Because of the pandemic, our lives have totally changed. How we work, how our children go to school, how we shop, work out, eat a meal: all of this looks wildly different now post-COVID.
Your finances probably look different, too. Over 40% of Americans believe that COVID-19 would highly impact their financial situation in the coming months, and we’re willing to bet that percent will only increase.
If your finances and family life have been impacted, you might be wondering how you can manage those changes. Here are some tips below.
Assess how your needs may have changed
Maybe you’ve had to spend more on extra child care while you continue to work from home and your kids continue distance learning. Or, you may have had to buy a new laptop or computer monitors to upgrade your home office gear. You may be spending much less on expenses like dining out, but you may be spending more for grocery delivery.
Some of these changes may have heavily impacted your budget… or they may not have impacted it as much as you thought they would. This is the time to check in on your budget and really see what’s going on. You might compare your monthly budget numbers from the same month in 2019 to this year’s numbers to see how things have changed. This will also show you how much money you have left each month “post-COVID.”
Reevaluate your finances
Now that you’ve pointed out the changes to your budget, you can make adjustments according to your needs. Where has your spending decreased? You may notice you’ve spent less in budget categories like transportation, entertainment, and personal stuff like haircuts and gym memberships.
Where do you need more wiggle room in your budget? With more time spent at home, maybe your water and energy bills have increased. Or you’ve had to spend more on education for your kids’ virtual learning setup. Prioritize your bills, track your spending, and allocate expenses to what’s important right now.
We’re finding that many people have found positive financial changes from the pandemic, and this is a great time to focus on those.
If you’ve always wanted to cook more of your own meals, work out at home instead of the gym, or cut down on buying fast fashion, maybe the pandemic has unexpectedly changed your habits for the better. Consider which of these changes you’d like to keep as we return to “normal.”
Look at getting financial help
Was your work impacted by the pandemic? It’s not easy dealing with a job loss or working reduced hours, but know that you’re not alone. In April 2020, nearly one-third of adults reported that they were struggling to pay regular expenses because of COVID-19. Luckily, there are ways you can get financial help.
If you’re having trouble paying your bills or loans, or you need a little extra time to pay, reach out to your bank or companies first. Explain your situation and discuss payment options with your lenders. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a helpful guide on what to say when contacting lenders for help.
Here are a few extra resources:
- Guidance and loan resources for small businesses
- Help for military personnel and their families
- Financial tips for older adults and caregivers
- Our blog post on what to do if you’ve lost your job
- Our blog post about simple tips to make saving easier
If you’d like more (free) financial help, we have an entire library of resources. Access all our free resources, including the Budget Planner, Values Exercise, Balance Sheet, and more!