With very few of us able to report that we’re not feeling the burden of financial hardship right now as a result of the pandemic, a new financial norm is upon us. There’s even fewer of us who are finding our bank balance to be better off in light of all the changes and the lockdown... So chances are we’re all having to make some adjustments to our spending habits.
Managing anxiety surrounding our finances can be a bit of an uphill battle, especially when things are changing so rapidly and in so many areas of our lives at once. While we may be feeling pretty comfortable one day, there’s no saying that the next day might present some new financial challenges to overcome, either for ourselves or for people we care about that we’re helping to support through the storm.
To keep your stress levels in check, and to make sure you’ll be emerging out the other side of the lockdown in reasonable financial standing (and without your pockets turned inside out!), let’s take a look at how we’re minding our dollars and cents during the lockdown, for a bright tomorrow.
To ensure that you’re looking after your money as much as possible during this time, here’s five things you can do right now to spring clean your finances and set yourself in good stead when the world goes back to a new normal:
5. Keep a Watchful Eye Over Your Accounts
Checking your accounts regularly helps you stay on track with your budget. While it’s not advisable for our anxiety levels to have our banking apps open constantly, still be sure to check in on your bank balances and credit card statements daily. When you’re keeping a close eye on the input versus expenditure, you’ll know immediately if there’s any unusual activity in your accounts so you can contact your bank. Plus, you’ll be able to easily identify anything you’re spending on that might not be a need right now, but rather a want.
Try utilizing one of the online resources like a budget calculator to help keep track of your money, and defer to the experts for tailored advice if your finances are more complicated. Many of the banks offer free services to customers that help identify opportunities to better manage your finances, so check with your bank to see if there’s any additional safeguards you can put in place to take the pressure off.
4. Give Your Insurance a Check-Up
With so much buzz surrounding health at the moment, you’ve probably got health on the brain… But have you stopped for a moment to consider yours, and what might happen if you or your family get sick? If you’ve already got health insurance, now is the time to check if you have adequate insurance coverage. And if you haven’t got any at all, it’s a good idea to research some different options.
Many of us were depending on the medical cover provided by our employer and don’t have personal insurance, but at a time like this when jobs and industries are at risk, it can all be a bit of a gamble. If you were to fall ill, avoid ending up in a situation where you have neither adequate health coverage or a steady income. Consider adding some additional personal insurance if you do have an existing policy or if you have insurance provided by your employer- that way you’ll be prepared for anything, no matter how confident you are in your job security.
Additionally, take a look at your life insurance policy while you’re at it. The current situation may have changed your financial standing or obligations, so make sure you and your loved ones will be well looked after in case anything happens.
3. Save Up Reserves in Case Things Go Further South
It may be a bit of a tall order assuming that anyone has much spare cash right now. However, it’s wise to set aside a little of what we do have to budget with, especially now. With changes happening daily in government assistance programs and with all sectors facing potential job losses or pay cuts, it’s a jungle out there. If you’re still able to work or have been advised that you’ll soon be able to return to your job, it’s still sensible to keep a realistic view of upcoming events.
We’ve seen changes and adjustments to government guidelines at a staggering rate as new information is released- and we’ve also seen hard evidence that everyone’s best laid plans aren’t always sustainable. With many big businesses unexpectedly shuttering their doors for good, it’s certainly an idea not to assume that the company you work for is bulletproof. Having a contingency plan is important and to have some savings, however small, is a good safety net in case you do find your financial situation suddenly changed.
While the government is trying to keep up with the demand for unemployment assistance, we’ve seen many assistance program application outlets being overwhelmed with new claims. Claimants are facing long application approval wait times and unreachable customer support services... So try to keep yourself with a bit of a financial buffer zone in case you do find your income source dried up, and will need to support yourself for a few weeks between a gap in potential claim holdups.
2. Re-Evaluate Your Financial Plan
Consolidating all your financial documents in one place is a great start to understanding where your money is going. You’ll be able to paint an accurate picture of your finances for maintenance purposes, and give you the best idea of your financial status.
Do an evaluation on what has worked for you and what hasn’t. Budgeting only works if it’s realistic, and also when you consider that your circumstances could change in an instant in the current financial climate. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but do try to be conservative with your spending right now while things are in flux, and set a clear intention on what is most important to you for your future and goals.
1. Look to the Future
Right now, it seems as though life returning to normal is still some ways off. But as with all things, this won’t last forever and eventually we’ll come out of the lockdown. If you’ve noticed you’re spending less money during these humble economic times of social distancing, you could use these observations as an inspiration, to form new ways to look at your spending habits even post-COVID19.
After the lockdown when things return to normal, how will your spending habits change? What are some of the things you used to spend a lot of money on, but haven’t missed too much? Are there any luxuries you used to indulge in regularly that gave you some instant gratification, but as they added up were slowing you down from achieving your long-term goals?
For many of us, these more meager times have shone a spotlight on just how much pleasure can be gained from simple activities. While it’s lovely to go out to eat and revamp our wardrobes at the drop of a hat, we’ve rediscovered that some of the best things in life are actually free. Perhaps you’ve even been able to save some money during the lockdown, and once it’s lifted you’ll have a new appreciation for how you’re spending, and on what. We do require some luxuries to feel our best, but perhaps now you’ve gone without some things and discovered they weren’t truly as necessary for your happiness as you once thought. This new awareness could supercharge our savings capabilities in the future, as it encourages us to put some real consideration into whether we’d rather blow that bonus on a new pair of shoes… Or if that money would be better enjoyed by saving it up for a fabulous vacation or down payment on our dream home. It’s all about perspective.
Even though it’s obvious that the financial impact of the pandemic isn’t going away any time soon, it’s important to stay positive and know that we’ll get through this. We do find ourselves in uncertain times, but there are acts of generosity and kindness revealing themselves the world over that restore our faith that everything is going to work out.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help from those around you if you’re struggling, and remember that you’re not alone. If you’re in a position to lend a helping hand to somebody who’s been hit hard by the changes, your support and assistance right now could mean more to them than you’ll ever know. Try to enjoy the simple pleasures for the time being, and be safe. We truly hope you and your loved ones are doing ok.
Remember, the world will reopen again. Let’s look to the light at the end of the tunnel and plan on being ready for it.
Stay safe out there,