Four Things You Can Do No Matter Who Wins

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Today is election day 2020. No matter who wins, a large number of people will be disappointed, but this year in particular is marked by fear. Many are afraid of what this political cycle will do to our economy, to our lives, and to our futures.

I’ve written a lot about politics, especially from an investing standpoint. I have tried to show that neither democrats nor republican are better for the stock market, that you should not change your investing strategy during a presidential election year, and that changing your investment strategy because of which party controls the white house is likely to impoverish you in the long run. The best thing you can do is ignore politics and take control of your own financial freedom.

Wealth management is in your control and there are actions you can take regardless of who wins today.

1. Stop listening to the news.

In April of 2013, an excerpt from an essay by Rolf Dobelli was featured in The Guardian under the title “News is bad for you and giving up reading it will make you happier .” Dobelli summarizes his point as, “News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply.”

His reasoning? News misleads, is irrelevant, has no explanatory power, is toxic to your body, increases cognitive errors, inhibits thinking, works like a drug, wastes time, makes us passive, and kills creativity.

I suggest reading the entire article, and then stop reading the news. The less news that you consume, the better you will be for it.

Now that the election is over, try giving your life a news break. Do something else with your time. You will be happier and more fulfilled.

2. Live within your means.

Successful wealth management depends almost entirely on your choices, habits and hard work. While even the smallest lifestyle changes you make can have a significant impact on your future, it is much harder for investment returns or the economy alone to ruin your investment plan.

With enough margin in your finances, you will be able to weather whatever our politicians do. You don’t need more money. To achieve your lifetime goals, you need to focus your financial efforts around your goals and cut out all the excess. The earlier you start the better.

Spend less than you make. Do not go into debt. Save and invest. Get a retirement savings plan together and make sure that you are saving enough to be on track for retirement. Fund the retirement plan at your work. Fully fund your Roth IRA.

Even if you are behind, push your saving a little further. Make small sustainable changes one at a time.

3. Love your neighbor.

Amidst all the division, be part of the solution. Love your neighbor unconditionally, politely, and respectfully. Forgive them for their failings and treat them with respect.

No amount of politics can solve what really counts.

I used to have a bumper sticker on my car, the only bumper sticker that car ever had, which read, “Evil thrives when good people do nothing.”

Every election cycle, friends would comment on how appropriate my bumper sticker was “given our current events.” However, it wasn’t a bumper sticker for current events. I had that bumper sticker on my car until it faded to nothing but a white rectangle.

Good people need to keep being good people in the face of evil all the time. The quiet work of bringing light to the darkness around us can produce a better world. Politics should not have power over every aspect of our lives. Giving it such power will not make people happy or fulfilled. We are called to love.

4. Donate to charity.

Charities always need your support, but they especially need support during difficult times.

Find the charities that embody the change you want to see in the world and donate. Donating to charity helps redirect your mind from who you should blame and refocuses on how you can help. It reminds you that the world is larger than yourself, that there are others out there who have problems, and that there are ways you can help them.

Giving makes you grateful for what you already have.

There is a Chinese proverb which says:

Be careful of your thoughts,
for your thoughts become your words.

Be careful of your words,
for your words become your actions.

Be careful of your actions,
for your actions become your habits.

Be careful of your habits,
for your habits become your character.

Be careful of your character,
for your character becomes your destiny.

Allow the election cycle to remind you that even the smallest detail of what you give your attention to can undermine your goals. Focus on what is good and what you can do to make your life and the world better.

Photo by J W on Unsplash

Follow David John Marotta:

President, CFP®, AIF®, AAMS®

David John Marotta is the Founder and President of Marotta Wealth Management. He played for the State Department chess team at age 11, graduated from Stanford, taught Computer and Information Science, and still loves math and strategy games. In addition to his financial writing, David is a co-author of The Haunting of Bob Cratchit.