Even in the best of times, keeping a close track of money and managing it properly is a daunting challenge for many people. The sudden onset of the Corona virus disease and the sustained period of financial uncertainty along with the restrictions on social mobility will bring about new challenges in money management.
When we emerge on the other side of the crisis, we will be faced with a hugely different economic climate than a few months ago.
At a time where physical and mental health and well-being is and should be top priority, it is useful to also consider the impact of this forced lockdown on your personal finances.
The current weakness seen in the economy is not a structural problem like the 2008 financial crisis. In that sense, the biggest problem that you are likely to face is one of cash flow management. i.e. making sure you have the money to go through the next six to nine months without borrowing money on unreasonable terms or living a severely deteriorated lifestyle.
Most governments have stepped in with liberal economic support policies that will probably protect your employers from going broke and to enable them to keep you in your job.
Having said that, the impact to your personal cash flow should not be ignored.
At Fintify, we discussed a few areas of concern with users on how they can ride the wave of uncertainty over the immediate foreseeable future.
If you are worried about the likely impact of the Coronavirus lock-down on your financial health, here are a few tips to help you.
Cash in Hand:
Although you may not see an issue with your job or income, it is advisable to start watching your expenses and other cash leakages. Make sure you switch off any unnecessary subscriptions, plug all bank surcharges and late fees and set a regimented budget on expenses such as eating out, cab rides and ordering in frequently.
The past period of social distancing may have helped you break some expensive (albeit fun, no doubt) social habits and it should be easier to continue that routine until you are comfortable with your finances again.
Remember, you cannot predict the extent of the economic fallout that COVID will leave in its wake and it is best to be prepared for the worst.
With the exception of gold and select debt funds, almost all investments made in stocks, equity based funds and real estate will have seen a massive reduction in value.
If your investment horizon is more than three years and you don’t need the money for short-term emergency expenses, it is a good idea to hold onto those investments and even invest some more if you have spare cash sloshing around.
Make sure though that you move a small part of the investments into highly liquid assets that can be used on a rainy day.
We suggest you consult an investment advisor before making any new investment decisions. Now everyone needs personalized investment guidance, as the earlier model of ‘one size fits all’ generic online advice doesn’t seem suitable anymore.
Loans and Debt Repayments:
If you are facing a debt repayment crisis, then you should reach out to help groups that can provide advise on your specific situation. In the U.K. you could reach out to U.K Debt Helpline or the Citizens Advice website
Do not take on more expensive loans to pay off existing ones. This is a typical debt trap and will be very difficult to get out of. Your immediate steps should be to cut down ALL non-essential expenses including the occasional coffee and /or drinks. This may sound brutal right now but remember this period of abstinence wont last forever and you will emerge from it with less financial concerns.
If you are renting, write to your landlord requesting a reduced or deferred monthly rental payment.
For most people, the last few months have been a bolt out of the blue.
If there is one thing that we have learnt in the last few months it is that contingencies are a real thing and that better planning all along will mean less sleepless nights when things start going pear shaped.
Make money management a regular part of your daily life. It will stand you in good stead, now and more than ever, over the next few months.
Know your money.