Coping with declining wealth - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Coping with declining wealth

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By Chuck Weber email

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL (WFLX)-In spite of the fact household wealth keeps tumbling in the United States, a Juno Beach financial planner says she's telling her clients to stay calm and focused on the big picture.

The Federal Reserve announced for the fifth quarter in a row, people's net worth dropped-- this time by a record $5 trillion. Blame the ongoing drop in home values and stock prices.

With personal wealth spiraling downward, it's no wonder people aren't spending. While that may hurt the economy now, Regina Bedoya, who calls herself a "financial coach," says what's most important is getting your financial house in order. "This is a time to go back to the basics," says Bedoya. She feels the downturn provides a great opportunity to get rid of bad habits and get one's financial house in order.

"There are principles that apply to everyone," she says. "I would say the most important one is, 'let's learn to live under our means.'" Bedoya says save something from each paycheck. Build a significant emergency fund first, then keep funding your retirement. Right now, with stock prices low, your money goes further.

What Bedoya is preaching, a Palm Beach Gardens couple say they have always practiced. "Neither of us grew up in families that had a lot of money," explains Virginia Brooks. "So we have always been very careful with it."

Virginia, a retired college professor, and her husband, John, a retired engineer, estimate their retirement accounts are down about 40 percent. "We'll be okay," says John. "It might affect our lifestyle somewhat, but I think we have managed money in such a way that we are prepared for this downturn. We just feel so bad about those who haven't or couldn't."

Financial planner Bedoya says she reminds clients to keep looking at the long term. "Maybe not at this level," says Bedoya, "but things like this have happened before, and we have been able to come out of it. We are a great country."

Bedoya says she hopes people will learn from the current crisis. "I think as a result of what we're going through as a country," she says, "the next generations will be much smarter and more diligent and more responsible about their finances."

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