How practical are retirement savings in a pandemic?

How practical are retirement savings in a pandemic?

by Jaime Catmull
September 10, 2020

How practical are retirement savings in a pandemic?

How practical are retirement savings in a pandemic?

by Jaime Catmull
September 10, 2020


A pandemic like the one we’ve experienced with COVID-19 has completely altered financial strategies. It has upended revenue and profits as well as incomes. As if it wasn’t already challenging enough to save for retirement, a pandemic seemingly has put an end to retirement savings. Or, has it? 

We asked a number of entrepreneurs, financial advisors, and investment experts on what they recommend doing with retirement strategies in the midst of a pandemic. 

Savings-first strategy

Depending on your financial position and type of savings accounts, you may want to address other more-immediate financial need areas. The pandemic clearly caught all of us off-guard, with many losing their income sources or experiencing significant medical expenses. One strategy is to ensure you have significant savings in place for the short-term issues before you focus too much of available funds on long-term accounts like retirement. 

“If you don’t yet have an emergency fund, which many people didn’t have during this pandemic, it might be better to put money in one of those first before adding more to a retirement account. Emergency funds are critical for those unexpected expenses or drops/gaps in income. It’s good to have between three and six months of income in that emergency fund —- even more is better, if possible.” – Kristy Rampton, founder of Buttercup

“In uncertain times, having an emergency fund is crucial. As long as you have your emergency fund, you should absolutely continue contributing to retirement. Let compound interest do its thing.” – Austin Ryder, Founder of Minted Millennial

“My group is affiliated with micro-savings and micro-investment companies, and we have data showing users accessing their much-needed savings during the current pandemic. This is what platforms like this were designed for. Having some kind of retirement savings program can ease anxiety in times like this.” – Michael Gleason, co-founder of

Job and income assessment

Before making any decisions about moving your money into an inaccessible account, look at the stability of your job or business. The last few months painted a picture of how your job did in relation to weathering the pandemic and if it can continue to do so as the economy continues to open and close, facing uncertainty and volatility. 

“Consider the strength of your job. Are you in an industry that has made it through the pandemic? If you work for a company or have clients as a freelancer, how has that company or those clients fared through these unexpected times? If there seems to be stability in your job and sources of income, then it would be good to continue putting money away for retirement. If you are unsure or if your income has gone up and down the last few months, it might be better to keep those funds in a regular account where you can more easily tap into it without any penalty.” – Kimberly Zhang, editor of Under 30 CEO

“Continuing to save for retirement even during the pandemic is practical for someone who has not seen a disruption in income. It’s a good way to offset the continued flow of income. Plus, if you still received your paycheck in addition to the stimulus check, that stimulus check is free money you wouldn’t have otherwise had. The perfect place for those bonus funds are in your retirement account.” – John Rampton, founder of an investment app

Remaining cautious 

There is no need to rush your money into a retirement account. If anything, it’s good to keep the funds accessible so you know you have everything covered during these uncertain times. Many experts agree that, while saving for retirement is admirable, you won’t get too far off track by waiting a few months or a year to see how the pandemic plays out. 

“Retirement savings are always a good idea, but during the pandemic, money is tight for many people. It’s perfectly okay to hold off on adding to your retirement account until you feel more financially stable and comfortable. Pandemics don’t last forever, so go ahead and wait it out, and don’t feel compelled to add to your stress by stretching your finances thin right now.” – Jayson Demers, founder of the email tracking app Email Analytics

Situational-based decisions

Not every situation is the same so it can be difficult to answer a question that may have multiple answers, none of which are necessarily wrong. That’s because there are so many individual factors that go into making this type of financial decision. These factors include age, income, assets, and more. 

Reach out for advice

While the advice listed here can provide assistance and direction, it is also beneficial to contact a financial advisor directly. They can provide recommendations tailored to your personal situation as well as a plan of action that will address your financial goals while also accounting for the risks and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.

This article was written by Jaime Catmull from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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