Money management during the current crisis is a topic that most people feel overwhelmed by. If you’re struggling to pay your bills as it is, discussing budgeting and saving might be a sore subject for you. However, there are still plenty of steps you can take to feel in control of your finances once again. Try using the five money management tips below the next time you find yourself feeling burdened or overwhelmed by your expenses.
It’s hard to have a clear understanding of where all of your money is going if you haven’t properly organized your expenses. There are numerous online budgeting tools and spreadsheets for you to fill out in order to stay informed and up to date on your payments. If you find that you often forget certain bills, or are shocked each month when everything ends up being due at once, it may be in your best interest to set up automatic payments or payment alerts for specific days. Get in contact with your mortgage lender, insurance company, and even your television subscription providers to ask if you can switch the date your payment is due in order to evenly distribute your bills throughout the month.
The next step in better managing your finances is taking the time to prioritize. Make a list of all of the places your money ends up going each month, and rank these categories from necessities to luxuries. For individuals who are finding that a lot of their money is going to things they want as opposed to things they need, it’s time to place higher priority on what’s important. Whether this means switching to store brand over name brand groceries or dedicating some funds to paying off your credit card bill in the coming months, now is the time to make some changes. If you’re someone who is dedicating most, if not all, of your monthly income to only necessary payments, it may be time to ask your providers for help or even research ways to make your expenses more manageable. There are plenty of relief options being offered during this time, so don’t shy away from asking about them.
If you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner who is struggling, try reevaluating your process to make sure you’re working smarter, not harder, in order to get a better handle on your finances. Business owners should consider forgoing their office space completely in order to save during this time and in the future, while freelancers should start looking into developing a side hustle. Beyond this, look for other ways to cut costs such as canceling office parking subscriptions and any other in-person costs you might not currently be using. Identify your talents and research how to make money with them on your own. Whether you do some freelance writing or open your own Etsy shop, having a smaller way to generate income on the side can go a long way.
Keep Track of Debt
It’s easy to turn to your credit card when times start to get tough financially. However, racking up debt during the pandemic will only hurt you more in the long run. Stay up to date with your credit score and be sure you’re still dedicating even a small amount of money each month to pay off your outstanding balances. Whether you utilize Turbo tax or a budgeting app like Mint, it’s vital for you to stay informed on where you stand in order to reach any future goals you may have. It’s always a good idea to keep track of how your current loan payments are affecting you as well. There may be some expenses you’re saving on due to forbearance options during this time or due to government regulations. For example, the deferment of student loans at zero interest has been a huge help to those who were struggling to keep up with such payments. If you’re a homeowner, you may have other payments on top of your mortgage that you’re concerned about such as home equity or personal loans. Taking the time to revisit these payments is well worth it if you’re finding yourself feeling overwhelmed. Educate yourself on how your home equity loan works and if there are ways to defer your current payments should you not be able to keep up with them. Staying on top of the many ways you can receive help in order to manage your debt and keep up with your credit score will do wonders for your bank account and for your stress levels.
Make it Fun
Look for ways to make reaching your financial goals a game, as opposed to a chore. Set small rewards for yourself when you reach a specific savings amount and try to make sure your mindset is always in the right place. Whether you live with family or a roommate, try starting a savings competition to make things more interesting if you lack motivation. Or, simply work to change your mindset. If you’ve set savings goals in the past that haven’t excited you, it’s probably time to switch things up. Identify a goal you know will motivate you instead of one that feels required or boring. Even financial goals that aren’t as exciting can become motivating if you have the right mindset in place from the start. For individuals who don’t know where to start when it comes to reaching their goals, try researching online savings challenges. There are plenty of challenges you can take advantage of to peak your interest should you lack the motivation to make a change. Since there still isn’t too much to do during the current crisis, there is no time like the present to take on a financial challenge for the fun of it.
Tackling the topic of money management during these uncertain times is not an easy task, so be sure you’re doing the proper research and putting in the work to make any necessary changes. As you organize, prioritize, and realign your focus, don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. Thousands of individuals are currently experiencing financial hardship, so remember that you aren’t alone and always strive to work smarter, not harder.