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Even as America works to reopen amidst the continuing Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, Americans are still trying to figure out their new financial situations.
Most Americans have either already started reviewing and adjusting their financial plans for now and the future, or are planning to.
We put together six pieces of advice everyone should consider when putting their new plan into effect, whether they’re just starting or already have it all figured out.
Yes, that can sometimes be easier said than done. Especially for those millions of Americans currently dealing with unemployment and financial hardship. But it’s important to not allow the pandemic to cause us to take drastic action.
Financial experts advise everyone to navigate these stressful times with the understanding that it will pass and that an economic rebound will happen.
The first step in any attempt to change financial habits is to look at where your money is going. Outside of the obvious necessities - food, rent, bills, transportation - where are other places to cut back?
Taking some time to know where you’re money is going is a good way to come to some necessary realizations about spending habits you don’t even realize you have, like eating out more than you think.
Look for places where you’re spending money on things you’re not actually using, especially subscriptions. Also, look for extra expenditures that don’t bring you joy or improve your life.
It might seem like a good idea to open a credit card or take out a loan to get through these difficult times. However, with the uncertainty around when things could pick back up financially, you could actually make things worse down the line.
Loans and credit cards include interest, which means you’ll have to pay more in the long run. The first thing should always be to look for ways to cut back spending. Then, we would suggest visiting Grantspace.org’s list of financial emergency resources.
Don’t rush to pull or move money around in your portfolio out of fear. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a major dip in the market and won’t be the last time.
That said, if you have money to invest, go for it. It’s a great time to talk to your financial advisor about your strategy moving forward.
There are two trains of thought here:
For those who have been laid off or saw a reduction in working hours because of the pandemic, the best place to put your money is toward meeting basic needs. That includes food, healthcare, living expenses, and transportation.
For those who are still receiving a steady paycheck, it may make more sense to put extra money toward paying down debt -- especially any high-interest debts -- or building an emergency fund.
Speaking of an emergency fund, around 25% of U.S. adults have no emergency savings at all.
Whether another spike in COVID-19 happens, another situation similar to the pandemic occurs, or just life in general, everyone is recommended to have six to 12 months worth of expenses in a savings account in case of an emergency.
We suggest setting up a new savings account specifically for your emergency fund, and finding one with a high interest return. In theory this account shouldn’t see much activity outside of cash going into it. You might as well try and have that money earn as much as possible while it sits.
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