The pandemic has raised concerns for many due to the financial complications it may have caused due to the economy, job losses, and for business owners who are dealing with reduced sales levels. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of financial struggle for people, and unfairly so. But if there is anything to learn from this pandemic, it is to be resilient. And resilient with our finances.
Job lay-offs, or fear of a job loss, have been the number one concern for people. Commonly a primary source of income, you may be concerned about your finances and how to manage your money through uncertainty.
Melissa Leong is one of the best-loved authorities on personal finance, a frequent contributor to outlets such as BNN Bloomberg, author of Happy Go Money and a podcast host.
An expert in personal finances, she is offering four tips on how you can get your finances through the pandemic:
You can’t get to your destination if you don’t know where you are. You need to understand where you stand in terms of your finances. Get extreme clarity on your money situation because much could have changed for you even several months ago. What’s your income, and what are your expenses? List your bills and when they are due. Go through your bank statements and determine your needs. Categorize things on a spreadsheet or just put pen to paper.
My parents, who were new immigrants, were all about stretching each dollar and living modestly because they believed that they needed to sacrifice today to create security for tomorrow. This pandemic has taught us that the future is uncertain. It’s best to be prepared with some savings. As you go through your statements, ask yourself, what can you do without? For your personal expenses, go line by line and reduce costs. Consider your monthly memberships, subscriptions, etc. Call companies and negotiate lower rates. Consider your loyalty points, your unused gift cards.
Build up your relief fund
If you’re taking in an income, even if it’s just a small amount, start putting money aside in a high-interest savings account. You want this money to be easily accessible to cover any unexpected expenses or lost wages, etc. Even though I am an optimist, my husband and I have had many discussions about worst-case scenarios regarding our income; it’s been a great stress reliever to know that while we hope for sunshine, we’re prepared for a storm.
Using debt responsibly
Make sure you’re on top of the money you owe. If you’re receiving payment deferrals on your credit card, for example, markdown when the deferral period ends. And keep in mind that interest may still accrue on your balance, and at the end of this, you’re going to have more debt to deal with. If you need to borrow during this time, try to take on as little as possible and see if you can first access low-interest debt. If you’re considering any credit card balance transfers, make sure you read the fine print. And request your credit report to monitor your credit history and make sure there are no errors.