Corona Virus- Don’t live in FEAR.
Coronavirus which also is known as COVID 19 is all anyone is talking about. From Social Media, to Cable News it has created hysteria and panic across the globe.
I would not be telling the truth if it has not made me think how this virus will impact my family. It is without question this is a horrible event and even one loss of life is terrible. As we start to adjust to the reality of living with the virus in our society it makes me think about the financial impact to all of us. A financial impact which may take a greater toll on people than the virus itself. Part of the economic consequences is the impact to nearly 80% of the population living paycheck to paycheck and how this economic downturn will further impact them.
This week we will probably see the largest loss of employment at one time in U.S. history and I am certain this will be an overwhelming event to people who may not have a paycheck coming soon. I still have many memories of the credit crisis of 2008/2009 including when I lost my job and I was uncertain of how I was going to cover my bills for an extended period of time. It was just frightening, but from that experience I have learned a lot and can tell you firsthand it is not the end of the world. You will survive.
I don’t want to scare you, but want to give you some sensible, level-headed actions to address now while you can. Well before I learned about Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps I knew the importance of thinking and writing things down. I remember taking stock of what resources I had and focused on prioritizing the things I needed to get through the downturn. I adjusted as soon as I realized the potential of losing my time. This is what I now know as being “Intentional” in my spending. If I had planned better, I would have had a larger emergency fund, but at least I had the opportunity to adjust my spending. If I had known about the 7 Baby Steps at the time, I think I would have been in better financial shape and had less stress. Take action now if this sounds like you. What I would say now is it makes no sense worrying you did not do something right in the past. Focus on what you can do right now and start Making a Plan. It’s not going to happen by accident.
Here are some things you can do to keep you on your feet whether you lose your job or money gets tight.
- Get on a budget.
One of Dave Ramsey’s quotes is “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” This type of logic makes a lot of sense especially if we know times may get lean. Ask yourself would you take a road trip and not use a map? This is the same idea with budgeting. Making a monthly budget will show you exactly where your money is going just like a map will show you how to get to your destination.
Without a budget, you really can’t make money stay on course because you might not even know how much money you have to work with. Using a budget will show you places where you can cut back and save money.
If you don’t have any income right now, then make a budget based on the amount of money you do have. If you have $2,000 left in your bank account, budget out exactly where each of those dollars will go. We call this giving those dollars a name.
If you still have cash coming in from your spouse’s job or some other source, then adjust your budget to reflect that. Maybe the two of you usually bring in a combined $5,000 a month. But with the loss of one income, you’re down to $2,500 a month.
Adjust your budget to live off one income for the time being. It might be tough to switch up your lifestyle, but you’ve got to make temporary sacrifices to get through this.
Tracking how your spending is also vital. With some quarantine’s in place some of us may not be able to go out and spend money on dining out, Starbucks or all of the little day to day expenses we make. The quarantine is not going last forever and the hangover from the financial impact may last a while. Best practice is Start Now and use the time you have now to look back at how you spend money and Make a Plan.
- The Four Walls.
When times are tight it is important to focus on the things you really need to survive. These are what we call the Four Walls. Nothing else is more important, so other things you spend money are not important. The Four Walls are your priority, so pay for these things in this order before anything else:
These are the basics you need to keep going so you can live to fight another day. And it’s really hard to fight when your family doesn’t have food, isn’t it? So if there’s no food in the fridge, don’t pay the cable bill.
If there’s any money left over after you take care of the Four Walls, make a list of what else you need to pay and tackle that in order of importance. When you run out of money—that’s it. Someone on the list isn’t getting paid, and that’s just how it goes. But it sure as heck isn’t going to be the checkout lady at the grocery store. Remember, that’s priority number one!
If you’re renting and having trouble coming up with cash right now, don’t stress out. Reach out to your landlord and be honest with them about what’s going on. They might be able to work something out with you for the time being, but they can’t help if they don’t know. Be up front with them and pray for the best.
- Clean house and Sell Stuff.
Everything is going Virtual. eBay or Poshmark. Why can’t you? Put cash in your pocket by selling what you don’t need or use. You know you have been meaning to clean out that garage or closet. Why not get some money for those things? Our family does this all of the time. Ask yourself whether those shoes sitting in the closet look better than the cash in your wallet?
- Get a temporary job or start a side hustle.
I have heard Amazon and Walmart are hiring staff to fulfill all of those requests for Toilet paper and all of the things people have been hoarding the last couple of weeks. Grocery stores are hiring. If you don’t have a job due to the Corona Virus you will have options. You don’t have to make a career of these jobs, but if you need cash this can be option for you.
Yes, the options may be limited but this how you can be intentional. Either spend less or earn more. Be on the lookout for opportunities in your neighborhood and be inventive. Nextdoor.com or Community Information Pages on Social Media are great places to look. Think cutting the grass, picking up leaves, babysitting, or dog walking. Every little bit helps.
- Look for things to cut.
My family knows I am the King of finding ways to cut expenses. During this time it is important to cut back on any unnecessary expenses that you can. Maybe you won’t need all of your subscriptions (think Netflix, Hulu, meal delivery kits). You can always sign up again as you have more cash flow. I am not here to tell you what you should cut as this is up to you. Again, as long as you as give every dollar you spend a name that is up to you. What I am trying to explain is YOU must decide what your priorities are and be INTENTIONAL.
I cut out cable a long time ago and have switched to YouTube TV. My family did not like the change initially, but when I switched, I think I saved $40 a month. If you do the math that is $480 a year! Call your provider and see what they will do for you. Call your Cell Phone provider as well. Never take the first offer and ask what else they can do for you. It can’t hurt and if they say they can’t do anymore you will have to decide whether you continue with their service or switch. Other options are to downgrade your service. Maybe you don’t need the 500 Channels or perhaps you don’t need the 1000 MB internet service. None of these things fall into the Four Walls, remember?
The reality of today is “Social Distancing” may be good for you budget. Perhaps you are not driving as much, not going out to lunch or dinner, but if you think about it you probably won’t be spending as much. Maybe this is the time to put that savings away and beef up your emergency fund if you have one or if you don’t get one started.
We know making sacrifices like this can feel like adding insult to injury when you’re already hurting. But keep reminding yourself: This is not forever. We’re going to make it through this! You’re making temporary sacrifices to tread water until this storm passes and you’re back on your feet again.
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Would You Like Help Creating A Plan For Your Child's College Fund Or Your Own Retirement Needs?
We Help Families & Individuals Create Financial Plans For Success.
Mark Kelly, Certified Fee-Only Raleigh Financial Planner™
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