so nicely and someone put the brakes on.
Is it time to panic? I don't think so, but it should be time to reassess. For those who have felt the sting of layoffs, no or much lower bonuses, there are adjustments that need to be made and some of them are time sensitive.
Did you have benefits at work? Did you realize you have a limited time to port these benefits if your current situation leaves you without? You will not have the exact coverage you were used to but the advantage is you won't have to medically qualify for these continuation programs. That could mean the difference between having some coverage and not.
Life insurance through your current job can be ported as well (with certain limits). The plus again is that up to those limits, you don't have to medically qualify and do underwriting which can be huge depending on your health, lifestyle and habits. This again needs to be done in a timely manner.
Revisiting diversification of investments is also a good idea. I spoke to some clients last year before lower oil prices and encouraged meeting and setting up a plan including diversification. This was not just for the investments, but also by asset class. The general consensus was why waste time doing that when they could just buy company stock and outperform the market. Having all your eggs in one basket comes to mind. Lower oil prices have tipped that basket to the side and quite a few eggs have broken.
While the overall market was positive in 2014, a lot of companies didn't enjoy the same results. Things do happen in cycles, but better planning can mitigate certain flows.
Let's say I had all my money invested in my company stock. I had a few years of great returns. I was looking forward to my usual sizeable bonus as I had some financial commitments for those funds already earmarked. Then, oil prices drop, there is no bonus and I get laid off. Is this a possible scenario? Now, when I am in need of some funds, my company stock is much lower than I anticipated, I have no bonus and my severance will run out soon. My likelihood of getting rehired soon is less than a few years ago and if I do get rehired, I probably won't be making the income I was before. I already adjusted my lifestyle to my old income. I need funds so I may be redeeming investments valued much lower than I would like to but my choices now are limited since the choices I made earlier were not as practical as they should have been.
I think the above scenario comes close to what a few people have experienced. The good news is that it's not the end of the world. These situations are where your advisor shows you his/her value.
Do you have pensions floating around from your last job or even a few jobs ago? Why not sit down with someone such as myself and get customized advice for your situation. Let us make a plan of action on how to weather the storm and navigate future waters.
We offer a no obligation, complimentary assessment of your financial situation. We look forward to meeting and working with you. Let us help you navigate the current waters and prepare for the future.
Will there be uncertain times? Definitely! Can you be better prepared?
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