If you’re like most people, the idea of financially planning for a pandemic was not on your 2020 to-do list. Then COVID-19 hit — and brought with it a number of unexpected financial questions. Things like: what’s the best approach right now to handle financial stress? How can you manage the cost of unexpected expenses due to COVID-19?
In addition to these questions, you may also be dealing with things like job uncertainty, the threat of businesses closing, managing childcare and education while working and lack of financial wiggle room. It’s hardly surprising that financial stress has become an increasingly concerning issue. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies that can be used to manage your financial stress — particularly as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Check Your Budget
If you’re anxious about your finances, it may be time to check your budget. Work through each line item in order to get a comprehensive view of your financial picture. It might make sense to consider how to lower your expenses, renegotiate what you’re paying or get rid of the second car that isn’t being driven.
Specifically, look at what has changed financially for you during COVID:
- Are you spending more on groceries even though you may be spending less on gas due to fewer excursions away from home?
- Does your budget now include new expenses related to working from home such as purchasing faster internet?
- Have you had to purchase electronics for your child to attend school?
- Are you saving on childcare but seem to be losing income due to having to care for your children during work hours?
Spend time examining your budget with a particular focus on identifying the new spending and saving trends that you may have experienced as a direct result of COVID. If you’re not already, make sure you’re signed up for online banking in order to better manage your budget.
A number of programs have been created recently to help you out during this time. Because the situation is constantly changing, it may be a good idea to set aside an hour a week to focus on researching and finding any new resources that can help.
Those resources could include rental assistance, job assistance, the Small Business Administration, programs created by businesses serving industries ranging from technology to hospitality. These resources may help you stabilize your business or tap into training programs that can help you grow your skills and increase your salary.
Many consumers are considering personal loans as a way to connect with financing to simplify their financial situation. In fact, a personal loan through a trusted lender could be an effective way to pay off debt, free up cash or lower monthly payments for ongoing expenses.
Speak With Your Lenders
You can also get ahead of any financial situation you’re in by calling your creditors and communicating with them. Negotiate with the goal of being transparent about your current financial situation. If you’re still in a position to do so, the priority should be paying your bills in a timely fashion. However, if you know this won’t be possible, calling is a good place to start. You’ll want to be prepared before speaking with any of your creditors. Take some time to do your research and don’t make any promises you’ll be unable to keep. One conversation could go a long way in helping alleviate some of the stress you’re feeling.
You’re Not Alone
It can often seem like you’re the only person in the world who struggles with financial stress. You’re not. Fortunately, it’s easy to find supportive communities both online and in-person to lean on. Share stories, resources and community as you work through your financial stress. Focus on taking one small action a day to manage your stress. Learn how to continue to take consistent action in your daily life in order to yield healthier finances over time.