The coronavirus crisis is making massive chaos in the entire society, not only overwhelming healthcare systems but also destroying financial lives, and positively changing the way to budget. Coronavirus has changed the world as we have known it. So many unprecedented situations are happening right now from the economic perspective:
-The global economy has been shut-down for almost 2 months since the moment that I am writing this.
-Global trade has collapsed.
-The global traveling industry has been paralyzed almost completely.
-The Purchasing Managers Index or PMI has been demolished.
-Most industrial production around the globe has been shut-down.
-In America, almost 26 million people have filed unemployment benefits because they have lost their jobs. To make this number in perspective: in less than eight weeks, the same amount of jobs created in the last 12 years have been erased overnight (just like that!).
In FinanceandStoicism, I have been writing several articles about the importance of budgeting and building an emergency fund:
More than ever, budgeting is crucial for everyone, especially for those who have lost their jobs or their income has been reduced.
If you have been budgeting your finances and building emergency savings as a part of the routine in your finances, you are a fortunate individual in this coronavirus crisis. This topic requires specific discipline over a long period, and no everyone has done the homework.
As far as GOBankingRates’ most recent savings survey is concerned, only 58% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. And an estimated 50% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck before this crisis.
No matter if you have done good homework when things seem fine, or you haven’t, I am going to write a few tips that anyone could use until things could get back to “normal.”
Create a ‘Crisis Fund’ for Coronavirus Times
No matter what type of budget you create or what kind of goals do you have, all budgets have two main inherent parts: income and expenses. And no matter how much is your income regularly, what makes your net result to be positive or negative i,t depends on the size of your expenses that are subtracted from the income.
If you are the unfortunate that has lost the job in this coronavirus crisis or you have seen your income reduced because your company is not having any activity right now, you must adapt to your new budget to your new circumstances: counting all the funds from your checking account, the emergency fund that you have been building over time, and another kind of income sources that you might have such as the short-term solution of the economic stimulus package from the government.
Check out everything around your finances because maybe you have some savings, some cash, or some capital left in some account that you were keeping for some special occasion, some future trip, or some gift. Now it is time to count on anything and prioritize according to the circumstances, to create a response strategy for you and your family needs.
“No matter how much is your income regularly, what makes your net result to be positive or negative depends on the size of your expenses that are subtracted from the income.”
In previous posts, I have said that the best way to make a perfect budget is to make it simple. Simplicity is the key to progress and no only in the art of budgeting. However, under these exceptional circumstances, for many people, it is time to be detail-oriented when it comes to tracking all the spending.
If you are in a difficult financial situation right now, there are no times for past regrets about what you could have done differently with your finances and your budgeting. Now it is time to take massive action and start tracking every cent that you could spend and know where it goes. This could aspect be crucial for you and your family to survive until the storm goes away.
Prioritize Your Budget Expenses During Coronavirus
The best budgets do a little bit of the primary two ways of making a balance: ‘boost your come or cut your expenses.’
In the middle of this crisis, for many people, the part of ‘boost your income’ could be challenging right now, so focusing on cutting out all the unintentional and unnecessary expenses is a ‘must.’
One way to start could be by measuring the main fixed expenses that you regularly have, month by month:
a) Housing: This includes everything related to the place you live no matter if you are renting or you have a mortgage payment, all utilities (gas, electricity, water, internet), house insurance, etc.
This kind of fixed expenses are tough to decrease in size: you can always find a way to be more careful with the lights, the heating, having shorter showers, but again, it is complicated to make a significant impact.
b) Groceries: this includes everything that you buy in the supermarket that is essential to feed your body.
More than ever, when it comes to these fixed expenses, you should compare prices between different brands (most people overpay for products for not doing the proper research).
Also, another way to save a lot of money is to go and get groceries in bigger supermarkets such as Bj’s or Costco, which have their products with the same quality and less price (you could be saving a couple of thousands of dollars a year in your groceries basket, by buying in these places).
c) Transportation: this includes driving your car, getting on the subway, or taking the bus. If you don’t have a definite necessity for traveling, you should stay at home; you could be saving some money at the end of the month.
d) Debt paydown: if you have any debt such as credit card debt, personal loans, or student loans, you should try to pay on time if you have the chance, so it doesn’t do any damage to your credit score.
As far as the flexible expenses are concerned, you can include entertainment, dining out, clothing, unnecessary subscriptions, and memberships, or shopping. When it comes to your budget in this period of the financial crisis, you should try not to prioritize anything from the budget related to any of these categories.
Personal Care products can also be considered as a flexible expense; this category should be kept, but if you do have planned this crisis with proper emergency funds or you still have the same amount of income streams. If you do not, you should reduce the costs of these products a little bit until things get to normal.
Cutting out some of the expenses from your budget can be quite stressful or painful for some people, however, it is a necessity in times of crisis. The target is to reduce as much as possible any unnecessary expenses from your budget to keep as much of your income resources, potential savings, and from emergency funds that you might have.
In the middle of this crisis, for many people, the part of ‘boost your income’ could be really challenging right now, so focusing on cutting out all the unintentional and unnecessary expenses is a ‘must’.
Make Strategic Payments to Save Money or to Keep More Money
Even though it is not possible for you to stop spending in every single aspect during this crisis, you can always find ways to cut off some expenses and save and keep more money until things get back to “normal.”
-On the one hand, all these tips and lists of things depend on how much you and your family have been impacted by this financial crisis. If you are fortunate that your level of income hasn’t been influenced substantially, then it makes sense that you carry out with your same budget and your priorities.
-On the other hand, if you or your family have been affected dramatically, you must relax, take perspective, study every chance, plan a new strategy and act on it, and revise your current situation and your budget as many times as you need it.
Look for New Types Of Income Resources
No matter if you have lost your job and still you did a proper job budgeting and planning your emergency fund for this kind of situation, you must understand that the resources kept are not unlimited. No one knows when the lockdown of the economy will come to an end, or how it is going to be the economy when it starts opening. Because of this, you need to work hard to find new ways to have some income or to replace the income that you might have lost.
Filing for unemployment benefits is a smart thing to do, and you should do it as soon as possible, but for some people, this check could take weeks to come. The smartest thing to do is to work hard on trying to build some kind of income because your savings or emergency funds are limited. And if you are expecting some sort of stimulus check via unemployment benefits or Covid-19 Stimulus, be smart about how you spend it when it comes and how your prioritize the destination of it.
Investing in yourself via courses, training programs, or books should be one of your top priorities too.
No one can know what is going to happen next when the economy is going to be opened again, and when it does how it’s going to be. Some Institutions make forecasts that the worst is yet to come, and it will be higher than the Great Depression in the ’30s. For sure, right now, the financial economy is not reflecting the horrible situation of the real economy, but there will be a time where things will keep getting worse for sure.
No matter if things get back to normal fast, if they take longer than expected, or things will keep getting worse and worse, everything written in this article should be essential to keep in mind and to take massive action accordingly.
Investing in yourself via courses, training programs, or books, should be one of your top priorities too.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org