How to Keep Your Finances Simple During The Covid-19 Pandemic
Read time: 3-5 minutes
New York State is still “on pause” until May 15th, 2020 and it has caused some of the biggest market impacts we’ve ever seen. If you’re like millions of Americans, your finances have either taken a hit and/or your future finances have been affected somehow.
With a “new normal” and a recovery, albeit a slow one, to the economy hopefully on the horizon, now is the time to get your finances in check, adjust to the losses and perhaps, for the first time, simplify some of your financial tasks to keep your sanity.
Here are some simple steps you can implement today to help manage your finances through the rest of this pandemic a little simpler and hopefully, a little less stressful.
Keep putting money into your retirement accounts if possible
Yes - 401K’s got slammed at the beginning of this crisis. However, the age-old investing wisdom rings truer now; buy low and sell high.
The financial crisis of 2008 was awful, but it eventually ended. Those who played “the long game” and kept their eyes on the future understood that it would be over and controlled their emotional impulse to sell low.
As we’ve said before, understanding your emotions in a highly volatile market, and subsequently not letting them impact your decisions negatively, is extremely important.
If you can afford to, keep investing money into your retirement accounts. This crisis, too, shall end, and you want to prevent your short-term concerns from morphing into a long-term problem.
Pay bills online when you can
This might seem like a no-brainer, but many people still feel more comfortable paying their bills at the bank, the company location itself or at the post office. Limit your exposure to catching the virus (and save lots of time) by moving as many of your bills to online payment.
A step up from paying online would be to automate them as well. You likely have enough on your mind right now, balancing work and possibly children at home all the time. The last thing you want to do is accidently get a hit to your credit score because of a missed payment.
If you must pay in person, try not to use cash
Money is actually filthy and thankfully, many vendors who are still open have opted to go the touchless payment route. You can sign up to use “digital wallet apps” like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Venmo and many vendors are now implementing the “tap” feature for credit and debit cards.
If you have cash, deposit it into your bank first (if you have the time and, of course, use sanitizer before and after you have to press any buttons on anything) so you can use your card when necessary.
If this still isn’t an option, there’s always writing a check. Less dirty than handling cash money, but still requires transferring something to another person.
Speaking of checks - if you’re getting paid with one, see if your bank has a mobile deposit option. Again, it keeps you home and it’s super simple. Just grab your bank's mobile app, log into it as you would your online banking, take a picture of the front and back of the check (make sure to endorse it) and bam, touch-free deposit from home.
Time to shop around for a better deal
When it comes to your utilities (like phone, internet, etc.) there’s no better time than the present to negotiate a better deal with your current provider, or shop around for a better one. Your usage has probably changed drastically if you’re working from home.
Do you have a big data plan on your cell phone? You probably don’t need it now and that could save you a lot of money, depending on your provider. You can use your internet at home for those calls, instead (Skype, Zoom, Join.Me, etc).
This applies to car insurance, too, especially since you’re probably driving much less but still paying a premium as if you’re doing your regular commute!
If you have extra money…
If you’re fortunate enough to have extra money, whether from the stimulus money coming to millions of Americans, or you’re able to keep working normally, consider building up an emergency fund if you don’t already have one.
We suggest 6 months of regular expenses in a “rainy day” account.
If you haven’t received your stimulus money yet…
The IRS has created a tool for you to check the status of your Economic Impact Payment (stimulus funds) called “Get My Payment”. You’ll need your social security number, address, date of birth and possibly information from your tax return. Click here to use their tool.
Their site is full of helpful information surrounding the EIP.