As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the globe, individuals are adjusting to new lifestyles in an effort to curb the spread. While social distancing is a way of life in the near term, creating new routines to remain physically and psychologically healthy are just a few of the actions we should take as well.
Just about every aspect of our lives has been altered by the pandemic, including the American economy. While we cannot control the fact that businesses are temporarily closed and market volatility is at all time highs, we can control our personal finances - by adjusting spending or simply being more intentional about our spending during these uncertain times.
So, how should you mange your money during this pandemic and economic uncertainty? Here are five tips:
Tip #1: Remain Objective & Focus on Your Personal Economy
With the daily fluctuations in the market, it can feel tempting to take action in order to “protect” your money by selling stocks or switching to different investments. However, if this was a decision made under stress while the market was falling, it is most likely ill advised. there is one fact that remains constant with regard to the market, it’s this: the market will go up, and it will go down. Remembering that your investment plan was setup to fulfill long-term goals, not short-term gains, can be helpful to avoid succumbing to an emotionally driven investment decision. It is good to have your plan figured out before hand which may mean buying or selling at different levels in the market.
However, in the heat of the moment while you’re feeling anxious and sweaty, that is not the time to make those decisions. It’s always a good idea to chat with your financial advisor to make sure any decisions are in line with your ultimate long-term well-being.
Rather than focusing on the market at large — and on factors that we cannot control — try shifting your mindset to your own personal economy. This can include components of your financial life such as your budget and your savings, which we’ll discuss more below.
Tip #2: Review Your Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is intended to help during times of unexpected circumstance, such as the loss of a job, a leaky roof, or an accident to name a few. These savings can assist in both small and large unplanned expenses that come up and are not part of your usual bills and spending.1
Whether or not you are currently confronting a dire financial situation as many of us are due to COVID-19, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the right amount saved, or finally start building that robust fund you always wanted or needed.
In the context of a global pandemic, the risk of the unexpected is higher than usual. Making sure you and your family would have enough in case of an emergency is one way to stay proactive and prepared.
Shift your mindset to your own personal economy
Tip #3: Be Aware of Scams
Many scammers are attempting to capitalize on fears arising as a result of the coronavirus. Scams include vaccination offers, home test kits and other products to treat or prevent the virus. Other scams capitalize on the fact that so many individuals are now working from home, and try to push remote work schemes.2
Sophisticated scammers can disguise as notable organizations, such as the World Health Organization, in an attempt to steal money or sensitive information.3 These various scams can come from robocalls or online offers. The Federal Trade Commission suggests hanging up on robocalls, ignoring online attempts and fact-checking before sharing information related to COVID-19. 2
Tip #4: Review Your Budget
If your income remains steady, consider reviewing your budget, cutting unnecessary costs and taking advantage of extra money left over each month. The lack of restaurants, bars and stores to visit or really any social activities to take part in, most likely means you will have "extra" disposable income.
You may consider using these funds to increase contributions to a retirement account or add to your emergency fund. Additionally, if you have the means, consider donating to organizations such as food banks or groups supporting hospitals and health facilities.
Tip #5: Stay Informed Regarding Available Resources
In response to COVID-19, governments are passing packages to support families, individuals and businesses. In the United States, the CARES Act includes the following:
- Extended unemployment benefits
- Healthcare aid
- One-time stimulus checks for individuals with adjusted gross incomes up to $75,000 (single), $150,000 (joint), or $112,500 (heads of household).4
In Canada, the economic response plan includes multiple checks for qualifying individuals, a zero interest rate for federal student loans and an extended tax filing deadline of July 15, which the United States is offering as well.5 In the case that you or someone you know qualifies for or is in need of assistance, stay up-to-date by reviewing your government’s official resources for information.
As we collectively confront this global emergency, you can take steps to remain both physically healthy and financially prepared. If you have concerns about investments, building an emergency fund or government resources, you can reach out to us by using the link below, one of our advisors can help you to better understand your options and benefits.
|About the Author|
James M. Comblo , CFF
is a Partner and the Chief Compliance Officer at FSC Wealth Advisors. His greatest passion in the financial services industry is helping clients accomplish their dreams both with investments and their personal lives. To learn more about him click here.
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