The path to a financial comeback

Two people stand on top of a mountain at sunset with packs and a walking stick

Key Points

  • Most investors (73%) have experienced at least one major financial setback of some kind in their life, according to the Ameriprise Financial Comebacks study.
  • The most common financial setbacks among investors in the past are typically the same setbacks we are seeing during the pandemic.
  • The good news is that with time and deliberate actions, about 9 in 10 investors have made some degree of a recovery.

Many individuals experience at least one major financial setback at some point. And while it’s costly and takes time to recover, 89% of those we surveyed either made a comeback or are on the path to recovering.  

Ameriprise conducted the Financial Comebacks study1 to gain a deeper understanding of how consumers overcome financial challenges. During this time when many individuals are facing financial hardships and health risks, findings from this study provide valuable insights to discuss with your financial advisor.  

Top 5 setbacks and tips for preparing a comeback 

Nearly three quarters (73%) of individuals reported at least one financial setback in their lives. Here are the five most common ones along with actions to consider.

1. Market losses: If the value of your investment portfolio decreases during market volatility, you might feel tempted to make changes or move to cash. Stay invested if you are able. Talk with your advisor if you are concerned or if your goals or risk tolerance have changed.
2. Earning less money than expected: A pay cut during a challenging economic period may not result in a setback. If you don’t have an emergency cash reserve, work with your advisor to find ways to free up additional cash. If you are working, establish or maintain three to six months in a cash account. The No. 1 step investors took to prepare for unexpected financial events is setting aside an emergency savings fund.
3. Job loss: 
If you experience a job loss, reduce unnecessary expenses and speak with an advisor to understand your options. For those who qualify, the CARES Act may provide additional financial support. And try to avoid tapping into your retirement accounts as there could be impacts to taxes and future growth.  
4. Supporting family members financially: It’s natural to want to help loved ones through a financially difficult period. Remember the airplane analogy: Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. So make sure your finances are in good order before offering help. Also, make sure you clearly understand whether the help you're providing is a gift or a loan so you don’t put your own financial situation at risk. 
5. Bad financial decisions: During a period of economic stress and health risk, judgement can become clouded. Avoid making impulsive short-term decisions. Lean on your financial advisor for targeted and customized information. They know you and your situation and can provide personalized financial advice. 



A financial comeback takes time

Most investors in our study (89%) have made some level of comeback ranging from a partial to full recovery. Some investors (21%) even said they are better off financially. 

A key takeaway from the study is that financial comebacks take time, often several years. Nearly two-thirds of investors said it took them between one and five years to get their finances back on track.



Making a financial comeback

The most common financial setbacks among investors in the past are typically the same as those we see today. If you’re currently facing a financial setback, consider taking the following actions with personalized advice and support from your Ameriprise advisor.

Meet with a financial advisor

During difficult times, meeting with a financial professional can be more helpful than ever. Talk with your advisor to guide you through financial decisions to help you get through this difficult time. 

Stay focused on your goals

Don’t make impulsive decisions that could have a negative impact on your long-term goals. Stay calm and stay the course. Ameriprise clients can view goal progress online — any time, from any device. 

Scrutinize your expenses and monthly budget

Look at your budget with a critical eye. Decide what spending is necessary and what’s discretionary. Cut out or reduce unnecessary expenses. 

Avoid tapping your retirement accounts

There are many drawbacks to taking an early retirement plan distribution including the taxes you may face. Also, an early withdrawal reduces the size of your retirement nest egg, and the funds you’ll withdraw will no longer grow tax deferred. 

Invest in ongoing financial planning

Tracking your goals and progress — any time, from any device — can help you feel confident, connected and in control of your financial life.