Managing your finances isn’t easy. Managing your finances during a global pandemic is even harder.
More than ever, I’m getting questions about how I’m managing my own money (as someone who writes and speaks about money for a living). I’m lucky that my income hasn’t taken a huge dip, but I’m definitely not immune to feeling anxious and scared right now like the majority of citizens.
I’m an amateur personal finance geek.
Your tools have helped me become a smarter investor.
Personal Capital Dashboard User, February 2021
Here are a few ways I’ve changed my financial situation during this pandemic that may suit you and your current financial situation.
1. Focusing on building savings
I understand the importance of investing and compound interest. It’s important to continue investing if you have the means to, even when the market is turbulent.
However, because we’re living in unprecedented times, I’m personally prioritizing building savings. Normally, I invest around 20% to 30% of my income. But right now, I’m investing about 10% for long-term goals like retirement. I want to continue to invest, but I also want to make sure I have a little bit of a cash cushion — in case something unexpected should happen that might disrupt my cash flow, having cash on hand will allow me to access my money more easily should I need it.
Because my current portfolio is valued at over $95,000 — and due to my current age of 25 years old — I feel more comfortable taking my foot off the gas just a little bit while things are uncertain. I’ve already maxed my Roth IRA and HSA for this year (almost $10,000) so I feel secure in my decision to invest a little less than I normally would and continue to build my savings for unexpected expenses that may arise.
2. Spending money on take-out/delivery, and supporting local business
I hardly ever get food delivered, but during quarantine, I’m finding myself doing it at least once a week. Not only does it break up the monotony of cooking, it’s also a great way for me to support local businesses and restaurants. Because I can’t go out to eat like I normally would, this is a great compromise — I’m still saving money while supporting the local economy.
It’s also extremely convenient and weirdly comforting to have food delivered to your door or already made when you pick it up. I live alone, so it’s nice when someone else is cooking for me! It’s something I look forward to, in a time where there’s very few “future things” that are certain.
3. Building a larger emergency fund
Before quarantine started, I had a cash emergency fund of about 6 months’ of living expenses. Because I’m now a full-time business owner, I have to consider how a financial emergency could impact not only my personal finances but also my business.
After paying off my last piece of debt in February of this year, I don’t have to worry about paying anything off. The 20% that I would normally invest has now been cut in half, and I’m funneling 10% to my emergency fund. Now, I feel more comfortable knowing that I have 10-12 months saved in case I need it. It is often advertised to have at least 3-6 months of expenses saved up in an emergency fund, but it may not be a bad idea to hold a bit more during the uncertain times that we are currently experiencing.
4. Buying comfort
It is my opinion there’s nothing wrong with retail therapy. I’m going to say this again: there’s nothing wrong with retail therapy. Especially in an unprecedented global pandemic — when just trying to exist as a person can be stressful — don’t blame yourself for online shopping.
There are ways to make your online shopping experience less expensive, however. Make sure you’re using free browser extensions to get cash back on your purchases. And if you’re a responsible credit card holder that pays off balances every month, you could put your purchases on your card in order to accumulate points or miles.
If you find yourself online shopping too much, focus on asking yourself a few key questions before you make a purchase. “Am I buying this out of routine or boredom?” and “Is this purchase worth it?” can both help put your spending into perspective.
5. Giving more
I have so much gratitude for being in the financial situation I am currently in. Just like how some people are currently feeling, I feel a responsibility to make sure I’m supporting my friends and community as much as I can.
More of my income is going to charities and organizations I believe in.
If you are financially stable, consider being generous and understand that those around you, as well as plenty of communities, could need assistance during turbulent times.
Some Next Steps for You
- Utilize a free online financial tool to get a sense of your full financial picture. When making decisions about how to adjust your financial plan during periods of uncertainty, it’s important to first have a 360-degree view of all your money. Personal Capital’s free financial tools are a good place to start — you’ll be able to securely link all of your financial accounts to monitor your net worth and cash flow. You can also manage and track your budget, calculate your retirement readiness, and analyze your portfolio.
- Consider speaking to a financial advisor before making any major changes to how you handle your finances.
*Personal Capital compensates Tori Dunlap (“Author”) for providing the content contained in this blog post. Additionally, in a separate referral arrangement between Author and Personal Capital Corporation (“PCC”), Author is paid $70 and $150 for each person who uses Author’s webpage (www.HerFirst100k.com) to register with Personal Capital and links at least $100,000 in investable assets to Personal Capital’s Free Financial Dashboard. As a result of these arrangements, Author may financially benefit from referring potential clients to Personal Capital and/or be incentivized to present blog content that is favorable to PCC. No fees or other amounts will be charged to investors by Author or Personal Capital as a result of the Referral Arrangement. Investors that are referred to PCC and subsequently subscribe for investment advisory services provided by PCC’s affiliated adviser, Personal Capital Advisors Corporation (“PCAC”) will not pay increased management fees or other similar compensation to Author, PCC or PCAC as a result of this arrangement. Additional information about PCAC is contained in Form ADV Part 2A available here.