Lockdowns. Job Loss. Disease. We are living in some of the most difficult times in recent memory. Whether you have children who can’t attend school in-person or you’re struggling with finances due to a job loss or reduced salary, things are stressful everywhere. That stress can be physical, mental, emotional, or even financial. Saving money is a critical need for everyone right now. Uncertainty is the standard, for now, and we all need to prepare ourselves as best we can to get through this thing safely.
Your priority should always be your health because you won’t be able to do anything if you’re sick (and you don’t want to worry about paying large medical bills on top of everything else going on).
Once you feel good about how to protect your health, next you need to focus on managing your money. We don’t know how long this will last, but we do know we need to be smarter about every financial decision we make.
Here are 4 smart money moves to implement now to set yourself up for a better financial future.
Budget by Questioning Everything
Before you start spending less money, you first need to know what you’re spending your money on now. Create a list of everything you spend your money on, starting with the two essentials – bills (like energy and rent) and food. You need a roof over your head and food to eat, but everything else should be up for debate. Whether it’s a streaming TV service or your daily run for expensive coffee, there may be things in your life that, at one time, you couldn’t imagine yourself living without. Now’s the time to re-evaluate how you live and how you can set yourself up for a better life in the future.
Look at everything you either spend money on or want to spend money on (like toys, electronics, or anything else that may seem like a luxury to others). These things should be the first things to go – either don’t buy them, sell what you have, or both.
The goal here is not to prevent yourself from buying anything fun ever again. You just need to be smarter about how you spend your money now to set yourself up for a better financial situation in the future.
Start or Add to Your Emergency Fund
If you haven’t already – start an emergency fund. You can even take the money you were spending on unessential stuff (from the budgeting activity in #1) and start putting that into savings. You were spending it anyway, so you’re not going to miss it. But now, you’ll get to keep it.
If you’re still working, in addition to manually saving money, start saving automatically by setting up an automatic deposit from your paycheck into a savings account. Put aside as much as you can, but even 5 – 10%, saved every time you get paid, can add up significantly.
Use Your Resources
This pandemic is affecting everything you know in some way. From you to schoolteachers, to food packaging companies – everyone has experienced a setback in some way. Fortunately, due to the large impact of this pandemic, there are different resources available to help people financially. From unemployment to deferred or reduced payment plans, there are ways to prevent any financial issues from happening to you.
Whether it’s refinancing your home or getting a low-rate loan, there are programs available for almost any situation. Search for local, state, or even federal assistance programs for COVID-19 to find any programs that can help you.
Start a Side Gig
If you’ve slashed your monthly budget, you may find you are living without things that took up most of your time, like binging T.V. shows. Now that you have more time, why not spend that time making money?
Investing time in developing yourself and finding ways to help others will create a huge return on skills, knowledge, and money for you.
There are different options available out there for part-time and freelance work. You could sell art on Esty, start a blog on your industry, or drive for a ride-share program. You can even make money and do some good for others by donating plasma (which you get paid for). Some of the jobs offer more excitement than others, but even transcribing audio recordings or writing resumes for job applicants can lead to a steady stream of income.
Living in a pandemic can create a lot of anxiety about situations we can’t control. Instead of worrying about the future, start creating the possibility of a better future by managing your finances effectively now. Spending less, saving more, using assistance, and making more money are quick, simple, smart ways to manage your money to set yourself up for a clear future among the confusion and uncertainty we see now.