I hope all of you are staying healthy. I also hope you are not in serious financial difficulties. But I know on either count, some of you are struggling. I can’t help much with the health aspect, but I can give you some awareness on the financial side.
The effects of the pandemic on your financial life may be significant – either now or in the future. Here are two constructive exercises you can accomplish while in the throws of quarantine-induced cabin fever.
Review Your Expenses
Complete a thorough review of your expenses. And I mean thorough. As in you downloading transactions from your bank and credit cards, categorizing them and totaling them up by category (read details of this process here). This allows you to see how much you spend in each category by month, six months, or year. If your spending habits have changed since the quarantine, be sure to compare pre-quarantine vs. your current situation. Better yet use services like Mint.com to help with this exercise.
This is the first step in adjusting your finances to significant changes. Maybe you need to make changes now or maybe not. But at least you’re armed with cold, indifferent numbers to make informed decisions about your spending.
See This as an Opportunity for Change
If you’ve had an upheaval in your income, look at this as an opportunity to evaluate and change your status quo. Start asking yourself bigger, forward-looking questions.
- Do I want to make a career change?
- Do I want to become self-employed or start a business?
- Are there other ventures I can start to generate income?
- Is now the right time to do that? If not, what conditions need to be in place for me to make that change?
- What step(s) can I take now to make this happen in the future?
When you go through this exercise, write it down. Write. It. Down. We think our brains are great at formulating and tracking long-term plans. They’re not. Use paper and pencil. Or a new-fangled computer or tablet or phone. Just put it in print. I used an entire paragraph to make this point. I think it’s important.
The common thread between these two exercises is to keep anxiety or self-pity from overwhelming you. These states of mind can lead to indecision, or poor decisions, which I’ll say are generally bad. Instead, these exercises can give you actionable information to move forward in a crisis.