Fear without direction is a scary thing. We’ve all had our lives upended in the past month, both personally and professionally, in the face of the global Coronavirus pandemic and it’s left many of us feeling a lot of fear about the future. What we’re missing is a plan, though. With a plan to guide our moves, fear and panic can begin to subside as steps are being taken to move past this and make our families safe again.
Though we have little control of the plan, or lack thereof, at the national level, we can do something to alleviate our fears at a personal level. The threat of COVID-19 has challenged my core belief that “Everything Happens For Me, Not To Me.” I used to see opportunity in chaos but now I am focused on how I can protect my family, support my business and serve my neighbors and community so we can all leave this stronger than when it started.
So I made a list of the things I can control:
A great place to start is to build yourself a budget.
No one likes creating a budget, it’s about as fun as nails on a chalkboard, but controlling your expenses is a key aspect to keeping yourself afloat during trying financial times. Being aware of all of your expenses, the timing of them versus when your paychecks come through and your overall cash flow can help you make smarter choices and increase your savings or investments over time.
It may seem daunting, but you can create your budget with just three simple steps:
Step One: Collect and organize all of your credit card statements, bank statements and income sources.
Most of us just finished doing our taxes, so much of this will be easy to gather. How you organize is up to you and what works best for you. For me, it’s compiling a spreadsheet. For you, it may be spreading everything out on your kitchen table with paper and pen at the ready. What’s important is that you’re getting a complete picture of what comes in and goes out each month. If you’re tech-adept, there are a number of free or cheap online budgeting tools like Mint or Personal Capital.
Step Two: Now that you have a clear picture of your monthly expenses and income, decide how tight or loose your budget needs to be.
If you anticipate an upcoming loss of income or change in financial circumstances like having a kid or relocating your family, or if your family is just saving for an upcoming vacation or big purchase, this is when you start going through your monthly expenses and decide which ones can be eliminated.
Step Three: Ask for help.
There are affordable personal finance coaches for nearly every situation, whether you’re looking to get out from under debt or plan for the future. If you’re planning for your business, a cash flow coach can provide guidance in your futures planning. There should be no shame in asking someone with more experience to share their expertise—take advantage of the vast wealth of knowledge resources available to you and plan for a secure financial future for yourself and your business!
The most valuable thing to do right now is to take action and make a plan. Channel that fear into productivity where you’re able and be proactive about your financial future. Stay at home right now, spend some time planning and emerge from this pandemic ready for what comes next.
Scott Royal Smith is an asset protection attorney and long-time real estate investor. He's on a mission to help fellow investors free their time, protect their assets, and create lasting wealth.
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