Since the pandemic, many of us transitioned into a new job, bought a new home, turned a hobby into a full-time job or were otherwise forced to pivot in some way — including in how we approach our money. Now that your priorities have changed, it’s important to have a financial plan that matches up with your new reality. We’ve got the path to make that happen.
“After about a year into the pandemic, people started prioritizing their happiness. People were quitting their jobs. There was an influx of people starting new businesses. People had a newfound desire to create their own income and schedule,” says Raya Reaves, Finance Coach and Founder of City Girl Savings.
A 2021 New York Life survey found that 46% of Americans said that the pandemic had played a role in their financial planning for the upcoming year — and many of those said that they’d begun to think more about their short-term financial goals versus their long-term goals. And a top priority for the majority of people was saving more money.
“People are more interested in saving money because they’re nervous, which is understandable. People are realizing that ‘stuff doesn’t matter’ and are getting away from frivolous spending,” says Mark Stewart, a CPA for Step By Step Business.
But of course as your attitudes and priorities surrounding money shift, your spending needs to shift to match your new reality as well. Here are 5 tips to help people get back on track financially and make sure you’re on the right track for life post-pandemic.
Find Out Your Money Type
One of the first things you can do to determine where you’re at financially is to take HerMoney’s Money Type personality test, which will reveal your money personality, and can help you determine what your financial strengths and weaknesses are. From there, you should be able to gain a better sense of your emotions (and motivations!) behind your spending and saving and patterns. Knowing these details can be a huge help when you’re developing a new financial plan.
Get Everything In Order
Once you’ve got your MoneyType in place, you’ll want to set your budget. You’ll need to have a plan that accounts for all of your financial activity so you know exactly what you can spend, when you’re able to spend it, and what you’ll need to save and invest every month to make sure you’re on track for your bigger goals.
“Having a plan that outlines what money is coming in, what money is going out and what money is left over can bring an enormous sense of knowledge and security,” says Reaves.
You also want to have a clear idea of what your financial priorities are, and understand what’s going to be required of your weekly and monthly budget to get there. “Knowing that there isn’t enough money coming in to support the changes a person needs for their budget can really help them figure out what needs to happen next. Do they cut back their spending? Or, do they focus on bringing in more money?” says Reaves.
Make a realistic budget that accounts for both your daily and monthly needs but also one that will allow you to stay on track with your goals. Reaves says some questions to consider are: What are you working towards? And where do you want to be financially in the next 2-3 years? Once you’re clear on those things, then keeping your goals front and center makes it easier to work towards them. “It also makes it easier to say “no” to things that don’t help you reach those goals.”
Have an Emergency Fund
The pandemic has made people more aware of the importance of preparing for the unpredictable. If you depleted your savings during COVID, that’s okay — it’s never too late to get back on track. Reaves suggests having a dedicated savings account for just emergencies so you’re never tempted to spend that money elsewhere. An emergency can be a pandemic or a job loss, yes, but it can also be a medical crisis, the need to book a flight to visit a sick loved one, and so much more. Simply having that money on hand for when you need it can be a huge load off your mind.
You have to start somewhere, so start by saving up one month of expenses. From there you’ll want to work your way up to saving 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses.
Transition Doesn’t Have To Be Scary
Everyone went through an adjustment period during the pandemic, and there may have been some big changes for you over the last two years — not all of them good. But don’t take your eyes off the long-term prize. “Don’t spend money that you don’t need to spend, and keep investing for the long term,” Stewart says. “Proceed with caution, not fear, and keep your financial mentality focused on long-term strategies.”
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