In these extraordinary times, most of us have seen marked changes in our financial situation. It’s alarming, just another unknown in a world that seems to announce new reasons for uncertainty every day. It’s as if everything we learn about COVID-19 brings new questions and concerns.
Managing cash flow has never been more critical, as we try to handle the financial set-backs. Whether we’re dealing with employment lay-offs, furloughs, or job insecurity, most of us have seen a cut in our monthly income. There’s no question it’s stressful but it’s not something we can control. We need to take action and head to what we can control, to where we can affect positive outcomes, and that means managing our cash flow.
You are not powerless in the face of the COVID Challenge. There are many aspects of financial planning that are still in your hands. I believe that, taking control of those now, will begin to ease your anxiety and better equip you to move ahead, toward your goals for the future.
Lainymar Wealth Group can help you take the reins. Here’s how you can start…
Prepare a budget for food and essential bills
– Write a list of all bills which need to be paid, and what date they are due. Include hydro, heat, telephone, internet, insurance, taxes, etc.
– Check to see if changing any of your service providers could save you money. Ask about available discounts and promotions; many are available but are not advertised so you need to ask in order to know.
– Create a weekly menu. That way you will buy exactly what you need and avoid wasting food.
– Write a list of what you need to spend each week on groceries.
– Cook at home rather than eating out to reduce costs. After saying that, I personally like the idea of ordering in once a week as a treat in a time of few indulgences. It makes a welcome change from cooking and, at the same time, helps our local restaurants.
Assess your spending and cut back on all non-essentials
– Review credit card and bank statements to get a handle on where your money is really going.
– Cancel all subscriptions you can do without. Maybe there’s a magazine subscription you’ve had for years and you really don’t read anymore.
– Insurance coverage on individual items such as mobile phones, laptops, and printers tend to be costly with minimal coverage or benefit. Check if your home insurance already covers these items or if you really do need this insurance.
Review outstanding debt and what it costs
– Do you have a car loan? It may be possible to get a new loan at a lower interest rate.
– Talk to your mortgage lender to see what they can do to help. A payment holiday can often provide the breathing room that is so needed right now.
– Is your mortgage coming close to renewal? In some cases, it makes sense to renew early and take advantage of lower rates. Remember that there will be a penalty for renewing early so do the math.
“Staying safe” means financially too
Times like these create the perfect environment for scammers. I have heard many stories of them being out in full force, with texts, emails, and phone calls which may catch you off guard. They are especially dangerous to the more vulnerable among us.
-If you receive unexpected communication from a provider you deal with, call or contact them using the contact information on the back of your card to double check that what you received is legitimate.
-Above all else, make sure never to ever answer any communication which asks for your bank or credit card details.
-Don’t ever be afraid to discuss these attempts with family and friends. Maybe they’ve been receiving the same communications too.
Get the help you need
-Do not wait to reach out for help until you or your family are suffering. Being prepared and accessing information is always a good strategy. There are numerous government assistance programs available to help you get through the current financial challenge.
Moving forward, take a look back
Visit your budget regularly to identify where you’ve been struggling in the past. Try to see the patterns in your spending and shortfalls.
Look after yourself and put things in perspective
Don’t allow your financial situation to dominate your life and bring you down. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that you lead a healthy life in order to keep your immune system strong. Fatigue and worry can lead to poor decision making so take positive steps to boost your well-being.
-Try to avoid the constant onslaught of news updates. Make a pact with yourself that you will watch the news once a day and, in between, just turn it off.
-Go for walks outdoors and enjoy springtime. As much as you can, tune into the outside world of nature rather than the inside world, the thoughts going around and around in your head.
-Plan what you intend to do each day. Even everyday chores like cleaning out a closet or wiping down paintwork can give you a sense of accomplishment when those tasks are completed.
Plan for the future because there will be one
While it may not be the right time to make any major changes, this is an ideal time to review your financial investments.
The first step is to revisit or create a financial plan with a trusted financial professional. When you do plan your individual strategy, consider the following:
-What, if anything, has anything changed? Are your goals and dreams still the same?
-Do you still intend to retire at the same time you had planned before?
-Did your investment portfolio react as you thought it would or did it drop more than you had expected?
-Do you still feel comfortable with your portfolio’s exposure risk?
-What is your expectation of the markets going forward? Is it realistic?
-Do you feel comfortable with the protection you have in place, if anything should happen to you?
-Do your will and power of attorney reflect your wishes accurately?
Your financial advisor should have connected with you by now but, if not, you should reach out. Make sure you are communicating your fears and feelings openly and accurately, your questions as well. Keeping on track with the best financial plan for you depends on the information you provide; it’s very difficult for an advisor to give sound advice, to knowledgeably coach or prescribe a plan, without it.
While these times are uncertain, one thing is not. We can rest assured that this too shall pass and life will go on after the pandemic. It may be different, yes, and we too will be different people having come through this challenge. But, as the saying goes, when all of this is over what will have truly mattered is how we treated each other, so be kind to others and to yourself as well.
Stay strong, stay safe, and stay connected. Contact me at any time and I am happy to help,