5 ways to deal with pandemic financial challenges
No one saw this coming, but we’re all in it together. Laws and safety measures enacted to prevent the spread of the pandemic have had a significant financial impact on the world. Small businesses worry for their futures, and families are struggling to make ends meet due to the new rules and restrictions surrounding places of business and changes in consumer behavior.
There’s no way to know how much longer we’ll be faced with these financial challenges. Making long term decisions that will contribute to your ongoing financial stability is always a wise move, and it’s more important now than ever.
1. Scale back on non-essentials
Buzzwords like “reusable”, “sustainable”, and “from scratch” are popular marketing terms. They signify that something is better. When you run your household according to those terms, you’re going to save money. Buying pre-prepared meals and disposable goods may be more convenient, but they’re also substantially more expensive than doing the work yourself or finding long term solutions.
Replace paper towels and disposable napkins with cloth alternatives. Rather than purchasing coffee from a coffee shop every morning, invest in a better coffee maker that will allow you to make your favorite cup at home. Instead of takeout, buy bulk ingredients and cook your meals. You can meal prep them for a week ahead and your food budget will stretch further.
2. Pick up some side work
When you’re short on cash, a little extra income doesn’t hurt. This is particularly true if your hours at work were scaled back and you have more extra time than you’re used to. Becoming a delivery driver or a ride share driver might be a valuable option for you.
If you have sufficient computer skills or writing skills, you can pick up a freelance side gig writing, coding, or even working as a remote receptionist. Filling the time back up will help to achieve something closer to the paycheck you’re used to receiving. Depending on the opportunities you uncover, you might even find that you make more money than you did at your regular job.
3. See what financial assistance options are available to you
If you’ve always had good credit and you’ve developed an excellent relationship with your bank, it might be time to use your good standing to your advantage. Some financial instruments might help you cover expenses during this time of increased financial strain. Since all applications involve signing documents, you need to be sure you know when you can arrange an in-person visit to go over the details and finalize your agreement.
Some banks have changed their services and their hours to reflect the pandemic. The Barclays opening times vary from location to location. The Clydesdale opening times change with every day of the week. Make sure you know ahead of time when you’ll be able to make it in – you can’t count on the bank operating according to the hours you’re used to. Get the information for the week you intend to visit and plan ahead to make sure you can be seen that day.
4. Take up some productive hobbies
You probably have a little more time on your hands than you’re used to. Your work hours may be shorter. Places you used to go and things you used to do may not be an option during the pandemic, or you might choose to avoid them for safety purposes. Taking up some productive hobbies can help save you money.
Free online courses and tutorials can teach you to do many of the things you would ordinarily pay someone else to do. If you focus your free time on learning, you can perfect the art of doing your own manicures, giving yourself haircuts, repairing plumbing, cooking gourmet meals, and changing your own tires. You’ll learn valuable skills with your newfound free time, and you’ll save all the money you would have spent outsourcing these tasks to someone else.
5. Use that emergency fund
Those who are financially savvy understand the importance of having an emergency savings fund. It’s invisible money. You know it’s there, but you can’t see it in your day to day life. A global pandemic would qualify as a financial emergency. If you need to dip into your emergency fund to keep your family or your business afloat during these challenging times, don’t feel guilty. This is the whole reason why you have that fund in the first place.
This too shall pass, although we’re not quite sure when. This pandemic has given us an important lesson in financial planning and priorities. After the curve has dropped and our lives go back to normal, many of us might want to adopt better financial habits to minimize the strain that these unpredictable events can cause for so many of us. Be patient, be smart, and be proactive.
Story by Anne Bowman