I am working on a large post about organizing your finances but thought I should first do a quick post about the coronavirus. These times remind me of a speech I gave a few years ago to a local organization about navigating your finances during a job loss. I think a lot of those same concepts apply.
On top of the coronavirus issues going on around us, some of us may be laid off, having to stay home with children or between jobs right now. But even if you are at home, there are still some smart tips you can take with your money.
- First of all, don’t panic! – In most cases, this is a temporary situation and we will recover. Stay calm, keep a good attitude and look at this as an opportunity to get your household and finances in order.
- Conserve Cash – Think of this time as a time to save a little more. Without going to work each day, you might be already saving on coffee, lunch money, parking fees, gasoline, etc. Now, many stores are closed, and you may be housebound, so use the time to get caught up at home reading, organizing, binge watching movies and completing those many house projects. Stay away from extra credit card debt. Stay away from things you don’t need on the internet. Instead, stockpile your cash. Get excited about not spending money.
- Call your lenders – If you are in a tight financial position, call your lenders and see if they are offering any leniency due to the coronavirus situation. Some are allowing you to defer payments if needed: student loans, mortgages, car payments, utilities, credit card payments and others may allow you to defer during this time. Defer means that you are delaying payment until some future date. If you still have a job and can do so, keep all payments on schedule. Remember, this is a deferral, not a forgiveness of the debt.
- Don’t Hoard – My state is on a lock down, but before this was announced, I found myself stockpiling supplies. Two bags of dog food, five boxes of cereal, six loaves of bread, and enough canned goods to overflow the pantry. I was plowing through money each time I went to the store. One day I went for milk and while at the store, I spent $160.00. Stores are not closing, there is no shortage of the things I need, and if there was, I know I could put out an S.O.S. and friends would share out of their supplies. So, I’ve made the choice to stay out of the stores, shop with a list and not buy into the panic and hoarding. I have enough, and you probably do too.
- Let It Be – I want to confess, that I have not looked at my financial position at all this month. The stock market has been diving, and I know my investments, retirement accounts and 401K are probably way down. I’m staying the course, so there is no sense to look and worry. I’m staying put. I am going to let it be. I’m continuing to invest in my 401K even in these uncertain times. Remember you are in it for the long run, and the market will always go up and down. If you pull out when the market is down, you lose out when it goes up again; and it will go back up. Just let it be.
- Stay Focused – Keep a schedule and keep yourself focused and busy each day. This is a time to gather your financial ducks all in a row.. stay tuned for the financial organizing posts coming soon.
In job loss, (and now in the coronavirus situation) one of my best tips is: “don’t choose a long-term solution to fix a short-term problem.” Sure, we are going through difficult and unprecedented times, but this too shall pass. Don’t overreact financially. Don’t sell your stocks, don’t cash out your 401K, don’t make rash financial decisions amidst all the uncertainty. Breath in, know we are all in this together and just take it day-by-day. Concentrate on what you can do, and this too shall pass.