If you’re like me, you’re ready for this election cycle to be over. With the increasingly hostile tone coming from both parties to the added stress from the COVID-related 2020 disruptions to the continual talk of “this is the most important election in your lifetime” talks, I’m ready to be done. But, there are other things you should consider in the next week and before the end of the year.
Many financial professionals and investors are trying to “time” the election by selling based upon polling data and planning on buying at certain points after the election. All I have to say is, “Good Luck”! The same people tried to time the stock market in 2016, which lead to a huge initial drop before the market opened the day after the election to ending up on the first day and continuing up from there. Many pundits expected the stock market to fall on a Trump election, only to miss some of the best recent stock market days & weeks.
For example, take a look at Small Cap US stocks. Historically, Small company stocks have outperformed Large Cap stocks by a little over 2% per year over the long-run, while also taking on more risk to generate that return. In the 8 days after the 2016 Trump win, US Small Cap stocks outperformed their larger counterparts by over 8%. If you were betting against the stock market or changing your allocation between different areas of the market in anticipation of the election, it is likely that you’re returns were substantially different (and possibly much lower) than just staying invested.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t do anything before the election. There are a couple things to consider:
- Do you have the right asset allocation? If you are very nervous about the stock market reaction and are concerned about your ability to continue to spend and save what you need to for your goals, it’s very possible that you are taking on too much risk in your portfolio. If that’s the case, let’s talk and make sure you are in the proper allocation between risky and less risky assets.
- Prepare yourself for rebalancing. Nobody knows what the next several months look like for the stock market, with many factors at play, not just the election. If you own several different types of assets in a diversified portfolio (such as US stocks, International stocks, bonds, real assets, etc.), you should expect that parts of your portfolio will be up while other are down. It is very possible that there will be times the rest of 2020 where different asset classes will diverge enough that it makes sense to rebalance your portfolio, selling some of the assets that have done well to buy those that haven’t. This can be very difficult to do in the moment without a plan in place, since you’re selling those that “feel” like they will keep going up while buying the “losers”. If you don’t have a plan in place, now is a great time to begin thinking about what you’ll be doing.
It’s easy to forget about Open Enrollment, both at a company/work level and for health insurance. But, many open enrollment deadlines are rapidly approaching, so it’s a good idea to make sure everything is in place.
If you are working, make sure your company benefits are intentionally selected for next year. Many things change, both on the options available and what’s appropriate for your situation, so be sure to take a look at what you’ll signing up for (and what you’re declining). If you haven’t already, reach out to me and I’ll help you walk through your options.
If you are not working, the private health insurance open enrollment is from Nov. 1st through Dec. 15th, which is the only time that all your options will be available to you. For Medicare, open enrollment started Oct. 15th and runs through Dec. 7th. During this time, you can switch to/from Medicare Advantage plans (if you qualify), join Medicare prescription drug plans and more. There are a lot of nuances, but let me know if you want another look!
If you don’t have any Wills/POA, etc., stop reading and get started on the process NOW.
If you are thinking about gifting to others this year, the Annual Gift Tax Exclusion amount is $15,000 this year per recipient. If you haven’t done so already, begin thinking about who and when you’d like to make these gifts before 12/31/2020.
If you have a total net worth above $5,000,000, there are some immediate strategies that you should consider, since there are potential changes to the estate tax laws depending on the outcome of the election. You do not need to do anything quite yet, but if this applies to you, you’ll want to get started on thinking through your options. We have a more in-depth post on Spousal Lifetime Access Trusts (SLAT) and Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT) here: Give More Money To Your Heirs, Not the Government.