In the realm of savings and investments, individuals have traditionally divided their financial goals into two categories: addressing short-term emergencies and planning for retirement, which may be years or even decades away. However, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a shift in mindset is occurring, leading experts to emphasize the importance of funding nearer-term objectives. Financial planners are now advocating for the creation of an “opportunity fund” to cater to these evolving priorities.

The pandemic has prompted many to reevaluate their life goals, career aspirations, and where they want to live. This newfound perspective is challenging the conventional wisdom of allocating all financial resources to a distant retirement fund. Instead, individuals are expressing a desire to allocate funds for goals that may materialize in the next three to five years. These goals encompass a wide range of possibilities, such as starting a business, pursuing further education, changing jobs or careers, embarking on significant vacations, or indulging in unique experiences.

Brent Weiss, a certified financial planner and the head of financial wellness at Facet, a registered investment advisor firm based in Baltimore, observes this shift in mindset. He emphasizes that people are increasingly questioning whether they want to lock away all their money for retirement several decades down the line, realizing that they might want to pursue different opportunities sooner.

To help clients embrace this change in perspective, financial planners like Weiss begin by asking them a fundamental question: “What is the life you want to live?” This inquiry serves as a catalyst for identifying short to mid-term goals that matter most to individuals.

Carolyn McClanahan, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and founder of Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing clients’ current happiness. Instead of exclusively focusing on retirement planning, McClanahan advocates addressing immediate concerns, such as improving job satisfaction or exploring career changes. By aligning financial strategies with current life goals, individuals become more resilient in facing the uncertainties of the future.

To build an opportunity fund that enhances one’s quality of life, consider the following three tips:

  1. Treat Money as a Tool: Start by clarifying your objectives and their timelines. Understand that money is merely a tool to help you achieve success, whatever success means to you.

  2. Match Your Investments to Your Goals: Distinguish between short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Tailor your savings and investments to align with these different timelines. For instance, short-term goals may be suited to high-yield savings accounts or bonds, while long-term goals may involve stock market investments.

  3. Celebrate Small Wins: Achieving financial goals can be challenging and emotionally draining. Recognize the importance of celebrating small milestones along the way. By allocating a portion of your funds to reward yourself for progress, you can maintain motivation and enjoy the journey toward your goals.

Ultimately, this shift in financial thinking underscores the significance of mindset and psychology in financial planning. It’s not solely about accumulating wealth but also about fostering a positive relationship with money to create the changes and successes individuals desire in their lives.