Learning from Grandma even in 2021

Grandmother in pink dress suit

Grandma knew best.

When I look ahead to 2021, I can’t help but reflect upon how many truths my grandmother shared that resonate today.

“Wash your hands when you come in the door!”

“Cover that cough! “

“Don’t eat or drink after somebody else.”

Grandma lived through the 1917 Spanish flu, and 100 years later, her words are perhaps more relevant than they’ve ever been.

So much of the wisdom necessary to survive back then applies to moving forward in 2021. What we know as the greatest generation — those like my grandmother who sacrificed during World War II — had grit and a selflessness in going about their daily lives. They didn’t question what they needed to do to serve the greater good — they just did it. Their own inconvenience didn’t matter. They did what was right because it was right. We can learn a lot from them.

They were a resilient generation that grew up without luxuries most of us can’t imagine giving up — a home computer, high speed internet, a phone with the capability to see a family member in another part of the world.

But 2020 reminded us we have resolve, too. Teachers transitioned to virtual learning. Businesses forced themselves to adjust to restrictions they didn’t foresee a year ago. Being nimble on delivering goods and services became critical during unprecedented times.

Most of us see a light at the end of the tunnel now, and it’s not a train! It’s going to take us a while to get there, and taking a lesson from our grandparents, we’re going to have to put aside our individual feelings for the greater good. My grandma’s generation planted victory gardens and turned out their lights to conserve energy. We need to modernize that lesson and consider what we can do to help accelerate the time frame for a return to “normal,” or whatever that will look like post-COVID-19.

For some, paying it forward means taking a meal to a struggling family or ordering curbside from a local restaurant. The Rotarian in me looks to promote the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Take a moment during the early days of 2021 to review your priorities. Many of us saved money last year forgoing travel and restaurants, though the Amazon truck drove down our street more frequently. Evaluate your spending habits by asking what you can do without. That can help you decide where those stimulus check funds should best be used.

Many are eager to plan that vacation they went without in 2020. Take a breath. We still need to be cautious, as the uncertainties  of 2020 will linger, and we don’t have the clarity yet to know for how long. If you’re booking an airline, a cruise or a hotel, make sure you can cancel without a penalty or at the very least, have the ability to postpone.

This might not be the best year to check off one of the iconic tourist areas from your bucket list. Expect prices to be higher for the top attractions. Consider a destination that makes the most sense.

Don’t overlook talking to your financial advisor about changes in tax laws, estate planning or whatever might impact your money in 2021. Remember, too, you are in charge of how you communicate with your financial advisor. If you prefer a Zoom meeting instead of face-to-face, that’s an easy request to accommodate.

Above all, hold on to this. We will emerge from this pandemic, and we will be stronger. But flipping the calendar doesn’t indicate a quick fix. Patience, planning and perspective need to be part of your 2021 and likely, your 2022 also. This isn’t a time to rush into making major decisions. As gloomy as much of 2020 was, we persevered.  When we work together, we can accomplish so much. What we’ve overcome so far would certainly make my grandmother pause and smile.

Any opinions are those of Margie Wiley, AAMS, Financial Advisor and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.   The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material.   You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.