The crisis of COVID-19 has taught everyone how to be more self-sufficient because people are isolated from others and in many ways have had to become their own support systems. It’s important to be reflective of this unprecedented time to take these experiences and turn them into learning moments. Finances are a major cause of stress for Americans; with women, single parents, and those living in lower-income households reporting higher levels of stress due to money. Take time during self-isolation to learn to be your own financial support system and take control of your finances.
Map out your financial goals:
Take some extra free time to map out your financial goals for the near future. Everyone’s situation is unique but here are some common financial strains that you may need to sink your money into as you look ahead:
- Sooner rather than later, you may need a new car. By digging deeper into your financial situation, you can calculate the amount of money you’d be able to spend on a monthly loan to get a new car, which is both exciting and stressful. However, with the right financial plan in place you can look forward to being able to afford a new car while also saving on current maintenance expenses your vehicle may be costing you.
- You may be feeling the stress of living in a small apartment or making rent payments to a landlord during this pandemic. It’s important to know that you can still buy a house during the pandemic and no matter what your financial situation may be. Empower yourself by doing the research on the most viable options for you throughout this crisis. Learning about FHA loans or government grants will surprise you because they make the process of buying a home for the first time financially more reasonable.
A vital part of mapping out your financial goals is to plan for any foreseen income changes. You may be going through a change right now, with being laid off or collecting unemployment insurance that may differ from your previous paycheck. On the other hand, you can use this extra free time to inspire yourself and set goals to make more money in the near future. If you have a side hustle or passion project, then create tangible goals for yourself for the rest of this year to increase your income!
Creating a spend log:
It’s more important than ever to keep track of your spending. With increased time at home, you may have noticed packages piling up on your doorstep every day! Additionally, you’re likely spending less on getting your nails and hair done, but replaced that spending with online shopping. The best way to avoid overspending is learning to create a spend log.
Of course, online banking makes keeping track of finances really easy. To be more proactive, you can start to use a piece of paper or a spreadsheet on your computer to mark down your income. Do this every time you get a paycheck, whether that’s weekly or biweekly, then start to subtract all of the money that you know will come out in this pay period. This may include rent, subscriptions, and food. Then, you will easily see the amount of money you should have left over after paying your bills.
Next, decide if there is any extra money that can be transferred to a savings account, put towards a credit card bill, or student loans. Finally, start subtracting money you are spending for fun and every time you purchase something subtract it from the new total. Not only can this help you spend less, it helps you feel more in control of your financial situation. Feeling more in control of your finances and knowing the exact amount of money you should have in your account on a certain date can help to significantly reduce any stress you may feel related to money.
Reminding yourself that you are enough:
Money is a major cause of stress in people’s lives, so knowing at all times what your financial situation is can give you a sense of independence and peace of mind. It’s easy to get down on yourself for not making enough money or not having the best habits in place to save for the things you want or need. Creating new habits to better your mental health first can help you feel prepared to take control of your financial health too.
Start by practicing gratitude every night, simply keep a note in your phone and before bed write down 1-3 things you feel grateful for that day. This can help ease your mind before going to sleep and feel more refreshed when you wake up the next morning. With any extra time you may have in the morning, start the habit of mediating and or practicing self-love. Focusing on being kinder to yourself allows you to keep negative thoughts on your current situation out of your head, and keep you in a better mood to tackle more difficult tasks, like handling your finances.
The current global crisis came as a shock to everyone and taking the time to manage this new way of life at home hasn’t been easy for a lot of people, so take solace in the fact that you are not alone. Being reflective of your time spent in isolation can help you become my own financial support system, as well as better your mental health practices along the way. Use this time as a learning experience for yourself and you may be surprised at the life-long habits you can create!