By Kristi De Rycke, Registered Assistant
We are coming out of one of the most challenging times to be a healthcare worker. It feels like overnight our lives have changed. We were quickly learning the specifics about Covid-19 and training to put on protective equipment. Hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and nursing homes were changing the way they did things to function as safely as possible. You may have been asked to work in a new department doing things that were not entirely in your comfort zone or stepped up in areas that you would never have directly applied for a job. You may have been asked to work different hours or help cover shifts for others that were sick. You may have been called in to help with the massive attempts at preventing the spread including temperature checks or cleaning high touch surfaces. During the times of reducing non-essential medical care, you may have been asked to stay home with worries and fears about paying your bills. Maybe you were asked to work directly with testing or treating people with COVID-19. During a time, we heard over and over about social distancing, you were face-to-face with patients that were ill and needing help. You were reassuring patients that were scared and sad as they had limited contact with their loved ones. You were trying to deal with your own fears and emotions related to the virus while doing your best to put them aside and focus on what you needed to do. At the end of those difficult days, you had to go home fearing that the job you chose to do could be putting the lives of the people you love the most at risk… your family.
It is so important to know that all your efforts did not go unnoticed! Thank you to all the first responders who did not have the advantage of knowing what was causing the illnesses they faced. Thank you to the staff in clinics, hospitals and nursing homes who worked tirelessly to care for people. Thank you to the pharmacies who continued to provide medication and guidance. Thank you to the mental health professionals that helped people with the emotional turmoil during this challenging time. As things are starting to calm down, please make sure to take the time to take care of you! Take care of your physical health and your mental health of processing what you have just come through. Be certain to also take care of your future. There may be a time when you do not want to lace up your shoes and run throughout the day. There may be a time that you want to go at a slower pace. Here is where my two passions collide!
I have been an occupational therapist for 23 years. 3 years ago, the 401K guy was coming to meet with anyone that wanted to at the office. I signed up for a 30-minute slot. The day came and I had my papers ready with 8 questions on my piece of paper. The guy could not answer 1 of them. I finally looked at him and asked how long he had been doing this. He said he had just started. I asked what he had to do to get to be a 401K representative for the company. His answer……wait for it…...”Well if you answer phones at the investment company for a couple years, then I guess you get to start meeting with clients”. What?!? I imagine the guy was joking but I walked out of there just fuming! This guy was supposedly helping all of my colleagues to meet their retirement dreams. The people that work hard every day to do the best for their patients. To be fair I probably had more complicated question than most healthcare professionals might. The truth is I had read a couple books on financial planning in my 20s and was hooked! I have read, listened to, and watched everything I could get my hands on related to investing and personal finance. I do recognize that this is not a recreational activity for most people, but I actually enjoy it. 5 1/2 years ago, I started working at Johnson Insurance and started more formal studying. I passed my series 7 and am officially a registered representative working in a registered assistant role. I still think these questions were something that anyone in the position of “helping with 401Ks” should have been able to answer. Thankfully, this guy is no longer the one meeting with us at our yearly meetings. I know that not all employees from the investment company are like that man as coworkers have had better experiences. However, the point is still this: You and only you need to be responsible to look out for your financial well-being and reaching your future goals!
Now I want to be very clear on what I mean by this. This does not mean that you need to stay up to date with the economic and market conditions, research the risk and performance of each individual fund and know how to trade without high tax implications. You absolutely can if you are the type of person that wants to come home at night and research financial information. If you have the time and interest in managing your own finances, then go for it. There are so many great resources at your fingertips, and we hope to be one of them to keep you up to date on investment topics.There is not a doubt in my mind that if you can get through all that you just have during the pandemic then you got this!
I have had personal experience with colleagues that have been incredibly great in their fields. They have spent hours off the clock and thousands of dollars attending conferences. They dedicate so much personal time to research for evidenced based practice. If I had a need for their service, I would hands down go to them for their expertise. These same professionals had a secret guilt of not knowing much about personal finance and investing. Why the guilt? That is the confusing part. There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and 52 weeks in a year no matter who you are. Would you rather spend the time outside of work doing other activities? Do you find savings and investing material boring (hard for me to understand but plausible)? Would you rather focus on staying up to date on your field than messing with your retirement plan? Do you struggle to find the time outside of work, family, and volunteer obligations?
I will be very honest with you. If I need a tooth pulled, I am not planning to google search and extract it myself. I am going to hire a dentist. If I need a knee surgery in the future, I do not plan on reading a few books, pulling out a scalpel and performing it myself. I am going to hire an orthopedic surgeon and the medical team that comes with it (via billing of course). If I am not feeling well, I will not be drawing my own blood and sending it to an online lab. (The truth is that I would pass out before the process was over.) If you have the time and desire, I encourage you to seek the knowledge. If you want to use your time on other things, get help on your finances! After all you have done for other people, it is also important to take the time to take care of you!
By Greg Johnson
The shoe salesmen whose kids have no shoes, the insurance agent who owns no life insurance, or the car salesman who drives an old beater. We have seen it happen a million times. People overlook the fact they need to take care of themselves. Kristi’s experience is not different than many who have counted on professionals from their 401k provider to give them clarity and confidence in their retirement plans. The reality is companies are not sending out their top producers to review 401k plans inside company doors. If you are concerned about your future retirement picture you need to find a qualified advisor and ask them for help in managing your plan. I have heard many people over the years tell me they just look at the performance of their funds and whatever one has done best they put their money into that one. However, history tells us that this year’s winner is typically next year’s loser. Keep that in mind the next time you make your selection and call someone who can help.