DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents used to talk about hiding money in their mattress. It was very old-school thinking, but now I understand the value of their thoughts. I am closer to retirement today than I was before the markets started crashing. My 401(k) has tanked in recent weeks. What I thought was a decent retirement is worth pennies now. I wish I had stashed some money in my house. Now I’m not sure what to do. What is your advice? -- Dwindling Retirement
DEAR DWINDLING RETIREMENT: Talk to a financial professional. Lay your finances out as transparently as you can. Explain your plan for retirement, including when and how. Look at your resources to see what you believe you will have to support yourself when you get there. It is true that the stock market’s recent falls have negatively impacted most 401(k) plans. Unless you are retiring very soon, it is unlikely that you will be encouraged to take money out of the stock market. In most cases throughout history, the stock market has improved after dropping, but that happens with time. The best thing you can do is to work with an investing professional who can help guide you through this tumultuous time to make smart choices for your life.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Like many people, I am working from home now and for the foreseeable future. I’m having trouble keeping my routine in order. I have been late a couple of times for Zoom meetings, and I’ve been caught off-guard with video meetings because I wasn’t dressed appropriately. I have just been rolling out of bed and doing my work. Do you think I should get up, shower and get dressed the way I used to when I was leaving the house to go to the office? I thought that was overkill, but now I’m not so sure. -- Playing the Part
DEAR PLAYING THE PART: I am a big believer in “acting as if.” In this case, that means getting up in the morning, taking a shower, getting dressed for work and starting your day on time. In this way, you are ready for whatever comes at you. Keep your calendar in the same way as you did before. Your commute time may be much shorter, but the principle remains the same: To be early is to be on time.
During this period of self-isolation, you should be ready to be seen on video conference. By dressing as you would if you were in the office, you can easily join a video call. Being dressed, even when you aren’t seen, may support your overall focus on being professional and fully present on the job, even when you are working from home.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)