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The last few months have been a reality check for many people navigating new ways of working and living amidst a global pandemic. During this time, individuals have been impacted in various ways. Some people lost their jobs and are facing financial uncertainty, some are dealing with illness or loss, and others are trying to support their family and loved ones. Although a challenging time, it highlights the importance of looking towards the future, planning ahead, and having a financial management plan should you face an unexpected situation.

Start with an Emergency Fund

Over the last few months with businesses forced to close, many employees lost their jobs temporarily or forever. Society at large neglects to prepare for unforeseen circumstances, meaning individuals and business owners don’t have the time to consider how to afford to live and pay employees should income be put on pause. This pandemic has given individuals a real reason to want to build an emergency fund to cover living expenses in the event of a layoff or a troubling financial situation in the future. Although business owners didn’t want to shut their doors or lay off employees, some were left without a choice due to health and safety standards. During a circumstance like this, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan that allows you to support yourself and your family for at least a few months while you have time to come up with a more concrete solution. Setting aside a small portion of money each month can go a long way in helping to provide a worst-case scenario sense of security.

Protect Your Family and Loved Ones

Another important financial consideration that you might not have taken into account depending on your age, marital status, and assets is life insurance. This type of insurance is typically purchased when an individual makes a large change or investment in their life or family. Purchasing a life insurance policy is a safeguard that protects your finances, assets, and family’s future should anything unexpected happen to you. It can help your loved ones cover a mortgage payment, business bills, and general living expenses if you pass away. Due to the health crisis sweeping the nation, purchasing a term life insurance plan might just be enough to affordably provide you with peace of mind and financial coverage. Even if you are single and do not have any children, purchasing a policy earlier on in life can allow you to lock in a lower rate when you are young, healthy, and have a low risk of serious illness.

Revamp Your Personal Budget

There will be times in your life where you have to shift your priorities and financial allocation based on a variety of factors such as your job, family, and living situation. When this happens, it’s important that you learn to shift your budget and spending as you shift your lifestyle. Whether you are opening a business or trying to grow your family—your finances will be impacted. In order to stay on top of your bills and avoid living paycheck to paycheck, revisiting and reorganizing your budget regularly is a great practice for all stages of your life.

Learning to allocate your money appropriately while learning to save where you can, is a helpful skill that will benefit you long term. Although money might not seem tight at the moment, should you take on one of the endeavors mentioned above, you will realize how your financial situation can quickly change. Set aside time to review your budget by yourself, with an advisor, or with your partner. Make this part of your financial routine each month or every couple of months to ensure you’re on track to hit your goals—even when life changes.

Contribute to Retirement

To support your long-term financial goals, it’s important that you begin contributing to your retirement as soon as possible. This could mean setting up a 401K through your employer or meeting with a wealth management advisor who can inform you of some saving and investing options that fit your situation. Based on the changes and fluctuation of the economy, you may want to take initiative and set yourself up to retire comfortably, rather than rely on the government or social security. Although it requires some small financial sacrifice now and a little discipline, you will see the impact and more down the road. If you feel like it’s too late to reach your goals, take some time to educate yourself, and find ways to boost your retirement savings at any age.

Make a Plan for Large Investments

As you get more confident with your budgeting practice, you can start to look towards the future at your five-year plan and consider some of the investments you plan to make. This might look like starting your own business, buying a new car or home, or having a baby — all of these major life events require financial planning if you don’t want to make significant sacrifices to your lifestyle.

By planning far ahead, you can find ways to cut back temporarily and increase your savings without giving up things you love, such as going out to dinner, taking a trip, or attending a social event with friends. In the same sense, learning about some of the best financial practices for a business owner can help you set yourself up to take on this financial investment. In the same sense, starting a family or buying a new home requires another set of preparations, but again, falls heavily on your ability to financially plan. When all is said and done, the last thing you want to occupy your time and energy during a major life change or investment is financial uncertainty. Being intentional about your future plans will allow you to be present during these critical times and less worried about your bank account.

Stay Consistent

Like most things in life, the more consistent you are, the better results you will see. If you commit to taking control of your finances, spending rationally, and investing in your future, there is a good chance you will be successful. Create a schedule that you can hold yourself accountable to. Keep a log of what you are doing either electronically or in a notebook. Track your progress and note areas you are falling short. If you want to take it a step further, you can consult a financial advisor who can provide some guidance when it comes to specific financial allocation and help you save for important milestones on the horizon. Don’t continue to push off your goals because of your finances — start now and see the benefits of the time you have invested in financial planning.

Your future begins today; the way that you financially plan now will have long term effects on your future for better or worse. By considering your current situation and thinking about where you see yourself in the next few years, you can better prepare for the future and protect yourself during the unexpected turns life will take you on. Remember, it all starts with your commitment to how you desire your future to turn out.