How To Manage Money In A Pandemic
Hey Money Talkers! Today’s blog post will be about something I never thought that I would have to experience at all, let alone attempt to give advice about. We are currently experiencing very uncertain times as the COVID-19 virus is infecting the entire world.
During these times of uncertainty many people are experiencing business slowing, no business, or being laid off completely. While the virus is on the forefront of everyone’s minds the financial toll this virus is taking on many Americans may be an even scarier thing to face. Individuals, business owners, renters, home owners, and the economy as a whole has never endured this before. So in these trying times I thought that I would try to give you guys my advice on how you should be managing your money during this unprecedented pandemic (and I may touch on how to manage your health, time, and sanity as well ;). So let's get down to it!
My first advice is to keep as much of your money liquid as possible. I am not saying to run out to the bank and drain your checking and savings account. However, you never know what the next few weeks, or months, will bring an
d money talks. So always try to have cash on hand, just in case.
Budget & Save
If you do not already have a budget, now is the time to create one.
Come on, stop putting it off…. You literally have all the time in the world because we should be “self quarantining” and “social distancing”. There are no more excuses!
If you already have a budget created, great! But obviously a budget you created when you were working full time is not going to work in the current situation we are all facing. Go through your budget cut where you can. Look through all of your expenses and cut out what is not absolutely necessary at this moment in time. Keep in mind when everything returns to normal (hopefully sooner, rather than later) you can bring back some of the things you cut out… if you really want to. So no more frivolous spending (sorry internet shopping), no dropping an insane amount of money at the grocery store buying things you may not need or know that you won’t use, and no more unneeded memberships or subscriptions.
So for instance, do you need your gym membership right now when they are closed and you can’t even go? NO! So call and cancel it. Do you need Netflix, and Hulu, and Disney+, and HBO, and all of these subscriptions direly right now in these uncertain times? NO! Pick your favorite and cancel the rest, for now…. And hey, you never know, maybe you realize you really don’t need every TV streaming service out there after all. Those were just the first examples that popped into my head… but you all get my drift here. If it is not absolutely necessary, cut it out!
Another thing that you can do to cut even necessary expenses is... negotiate… dun dun dun! I know a lot of people are not aware that bills are negotiable, but they are, and what better time to try to work on your negotiation skills than when you are sitting in your house all day getting fat on your quarantine snacks and watching TV all day? So start calling your credit card companies, your loan providers, your utility providers, your landlords, whoever you pay money to, and simply ask them “Hey, I know that you are aware of what is currently going on in the economy, but I am going through a really rough time right now. Is there any way that:
You can waive my interest rate?
You can freeze my account for a month or two?
We can work out a payment plan of some sort?
Whatever it is that you think might work, TRY IT! It can’t hurt to ask. The worst you can get is a no; and you might be surprised by how much people are willing to work with you considering everything that is going on right now.
Once you have your budget cut down to only essential expenses then all you have to do is stick to it and any money you do have coming in SAVE IT! You don’t know if we will be going into a quarantine lockdown like Italy and not have any income coming in at all. It is always better to prepare for the worst and hope for the best then the other way around.
Sidenote! I know we all have essentials that we must purchase, but let's be more conscious of where we spend our hard earned money. Consider making your purchases from local businesses instead of larger companies. Walmart will be OK if you stop shopping there, but that local market down the street could really use your business right about now just to stay afloat. So that is just something to keep in mind.
Make Mo Money!
I know this sounds crazy… like, “If I could make more money I would have been doing it already.” But you know that that is a lie. You were complacent before. You thought it was all good. You were content making the money you made and living where you lived and driving the car you drive. But now everything is different! Making more money in this moment is not about elevating your social status, it is literally the difference between going hungry or eating for some right now. That fact changes the hustle game tremendously. So if you are out of work, or even if business is just slow right now because of the Coronavirus, you have two options to increase your income: Get another job or get get a side hustle.
When I say get another job, I do not mean to permanently leave the job you currently have that is slow or is not giving you hours at all because of the situation, I mean to get another job to hold you over for now. If you have a vehicle ANY place that delivers is hiring out the whazoo right now to keep up with demand. You could apply to drive for Amazon, UberEats, PostMates, DoorDash, there are sooo many companies that deliver it’s ridiculous. You could work at a grocery store, those places are still super busy, and it’s an essential job. You could even work at a restaurant that has a drive through.
I know, these may be jobs that you have never considered before. Some of these jobs might pay a little less than you are used to, but they are the jobs available to you if you are out of work. Any wage is better than NO wage, anyday. So do what you have to do so that you can keep a steady flow of income to tide you over until all of this blows over. Because, in all actuality, we have NO CLUE how long this will last.
If this "whole other job" thing is too much for you then try to get a side hustle. ANYTHING can be turned into a side hustle.
You can do hair or nails since salons are closed.
You can cook and sell your homemade dishes.
You can start selling things you have around your house that you don’t use on Offerup or Craigslist.
You can start knitting and sell super cute homemade scarves.
You can start painting and selling your masterpieces.
You can start babysitting since everybody has Bay Bay bad ass children’s stuck at home with them and they may need a break.
The possibilities are truly endless. Get creative! The whole point is to find something to do to occupy your time while still making money off of that activity somehow.
Make Sound Investments
If you do not have money saved do not, and I repeat… DO NOT start pulling your money from your investment or retirement accounts! This is a huge mistake! Yeah, you could use the money now, but if you pull your money out now when the market is so low you are losing money on your investment. It is better to try to find other means of income. I know it is scary to look at how much you may have recently lost in the stock market, but I assure you the market will return to normal. The market always has ups and downs, but the market always historically gradually increases over time. So be patient and your accounts will return to their former glory when all of this passes.
I highly suggest against this next point, but if you are really that tight on cash, what you could do is borrow against your account instead of pulling the money directly out. Depending on the account you are borrowing against you may be able to borrow the money interest free. Then simply pay it back when you get back on your feet.
Additionally, for those of you who do have money saved this may be a good time to contribute more to your retirement or investment accounts. Buying in this dirt cheap means that those investments should grow substantially when the market returns to its usual rhythm. So just a thought for those of you who can afford it.
Refinance Your Home
I know this came out of left field. But with mortgage interest rates at a record low right now, why not?! Refinancing can be a great financial move if it reduces your mortgage payment, shortens the term of your loan, or helps you build equity more quickly. When used carefully, it can also be a valuable tool for bringing debt under control. Before you refinance, take a careful look at your financial situation and ask yourself: How long do I plan to continue living in the house? How much money will I save by refinancing? Historically, the rule of thumb is that refinancing is a good idea if you can reduce your interest rate by at least 2%. However, many lenders say 1% savings is enough of an incentive to refinance. With these historic lows, I am sure many homeowners can reduce their interest rates by 2%.
Keep in mind that refinancing costs 2% to 5% of the loan's principal. It takes years to recoup that cost with the savings generated by a lower interest rate or a shorter term. So, if you are not planning to stay in the home for more than a few years, the cost of refinancing may negate any of the potential savings. So just try to make educated decisions that will improve your overall financial picture.
One of my best pieces of advice in these crazy times is to stay calm. Do not let this shit stress you out anymore than it has to! This too, shall pass. Remain calm and focused. Focus on budgeting, saving, earning any income you possibly can, and making sound investments. That is all you can do. Just do your best and the rest will work itself out.
Stay Healthy and Safe
My BEST advice in these trying times is to stay healthy and safe. Make sure that you are following CDC guidelines. I am obviously no expert or scientist, but here is the general concensus.
Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds every time. Sanitize them in between washes.
Try your hardest not to touch things you don’t have to touch such as railings.
Experts warn that wearing disposable gloves and masks cannot protect you from Coronavirus. However, if you do decide to wear them, change them often. Just because you are wearing gloves does not mean that you are not still touching potentially contaminated surfaces and then spreading them to other surfaces or touching your face. Likewise, just because you are wearing a disposable mask does not mean that contaminates won’t seep under it or through it. Additionally, when you wear a mask you may touch the outside of that mask that may be contaminated or place that mask on a surface that you may then touch and contaminate yourself. Wearing these items may also give you a false sense of security, so if you opt to use them please do so with caution.
Try not to touch your facial orifices. You can wear a mask and gloves all you want, but if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with contaminated hands you can still contract the virus. Please be mindful.
Practice social distancing. The objective of social distancing is to reduce the probability of contact between people carrying an infection, and others who are not infected, so as to minimize transmission.
Stay at home! Do not continue to go on about your life like there is not a pandemic going on. If you do not have to leave your home then don’t. And this does not mean having a house party… ratchets. Do not congregate in groups of ten or more. If you do have to leave your home take all of the necessary precautions.
Make The Most of Your Quarantine Time
You do not want to look back at this when it is all over and think “Gee, I really should have used all of that free time more wisely.” Now is the time to be productive. Create a to-do list: deep clean your house, clean out your closet, organize your files, read that book, hem those pants, work on your business or marketing plan for when things get back to normal. Whatever it is that you have been wanting to do and just never had the time to get around to, now is the time. Get everything on that to-do list to-done!
All jokes aside, these are scary times for us all. But having a plan in place can make even the most daunting task seem doable. So don’t lose your heads over this. If you budget, save, try to increase your income, make sound investments, are productive, stay healthy, safe, and sane we will all get through this rough patch, and hopefully be better for it.