Has the whole world gone crazy? Are you and I the only sane people left? It’s hard to turn on the news without either wanting to curl up in the fetal position or smashing it with the nearest heavy object. We find ourselves in an argumentative world that shows no signs of abating.


Arguments with total strangers on the Internet down to your spouse and family have been heightened lately. The pandemic has brought this all to a head, and I dread what things will look like closer to the election.


Admittedly, I fall into the same trap more than I wish. Somehow, we have to find a way to slow down, be thankful for what we do have, and maybe most of all accept others’ viewpoints as simply that. Just because you don’t agree doesn’t make either of you a bad person. The mantra that I don’t have to like your opinion but would die for your right to express it is becoming a distant memory. The golden rule could use a comeback.


Flinging blame at your spouse, boss, governor or rival political party only makes us feel better and morally superior for a while. It doesn’t begin to solve the problem. At some point we have to point the finger at ourselves and become the change we want to see. As Mustafa Ataturk once said, “Peace at home, peace in the world.”


This being a column more generally dedicated to finance, I need to find a way to connect these thoughts. Here is the thing: Most of what can be said about the political climate can be said about the economic environment as well. They tend to go hand in hand.


Viewpoints and ramifications about monetary policy decisions, and how the investment landscape will fare, are being hotly debated. I’ve never seen viewpoints more divided.


I believe adopting the attitude that I don’t know how this will transpire,and all I can do is set my own financial house in order is always the best plan, but especially now. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to take the next several months to focus on this. While I hope and believe our finest hours are ahead, I think it is urgent to put your own household on the strongest footing you can. If things get much worse, we’ve been given some time to adjust.


I could be and hope that I’m wrong, but there is a heightened risk that the economy faces some severe headwinds. The stock market could easily see below-average returns over the next decade. Volatility like we saw at the end of 2018 and again this year could become more the norm.


The more you can eliminate any debts outside of your home and car, cut costs, bring frivolous spending under control, build an emergency fund, and have potential or contingent sources of income you can employ, the better off you will be.


If you have found yourself with more sleepless nights over your investments, then it’s time to have a long conversation about your money. I don’t want to see you get derailed. Should you use the recent market strength to get out or be more conservative?


Feel free to reach out to me for a free consultation. Being a fiduciary, my promise is to recommend to you what is in your best interest, not mine. I treat everyone like they are my family member or best friend. There are many times I tell people to stay out of the market after listening to their hopes, concerns and stories.


I will show you what I do to maintain exposure for higher returns while also guarding against major downturns. It’s worked for many of my clients, and I have room for a few more who want an honest and measured approach to risk.


Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advice is intended to be general in nature.


Aaron Pickert, CRPC, is chief investment officer at Stewardship Capital in Independence.