4 Steps for Better Emotional Health During Times of Stress

As people all across the world are working to adjust to the unprecedented events that have unfolded over the past weeks, we thought it may help to share some practices we personally follow to help ourselves remain grounded and be present in our interactions with you, our clients during such difficult times.

We as individuals and as a nation are currently dealing with two contagions: first, the coronavirus outbreak itself, and second, the emotions that come along with it. It has been commonly reported that negative emotions are just as contagious as a virus.

After a barrage of stressful new reports, social media updates, and even likely conversations with people you are close to, you might have felt or are currently feeling fatigued, stressed, or anxious about the risks to ourselves, our families’, and our friends’ health, as well as the financial impact and general turmoil associated with present events.

These feelings weigh on our general feelings of peace, happiness, sense of calm, and fulfillment, among other things, and often also cause many of us to feel particularly lonely.

How do we fight these negative feelings?

As a tool to help combat these feelings, I would like to take this moment to ask you to create space in your life to provide time to practice the “4 essential R’s”: Relationships, Routines, Reflection, and Relaxation.

Relationships

Spending time, even if only virtually, with people we care about is now more important than ever. Whether at work or at home, take moments to continue sharing positive experiences, reminding people how grateful we are to have them in our lives. Especially if your contact with others has been more limited lately, I recommend you use free tools like ZoomFacetime, or Facebook Messenger to have more frequent calls with people you care about, even if only for a few minutes.

Routines

Our routines have been completely disrupted, so much is now in turmoil. But there are little things we can do to restore our sense of control over our lives again, such as building or restoring certain routines within the course of our day. Try scheduling time in your mornings or evenings for your favorite show, reading a good book, or spending time on a hobby you love (even if it’s only a few minutes). These may seem simple but if we’re not intentional it’s these little joys that are often the first to be pushed aside.

Reflection

This is my personal favorite. Taking the time to contemplate the things in your life that you’re thankful for, particularly during uncertain or challenging times, has been shown to have a very clear positive effect on our mental and emotional state. Practices such as journaling, or discussing with others, what you’re grateful for actually makes us happier. Similarly, mindfulness practice, prayer or meditation, even simple breathing exercises improve how we feel almost immediately when we’re not feeling our best.

Relaxation

In addition to getting 7-8 hours of sleep, taking down time is key to our daily healing and restoration process. Make sure you don’t forget to relax, if only for a bit. Be intentional in setting aside time each day to pause, take a few deep breaths, and allow your mind to reset and refocus. We’ll not be able to help others well when our own fight-or-flight modes get triggered due to a lack of rest in combination with other stressors.

We’re Here for You

I encourage you to put these tools into practice, stay safe, and remain strong.

And lastly, please remember, in difficult and stressful times we’re here to help. We exist to enhance the lives of our clients. Supporting your financial, physical, and emotional well-being is our highest priority for each and every one of you.

Actions We’re Taking Following Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Clients and Partners,

As we all navigate the outbreak of the Coronavirus together, I wanted to share what’s important to us, what we’ve done, and what we’re doing.

What’s Important to Us
The health and wellbeing of everyone we work with informs our decision-making. Our clients trust us with their life’s savings, but also to be a partner in their journey for so much more. We value this relationship deeply, and we also feel a great sense of responsibility to do things that support the needs of those around us.

There are parts of our population that are particularly vulnerable to this virus, and we intend to do everything in our power to prevent the spread of the virus, or slow it’s progression.

Simultaneously, we see our partnership with our clients as a valuable relationship, and we intend to do everything necessary to ensure we’re available and ready to help you for everything ahead, financially, emotionally, and for your health otherwise.

What We’re Doing
We intend to support the intent and spirit of public health officials’ requests to perform acts of “social-distancing” to slow the spread of this virus. Additionally, an unprecedented level of restrictions exists today, including a significant impact on our ability to move freely and travel.

Based on these factors and more, we intend to hold a significant proportion of our client, prospective client, and other meetings virtually via Zoom meetings we host.

Such meetings are easy to join from your computer or mobile phone, and may optionally include video, audio, and presentation materials, as applicable.

Whether you’re an existing client or prospective client, just let us know you’d like to hold a web conference (or by phone call only, if you prefer) when scheduling a meeting with us, and we’ll handle the rest by providing instructions on how to access the meeting. If you do not ask us for a web conference explicitly, we may suggest such a meeting anytime you ask for a meeting at this time, until the recommendations from public health officials change and the situation/severity subsides.

What We’ve Already Done
As most existing clients are aware, stress tests have always been a common aspect of our work. Because this was deep in the culture of our organization, such stress testing has always been part of our internal processes along with the research and analysis we perform for our clients.

For our clients, this means we’ve long ago performed stress tests and sensitivity analysis studies for nearly all of you already about your vulnerability to certain levels of decline in the market value of your financial assets. If you have any questions about the results of any of your stress tests done, we encourage you discuss this further with your financial planner in your next meeting. This research informs nearly all of the financial planning we do for you, and is a large source of our own confidence in supporting a safer retirement plan for each of you.

For our company (which directly impacts our ability to serve our clients), we have been preparing for years for any scenario that might keep our staff physically unable to work together in the same location (for any reason). Based on this past contingency planning and pre-existing testing, we are already well prepared for any location disruptions.

We have several geographically dispersed locations today, and our staff are already able to perform client work and perform activities from home should the need arise. Importantly, all staff members are already equipped with secure computer hardware, special voice-over-IP phones, and secondary factors of authentication that ensure only authorized employees are accessing client information, wherever that might be.

Summary
We understand the current situation is worrisome, and we want you to know we’re here for you, whatever the future might hold. We’re prepared to continue our work and service to our clients and do everything necessary to ensure you are cared for.

Most Sincerely,

William A. Callahan, RLP, CFA, CFP®
President & CEO

Military Tax Break for Nebraska

Nebraska offers a wonderful tax break opportunity for retired military members, and is one we commonly use with clients of our Omaha and Lincoln financial advisors.
Military retirees may be eligible to reduce Nebraska income taxes on their military retirement benefits by filing Form 1040N-MIL.
This tax break is available for retired military members who served active duty, in the National Guard, or as Reservists. For families where both spouses are military members, a Form 1040N-MIL must be filed for each military retiree. Also important to note, Form 1040N-MIL must be filed within two years after the date of separation.

How much can military retirees save on Nebraska taxes?

There are two available options:
  • Option 1: Allows the exclusion from Nebraska taxes of 40% of the military retirement benefit included in federal income. However, this tax break is only available for seven consecutive taxable years, beginning the year of the election; or
  • Option 2: Allows the exclusion from Nebraska tax of 15% of the military retirement benefit included in federal income for all taxable years, beginning with the year in which the retired service member turns 67 years of age.

Making the election

Because Nebraska does not allow changes to the 1040N-MIL, a mistake in making the election could be costly. Above all, filing the tax break election within the two year period is essential. Once the two year period after the date of separation has passed, no election is available.
Consequently, careful planning is required to choose the best option for your retirement situation.
For example, if you are planning to move to another state later in retirement, option 2 might not be advantageous. On the other hand, a separated service member who will not be receiving military retirement benefits until a later date might not see any benefits using option 1.
The timing of the election along with your other factors of retirement income tax timing (consider the tax brackets you might face as the combination of things like Social Security, this pension, required IRA withdrawals, among other factors) along with the date at which the military retirement benefits will begin are factors to consider in optimizing and obtaining this benefit.