Broker Check

Personally Speaking... Bringing My Daughter Home

April 01, 2020

I suppose when we look back on this period years from now, we will all have our stories, just like we have stories about 9-11 or Superstorm Sandy. We will remember phrases such as “social distancing,” “flattening the curve” or “sheltering in place.” We will tell stories of working from home, supermarket aisles devoid of toilet paper, shuttered restaurants. Yes, we will all have our stories. This is my story for today.

Today I picked up my daughter in her Manhattan apartment and brought her to our home on Long Island. She has been alone in quarantine for two weeks, and according to the health experts, it should be safe to have her come home now. She works in the non-profit sector, and her job appears to be safe, at least for now. She is one of the lucky ones. She works from home as do many of us during these trying times. Her roommate is also working from home, or I should say she is working from her parent’s home in Buffalo, where she returned after being told to shelter in place. My daughter’s roommate, who is a property manager in New York City, is still on the payroll. She, too, is one of the lucky ones.

Driving through Manhattan was eye-opening. The streets were practically empty, or at least empty by Manhattan standards. Very few people were out on the streets, mostly laborers who could not work from home or folks walking their dogs. Most of the restaurants on 2nd Avenue were closed, and those that were not closed were takeout only. I hoped all these stores would be able to reopen. Manhattan rents are so expensive, and it must be very trying for small business owners who don’t know when public commerce will resume. As of this writing, the $2 trillion stimulus bill that is working its way through Congress appears to have some provisions for small business owners.1 Once this bill becomes law, we should have more information regarding this massive stimulus package.

I made good time in and out of the city. We talked about my daughter’s experience in quarantine and how she felt about coming back to Long Island. She said that it was great talking to someone face to face, and she was so-oo happy to be coming home. She was looking forward to taking walks outside with Mom and Dad.

I asked her if anyone in her office has been furloughed. She thought one or two may have been furloughed. I wondered if they had cash reserves for use in case of emergency such as this one. When my daughter first started working, I advised her that she needed to contribute to her retirement plan, especially up to the match if it was an employer matching plan. The next order of savings was to build a cash reserve for use in an emergency. Ideally, she should have enough set aside for six months of living expenses in the event her income dried up. To date she has saved almost the required amount. While she doesn’t need her savings now, this could change at any moment, especially if the current situation lasts longer than anticipated.

On the way home my daughter said that her retirement savings has taken a massive hit. Her 401k is now a 201k. What should she do now, she asked somewhat nervously? I advised her to stay the course and not sell into the panic. She is young and her portfolio will recover in time. She should rebalance periodically, and perhaps now would not be a bad time to contribute to a ROTH IRA. I suggested that she read Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If.” This poem might serve as inspiration for her. The theme of the poem is to maintain your composure and keep your head in troubling times, even when others around you are panicking.

One final thought for today. My daughter has health insurance. When she was terminated on our health insurance plan at her age 26, we insisted that she secure her own health insurance. Not that we needed to insist. She understood that she could get sick and might even require hospitalization. Yet, sixteen percent of her generation have opted not to have health insurance. It is simply too expensive, they say.2 When my daughter was complaining about the cost of her own health insurance at the time, I simply asked her, “How much is your health worth?” Enough said. Today she reminded me of this sage advice and stated that she is so appreciative of having good health insurance at a time like this.

Summing up the day—it is so-oo good having her safely home!

We are interested in hearing your stories during these challenging times. Also, if we can assist you in any way with your financial decisions, please feel free to contact us. Remember, we are here to help.