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The coronavirus COVID-19) pandemic has affected countries around the world, not only by infecting millions of people but also by bringing economic activities to a standstill.

Numerous countries imposed lockdowns and other restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. These measures include online or remote learning for students and advising businesses to close shop temporarily or enforce work-from-home arrangements with their employees, among others.

The standstill resulted in a lot of people facing job insecurities or, worse, job loss. In addition, there is a rising concern when it comes to people’s own finances.

For months now, economies have turned bleak as the pandemic continues to affect our daily lives. Stock markets have plummeted, including those of developed countries. And unless a cure or a vaccine is developed soon, it is reported that current economic conditions will continue until the following year.

Money and its place during a pandemic

Before it became the plastic cards, paper, coins, and digital currencies we know, the evolution of money can be traced back to bartered goods and services. But bartering took a lot of negotiation and haggling before the two parties could agree on the same value.

It would be years before coins were invented as a medium for purchasing goods and services. But this too also proved a problem as coins in large amounts were too heavy to carry, thus the invention of paper currency and then digital currency.

Indeed, money is vital to survive in this day and age. With an uncertain future presented by the pandemic, it is best to be financially smart during, as it can make all the difference should another unfortunate event happen. Here are some ways how you can be smart when it comes to your money.

Do not panic sell investments

The stock market has dropped significantly due to the ongoing pandemic. While it is sad and scary to see your stocks and stock-based investments decline, keeping them will pay off in the end. Remember that the pandemic is just a setback. Eventually, everything will bounce back once the economy becomes vibrant again.

Set up an emergency plan and fund

Talk to your friends and families and come up with a contingency plan should anything untoward happen.

Set aside an emergency fund for medical emergencies or any unforeseen situations. Experts suggest at least saving three to six months’ worth of expenses. Having an emergency fund will give you some peace of mind during uncertain times, such as now.

Keep cash on hand

In relation to having an emergency fund, have some money on hand, too. Do not rely solely on e-money or credit cards to get you through the pandemic. In case of another government-imposed lockdown, it is better to have cash on hand should banks close or if some stores do not accept credit and debit cards as payment.

Take advantage of low-interest rates

Real estate prices have gone down during the pandemic, including interest rates. Financial and property experts say that this is the right time to invest in properties. Consider investing in real estate and renting this out later on for additional income.

Another thing you could do is to refinance your mortgage. This can lower your monthly payment and help build equity faster by putting more of your mortgage towards your principal balance. Shop around for lenders that offer rates and payment schemes that are more suitable to your financial standing.

Cut down on some expenses

To bolster your emergency fund, cut down on some of your purchases, especially those that may be deemed unnecessary. Since many are working from home anyway, cut down on the shopping for clothes, makeup, and shoes or ordering takeout.

In addition, consider finding alternative (or cheaper) brands to your favorite snacks and drinks or keep grocery shopping simple. Plan out your meals and make a list of the ingredients you’ll need. Avoid impulse buys.

Another thing you can do is to call your telecom provider. If you are working from home, and most of your communication with colleagues or clients are done via video calls and emails instead of phone calls and text messaging, you can opt for a cheaper data plan.

Cancel monthly subscriptions and memberships

Check your credit card statements for recurring charges. It could be for subscriptions such as streaming services, food boxes, iCloud storage, beauty or grooming boxes, clothing, and so on. Do you use any of these daily?

Remember, you’re just canceling them now for some much-needed cash. In the long run, maybe you will realize that you don’t really need any of these.

When it comes to gym memberships and social clubs, analyze their worth by the number of times you go to them, especially now with social distancing still in place. If you can only count a handful of times, then consider giving these up.

Live minimally

Use the time you have at home to clear out the things you haven’t or don’t use. Once you have determined which items to get rid of, consider selling them online or donating to charitable institutions or non-government organizations.

If you love luxury investments that pay off, such as artwork, branded items, and jewelry, consider selling some for an investment return. Fine art pieces have a market value that continually rises. Designer bags, especially limited edition ones, also increase in value over time.

Collectors are willing to pay a pretty penny to get their hands on one, so make sure to take good care of them. Fine jewelry and luxury watches also double in value as they age; diamonds, for example, appreciate in value to inflation and the evolving market tastes. What’s more, these can withstand financial downturns. You can also pawn them, instead.

Have a side gig

If you have the time or can take on an additional workload, you can start a small business or do online jobs such as tutoring, consulting, or content writing. There are many online job platforms to find job opportunities — you can even find a few on social media. Having a sideline can boost your income and emergency fund.

Pay in installment

If you must buy a big-ticket item, such as a laptop, pay it in installment rather than full. One of the advantages of buying in installment is that it gives you the flexibility to budget and manage your money easily. It also allows you to afford things that you otherwise could not. Do your research to know which stores offer the best pricing and payment terms.

Get your finances straight. More importantly, though, do not panic. This year has been stressful and left us with a lot of anxieties, but by making smart decisions when it comes to money, you will get through it. Do not wait for another crisis before you start making smart financial decisions.