The Coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on our economy. A year ago we viewed the pandemic with uncertainty and fear, but now this has largely been replaced with a grim acceptance of the long road to recovery that lies ahead. As the economy comes back to life, it’s important that we focus on the financial planning we can do at home to ease our situations.
We've been granted a unique opportunity to comb through our finances with a level of attention that we can’t usually afford. Under normal circumstances, the demands of work and family keep us rushing from task to task with little free time to evaluate established expenses.
EVERYBODY’S SITUATION IS DIFFERENT
It goes without saying that some industries have been hit harder than others. Places like retail stores or restaurants require large groups of people to achieve profitability, and the cost of renting store spaces in high traffic areas is enormous. In contrast, people working in essential areas have continued to draw a regular paycheck throughout the shutdown.
RECALCULATE A MORTGAGE
Remember that even with many offices still closed, a lot can be done by the phone. Under normal circumstances, banks have a reputation for being inflexible, but in the current environment they are facing a lot of uncertainty. Mortgage rates are very low and it might be worth refinancing.
If your house has gone up considerably in value, you might be able to use it as collateral to secure some additional cash. This would allow you to pay off credit card debt, and help you achieve a much stronger financial position. You might also have the option of switching from a 15 year mortgage to a 30 year mortgage that will also result in considerable monthly savings. It’s worth checking out various options with a mortgage calculator tool to experiment with your available options.
It is always worth calling up your bank and asking what they can do for you. You might discover there is a lot more flexibility now than you might think.
It is always unnerving to do your financial planning and come to the conclusion that you don’t have enough money. It is a helpless feeling that leaves you scared and frustrated. However, it does you no good to begin to panic. Simply taking the time to go through your finances helps you take control by creating a plan of action.
A family budget planner can help guide your thinking and direct you to where you can make the expense cuts which will have the smallest impact on your life. Sometimes you can compare this data to your yearly credit card assessment and discover that you can expect significant savings in some areas in this financial year. For example, your expenses for gas and eating out in 2020 are likely to be much lower than 2019.
If you aren’t currently driving, you might want to consider suspending your car insurance. With our current level of economic uncertainty, it’s important to do what you can to save whatever you can. Even as little as a hundred dollars can make a big difference down the road.
One of the most frustrating things about the pandemic is the impact it has had on retirement planning. It is extremely frustrating to live responsibly and make regular long term investments only to watch the market tank. If you’re just starting out, this might not be a huge concern, but if you were hoping to retire in the near future it might be your primary source of stress.
For most people, the best thing you can do is shut yourself off from watching the market. Over the long term, the market always undergoes highs and lows, and you can expect it to rebound. In fact, if you are still making contributions to your retirement fund in a bear market it allows you to purchase stocks at tremendous value.
If you are nearing retirement age, the pandemic might force you to reevaluate some of your plans. Once again it is worthwhile to sit down with a worksheet or retirement calculator and see what the numbers look like. It is always better to make your decisions based on actual numbers instead of your gut reaction to what you think the market is doing.
THINGS WILL GET BACK TO NORMAL
As the pandemic continues, our fears of the virus are now balanced with our fears over growing debts. The worst part of the situation is that we all feel powerless as our money and our savings seems to evaporate into smoke. However, there is always a huge benefit for taking the time to sift through your financial planning and eliminate needless expenses. The savings you find today will have a cumulative effect as they continue to work for you even when the economy returns to normal.
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