The past 20 months have been hard for everyone. We’re facing a pandemic in our lifetime. Who would have thought that we would experience a health crisis that made the world stop? I have to admit that I’m not financially ready for the pandemic, and I regret It.
When the government announced the first lockdown back in March 2020, I asked myself how I could survive with my small savings and how financially ready I was to face this pandemic. The lockdown also means fewer people will visit my website since they wouldn’t be able to go places anyway. Also, my hotel clients for social media marketing suspended their operation. I was left with no option but to change my saving and spending habits to survive.
Managing my finances was a major cause of my stress. I was one of the millions of people who lost their job (clients). Every day gave me a lot of uncertainties about the future of work and the economy.
No matter where you are on the scale, the following will be helpful, as these are the things that I do to take care of my financial health and manage my money.
1. I track and analyze my financial standing – I didn’t track my income and expenses pre-pandemic, but I started to do it when this crisis happened. I’m a visual learner, so I use an Excel sheet to check and analyze my finances. Especially now that much about our everyday lives have changed. A visual representation of my finances helps me decide how to spend my money.
My sheet is pretty straightforward: I listed all my fixed expenses like rent, utilities, and insurance. Then my other vital expenditures that can be adjusted like grocery and transportation. I need to make sure that my expected income can pay my essential bills. Having a clear vision of my fixed expenses and expected income has changed my spending habits. It’s a smart move right now because I can see if I have enough money ahead of time and if I have extra to reign in spending for buying clothes and other wants.
2. I keep my debt under control – The most significant recommendation in managing savings and spending habits during the pandemic is to avoid any new debt or limit credit card usage to paying only essential things like groceries or paying the bills. It’s tempting to take advantage of our credit cards and buy new gadgets, clothes, or shoes, or swiping it for things that scream low or zero interest rates.” You feel like you’re getting a deal. The truth is, you don’t even need them in the first place. Remember that debt is a liability, even if it has no interest. At the end of the day, it’s not your money that you’ve spent, so you have to charge it against your future income.
3. I stay and keep eating at home – Staying at home has become a big thing in this pandemic since it’s the best way to keep the virus at bay. Besides protecting myself, it comes with another benefit: I saved a lot on food expenses since I wouldn’t go out to eat. I used to dine out or have coffee almost every other day with friends, but I started to limit it when the pandemic happened. I learned that I could save a lot of money by just eating at home. Sure, my grocery spending increases, but overall, eating at home saves me more money, and I’m sure about the quality of my food.
4. I started doing more side jobs – I never thought that the time for me to do online selling would come, but since everyone couldn’t go out to shop during the onset of the pandemic, online selling became a hit in the Philippines. I started selling beauty products, food, and essential oils, and it is a great way to add another stream of income. There are many viable options right now. Side hustles help me reduce overall financial stress. I also started to offer freelance services like marketing consultation and writing to earn more and increase my savings. All these sides hustles safeguarded my finances when I lost my primary source of income. It helps me diversify, pay down debt, and put more money in the bank, helping me save for the rainy days.
5. I value my health—mental, emotional, and physical—more than ever – My health is obviously at high risk during this time. We all know that it costs money to get sick, especially if you don’t have health insurance and you only depend on its equivalent from the government. We’ve all heard of the horror stories about spending up to millions of pesos when someone gets severe COVID. So I focus on staying healthy by wearing a mask, staying home, getting enough rest, exercising, and drinking plenty of water. Gladly, almost two years into this pandemic, I’m COVID-free.
The uncertainty caused by this pandemic has been hard to deal with. But I’m optimistic. I keep looking at the bright side of the situation. How could there be a brighter side, you say? Well, consider this: I get to spend more time with my family, learn new skills, read more books, and change my saving and spending habits. Even if my finances took a huge hit in the beginning, I’m grateful for how it’s going and all these positive things I have experienced. Want to know more tips to manage your finances? Click this link to learn more.