Personal Finance: Making it Through Challenging Times

April 9, 2020

In my 58 years here on this earth, I’ve certainly never experienced times like we are now in.  Calling today’s environment challenging is probably an understatement.  In times like these it is important to stay positive and make sure you are taking care of yourself both personally & professionally.  Let’s talk about personally this week.  Next week we’ll talk about professionally.

If you are a spiritual person, it is important to connect with your spirituality source.  This will look different for each person.  For some, the connection may just be a re-enforcement to the foundation you already have, for some, it may be a wakeup call to get back to what you once had, for others, this crisis may have caused your to re-evaluate your need for spirituality and cause a life changing awakening.

Social distancing does not mean social isolation.  If you are sheltering in place with your family, use this time to take advantage in our usually hectic schedule.  Spend quality time with your wife & kids.  Eat & prepare meals together.  I know I have spent time with my 12 year old daughter teaching her to cook.  Also make time for family activities like board games, cards, or movie night. 

Reach out to friends & family via social media, text, or a phone call, especially those who live alone.  Many of those who live alone may be prone to depression or just plain loneliness.   You never know how the simple act of just reaching out to those people may help those people.  Look for opportunities to help others.   Within each of us is the desire to help others.  By helping others, you help yourself too.

Lastly, let’s talk about finances.   This is the area that undoubtedly will cause the most stress in some people’s lives.  Hopefully, you have an emergency fund.  Guess what, the emergency is here, don’t hesitate to access it to pay bills if you need to.   If you don’t have an emergency fund, you’ll just have to get through it the best you can.  If nothing else, maybe this situation will lead you to be better prepared for the next crisis.  If you find yourself in a dire financial situation, try not to panic.  Additional stress & worry will not alleviate your situation. 

There is a lot of help those suddenly unemployed.  If you don’t qualify for assistance, talk to your landlord/mortgage holder to seek help from them.  Always prioritize the bills you pay in times like these.  #1 is food; spend wisely but make sure your family has enough to eat.  #2 is shelter; as mentioned above, if money is really tight, seek guidance from your landlord/mortgage holder.  Shelter also includes paying your utilities.  #3 is transportation; while not as important in this shelter in place times, you’ll need transportation. 

If you have car payments, you may have to evaluate if you can still afford them.  If you have two cars, severe financial crisis may force letting one go.  In that situation, keep the one that is paid for or the one that has the lowest loan balance.  Also, same as mentioned above, it would be worth a call to the lean holder of your car(s) to see if they will let you delay a couple of months.   If money is tight, other bills (credit cards, student loans, personal loans) will have to wait.  Just tell them you don’t have the money and don’t succumb to their pressure.

As I wrap up this post, I just wanted to encourage you all to try and maintain a positive attitude and make the best of this situation.  As I mentioned above, worry will not make the situation any better.  Next post, I’ll talk about making it through these times from a professional standpoint.