So… this is awkward. I kind of went MIA for about 7 months. It wasn’t an intentional thing, just a “the whole world has gone crazy and I’m just trying to get by” kind of thing. Like everyone, I had no idea what 2020 had in store for us and I was knee deep in distance learning, quarantining, sanitizing all the things and trying to stay informed about all the things going on in the world without losing my sanity. So that’s what I’ve been up to these last 7 months. We are so fortunate that we haven’t been as impacted by all this as so many people have.
For almost everyone there is some form of uncertainty right now. One common question I’ve seen asked of the financial gurus right now is what does this mean for my money? What should I do with my money?
If you’re looking for investment advice, I’m not your girl. I don’t ever want to share what I don’t feel 100% confident in from my own experience. I’m sure there’s tons of resources for that if you’re willing to do some research. One thing I do feel confident in is sharing about saving.
If there’s one thing we’ve all learned from this in relation to our finances it’s the importance of savings. Who would have believed us if we told them 2020 was going to bring a total shutdown of the United States? While having a big savings account doesn’t make all of your problems go away, it certainly helps when there’s a crisis if you’re not also adding money problems to the mix.
The ideal time to start saving was years ago, but if you haven’t started or you don’t have enough, you can still start now, even in the midst of uncertainty.
Here are some ways you can increase your savings despite being in the middle of an uncertain season:
1. Sell stuff
It may be time to evaluate what you own that is a need vs. a want. This may be the time to Marie Kondo your whole house and sell what you can to add to your savings. Start with the garage. There tends to be valuable things that just sit in there so you may be able to quickly find some stuff you’ll be more than happy to get rid of and add to your savings in the process.
2. Start a side hustle
It may not need to be forever but there are a lot of side hustles available if your income has decreased that can get you by until your income can go back up again. Despite a lot of fields being hit hard right now, many businesses are seeing a big increase in sales and are needing to hire extra people. The obvious places to start would be picking up a part time job at a grocery store, delivering packages for Amazon, Instacart and GrubHub. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, though. I just read an article about how RV sales are through the roof because no one can travel outside of the country so many people are investing in an RV to travel with their families so look for businesses that may be doing a higher volume right now and need to hire more people.
3. Be flexible
Think back to your first job. Was it your dream job? Or did you have to be flexible? My first job was definitely not my lifelong dream but I did learn a lot, I had fun working there and it provided. If you’ve been let go from a job or you hours have been cut, you may not be able to get another job in the same field or your desired field so be flexible in this season. It doesn’t have to be forever but consider this a season of being flexible. If you have been let go from your job as a restaurant manager, you may be able to find work quickly, it just probably won’t look anything like what you’ve done for work previously. Be flexible.
4. Create or redo your budget
The dreaded budget. Whatever your feelings about the b word, know that creating one and sticking to it is actually a form of taking control over a situation that feels out of control. I’m not a detailed, loves spreadsheets, kind of person so this skill didn’t come naturally to me but I wanted to feel some sort of control when my financial life felt like it was out of control. If your income has changed, make sure your budget reflects that. Go through and see what “wants” you can reduce or completely remove from your budget and make sure all your “needs” are covered. If you’re still short at least you know how much of a difference you need to make up and can plan for that instead of going deeper into debt.
5. Keep the main thing the main thing
It is a confusing time right now and it’s easy to think we need to change our plan with our money but in most circumstances your main goals are still the same. Are your basic necessities taken care of? Yes? Great! Than your goals are still the same as before. If you were paying off debt before and your income hasn’t dipped, keep paying off debt. Pandemic or not you still need to get yourself out of debt. I heard people on a podcast saying they felt obligated to take their stimulus check and spend it to stimulate the economy. KEEP THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING. If you’re paying off debt it goes to that. If you’re building savings it goes to that.
Now if your income has dipped that is where redoing your budget and being flexible or taking on a side hustle comes into play. Once your new job or side hustle money starts coming in and your budget is balanced, carry on paying off debt, building savings and getting back on track to living your best financial life.
It’s understandable that there’s a lot of fear of the unknown right now but let’s not let one crisis turn into another crisis and another crisis if we are able to avoid it.
I am cheering for you in this season to be one of the ones that takes a set of uncertain circumstances and rises above it all to make it a season of financial growth.