The pandemic continues to interrupt our lives in stops and starts, affecting how we earn, spend and save. It’s not going away; rather, it ebbs and flows in the new normal. So, now may be the perfect time for you and your family to revisit your financial goals and plans.
Whatever stage of life you find yourself, whether it’s starting a family and purchasing a new home or nearing retirement, a Servus wealth advisor can help you refresh your plans so that you stay safely afloat during turbulent times.
Focus your budget and be prepared
For some, the pandemic has strained savings and forced increased spending for items such as office supplies as the workforce shifted toward home. For others, it has provided an opportunity to boost what they save and rein in what they spend. Wherever you fall on this spectrum of income flow, it’s time to refocus your household budget and overall financial plan.
The unpredictability of the pandemic and its impact on the economy can upset even the best-laid strategies for most people, including empty nesters, those who have paid off their mortgage and those expecting a baby.
Watch what income comes in and what goes out. Keep track of all your family’s fixed expenses such as your monthly phone and internet bills, auto insurance, groceries (impacted by inflation), mortgage or rent and otherwise. Some people are comfortable using spreadsheets or apps, while others go old-school with folders of receipts and lists.
Consider cutting where you can and routinely reallocate some savings to bolster an emergency fund. It’s a cushion against unpredictability that can provide you with peace of mind. A traditional rule is to have enough savings to carry you through six months to a year, but it must fit your circumstances and no one size fits all. If you already have an emergency fund, consider retooling it to accommodate changes to your finances in the past year or so.
Align your goals for flexibility
The pandemic has taught us nothing is set in stone and the unthinkable can happen to each of us. Perhaps your annual income has been upended or your savings have been drained or you’ve had to take on the financial problems of a family member in need.
Whatever the situation, revisiting your financial goals and planning for both the short and long term now will help you to adapt moving forward. It’s good practice to do so at least annually, even if you maintain your long-term financial goals, which could range from saving for a house to investing for retirement.
An important aspect of doing so is making sure that you have an estate plan, which is a financial cornerstone regardless of your age. Also, take a second look at your investments while assessing your risk tolerance and time horizon within the context of the pandemic’s impact on the economy, which could reveal opportunities and pitfalls you hadn’t seen before.
Get a handle on debt
If you’re in the position of being able to spend more as the pandemic recedes, be mindful that it’ll be tempting to ramp up purchases.
The era of low interest rates and easy spending may be over as interest rate hikes loom and inflation eats away at your purchasing power. The quickest way to reduce your debt is to manage the areas where debt charges are highest, which may be your credit cards.
It may be time to consider renegotiating a mortgage or even your main line of credit. Is it time to throttle back on goods and services that carry high debt charges? It isn’t easy but taming debt can reap you long-term rewards.
Figure out what matters the most and rebuild
There’s nothing like a challenge that shakes us to the core for refocusing what really matters to us, so that we can realign our financial plans toward it. The pandemic with all its ongoing financial, social and health ramifications, has been that for many. Your best future is out there. A Servus wealth advisor can help you to reach it.