As many of us wait out COVID-19, sheltering in place, the financial world keeps turning. Global stock markets remain open and banks are still handling transactions. Meanwhile, at home, bills still need to get paid and our money stays in motion.
So what can you do to help keep your finances on track? We believe there are several options. And while you can’t do much to change what’s happening in the rest of the world, you can take control of your finances. Here are eight smart money moves you can make right now, right from home.
Assess Your Situation
1. Get a holistic view of your money.
Have you ever seen all of your money in one place? To do this, start by making a list of all your accounts and note their balances. Make sure you include your investment and retirement accounts, too. In other words, take a full inventory of your money accounts. How much do you have in assets? And how much do you have in (deep breath now) liabilities like loans and credit cards?
2. Evaluate all your bills.
Consider taking a holistic look at your bills. Are there any really big bills coming up, like property tax? How much do you pay each month for things like your mortgage, utilities, car payments, and insurance? Total it up and compare to your income to see if there are any opportunities for savings. You can also view your upcoming regular bills on our banking tab.
Optimize and Consolidate
3. Consider a budget.
Is it time for a budget? Consider taking a look at your cash flow and find out. Are you saving enough? During times like these you might have to make extra expenditures, so consider an Emergency fund with 3-6 months of savings in it. You can use our budgeting feature to see your spending across all of your accounts over time and look for areas that you can adjust. For instance, if you’re not dining out as much right now, would it be a good idea to redirect that money to savings? (Hint: yes, it is)
4. Find places you can cut back.
Where are you paying too much? Is there anywhere you can cut back? For instance, most of us aren’t driving as much right now — could you reduce or pause your auto insurance and save a few dollars? Also make sure to pause gym memberships, yoga classes, and other unused services and subscriptions during this time.
5. Consolidate accounts if necessary.
Do you need to have so many accounts? If you’ve got an old savings account here and some old 401K’s and IRA’s there, there’s no time like now to get everything into one place and realize the potential tax benefits, lower fees and consistent investment strategy by doing so.
Make a Plan
6. Monitor your retirement outlook.
How’s your retirement outlook nowadays? Most equities have declined significantly in the face of the global pandemic, and who knows when they’ll recover. So when can you actually retire? Will you have enough to retire when you plan to? Consider our Retirement Planner which can help you answer these retirement planning questions.
7. Make sure your portfolio still aligns with your goals.
How’s your portfolio? Not all investments have moved equally during the pullback. Most have declines, while a few have actually been performing well. Now is a good time to ask: is your overall portfolio positioning still in line with your goals?
Tip: Check your allocation with the Investment Checkup tool to find out.
8. Consider professional advice.
Want a professional opinion on your portfolio? Back in February, your strategy probably made sense. But a lot has changed since them. Personal Capital offers a free, one-time consultation with a fiduciary financial advisor (meaning an advisor who’s obligated to act in your best interest.) They can give you their honest, objective feedback on your strategy, and suggest ways to improve your chances of a successful retirement.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything that’s been going on. But we hope that these steps can help you gain control over your financial life, and help you gain a little peace of mind, in the process. And if you need help along the way your Personal Capital advisor is ready to listen, and offer advice.
Disclaimer: Advisory services are offered for a fee by Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Personal Capital Corporation. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is a registered investment advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). SEC registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Investing involves risk. Past performance is not a guarantee or indicative of future returns. The value of your investment will fluctuate, and you may gain or lose money.