How to prepare for another shutdown

As unpredictable as 2020 has been so far, it’s essential that we take all measures to ensure our safety as well as our families. Navigating this new normal (for now), is deeper than being mindful of the updated hours of many stores, remembering to wear our masks diligently and maintain social distancing. It also is about considering what happens if our employment status suddenly changes, a decline in work hours or the financial responsibilities of life piling up in the midst of a pandemic. Use these tips as a starting place to take a deep dive into your current financial makeup and redefine what’s most important now – and beyond. 

Save as much as possible

I know what you’re thinking – I’m saving since I’m pretty much forced to spend a lot of time at home. This isn’t always the case. Because of this forced shift, companies are using savvy marketing and other gimmicks to further encourage spending. Online shopping has increased for luxury products, beauty, pharmacy, outdoor and apparel. With a lot of us spending more time indoors, coupled with boredom and attempting to find emotional relief – the dollars continue to fly out of the door. Comb through your recent bank statements since quarantine efforts began and keep a running list of where your money has really gone. If eating out is the culprit, reroute that money for weekly grocery shopping. If it’s online shopping, set a maximum amount for the month. Once you hit that number, your cyber shopping sprees are halted. If the limit isn’t reached, throw the remaining funds in your savings account. Don’t view this as a chore, view it as increasing your peace of mind. Set a goal, adhere to it and then reward yourself. Deprivation isn’t the answer, but developing a level of discipline is. 

Utilize any pandemic relief programs, offerings or funding

As far as we know, there may never be another time in which federal student loans are in forbearance with a zero percent interest rate. Reach out to your creditors; do your due diligence and seek out assistance when needed. If you need an extension on bill due dates or other lenders, contact them specifically to hear all options that are available to you. 

Take the time to think through what is most valuable to you

This can look different for everyone. For some, it could be the health and welfare of their family. For others, it can be financial freedom, minimizing debt or keeping living expenses relatively low. Whatever this may be, make sure you make choices every day to achieve that goal. If it doesn’t align with where you want your financial future to be, place it on the back burner. 

Stay the course

This has and continues to affect us all in so many different ways. There will be moments of triumph, just as there will be moments of disappointment. Stay committed to yourself, your health, and your goals. It’s easy to look at what works for others but dedicate the time to truly evaluate what works for you. Success isn’t defined by how others view you – it’s determined by the standard you set for yourself. 

Stay well.

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The Finance Bar is a personal finance suite helping women and couples achieve financial wellness through financial therapy, education, and an innovative learning hub on wheels. Creator Marsha Barnes is Certified in Financial Therapy, Financial Social Work, and serves as an Official FICO Brand Ambassador, and was named GOBankingRates’ Best Money Expert in the Net-Worth Category.

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