Matters of money are like a river that eddies and flows. The water flows to you, and away from you, and pools around you. This maps to three key areas of financial flow of income, outgoings, and investment.
Under the COVID-19 pandemic, personal finances are taking a hit in each of these areas:
- There is uncertainty around the continuity of income, especially in nonessential sectors.
- Major changes in lifestyle mean that outgoings are shifting.
- Investment plans need reevaluation due to volatility.
There is a general realignment of priorities for these three key areas of financial flow. However, you can make this work in your favor.
Embracing Your Financial Flow
It is harder right now to have confidence in money matters. There is uncertainty with unemployment skyrocketing. There is also difficulty in predicting when social distancing will lift and how the job market will reemerge. The prevailing sense of shortage and limited resources only compounds this. In spite of these difficulties, or even because of this pressure, it is a perfect time to take a look at these three key areas critical to your financial flow.
Seeking refinement in each of these three areas will have an impact on your financial health over time. However, there are often obstacles to your progress. These include your level of expertise but also more fundamentally what you believe to be possible. These beliefs include your mindset around money and your financial setpoints.
You might be in an industry that has been able to continue virtually without interruption. However, you may still have concerns about when the hit the economy is taking will trickle down to impact your business and employment.
You might be in an industry where demand has escalated. Perhaps you need to work longer hours and this may or may not be reflected in your pay. Being on the front line may have you questioning your commitment to your line of work and what you are comfortable with.
You might be in the industries that have enormous reductions in function such as retail, food, transport, or entertainment where larger gatherings take place. For some, this means identifying places where support can be found or alternate means of earning.
Having said this, the pandemic environment has opened up new markets of opportunity for making money. For example, anything you can easily move online can be leveraged right now. Innovative people can find new solutions for minimizing contamination and addressing the new needs bought forth by the pandemic.
Each of us has an opportunity to reflect deeply on the source of our revenue both practically in terms of what we believe is possible as well as the sense of fulfillment that it provides.
Take time to compare your outgoings before social isolation to what they are now. Assessing your expenses and charitable contributions might be an eyeopening exercise. Consider where you would like them to be and options to defer costs, replace or reduce costs, or simply remove them.
Some costs may be cut right now with a plan to resume them as needed. For instance, expenses associated with food and entertainment, yard maintenance, and exercise venues.
2. Replace and Reduce
You might have favored certain services or products that can be replaced with a cheaper alternative.
Take a look at your levels of debt. Research ways to consolidate or reduce this as part of your financial flow. Not all debt is as damaging as it first appears. In some cases, the money can provide a greater return than it costs you. For example, remortgaging at a low-interest rate to pay off money owed elsewhere could be a way to reduce your total obligation.
3. Remove or Do It Yourself
There are things that can be cut out without being missed or achieved in alternate ways. For example, you might now have home exercise options. Or, there may be activities that you have been paying other people to do that you now have the time to take care of yourself. Identify all the ways in which you could do it yourself and get the desired results. Perhaps, beauty treatments can be replaced by self-pampering. This could be anything from self-massage to experimenting with nail and hairstyle options. Even some aspects of house maintenance can provide a challenge to learn new skills and have fun creating. You may find pleasure in preparing your own delicious food and reduce eating out permanently.
Consideration of all the options available in terms of your expenses can provide interesting insights.
Traditional areas of investment such as bonds, stock market, and housing all have associated levels of risk. Each of these is likely to show volatility at some point in response to unprecedented levels of bailout and unemployment. Look at your current plans and your level of diversity to balance the return on your investment with the possibility of loss. Consider where you are in regard to your long term saving goals and what downturns might mean to that trajectory.
Overall, this change in global expectations can be a gift for your financial flow awareness. How are you going to make changes to your three key areas of financial flow?
Caveat – I am definitely not a finance expert. Seek advice and research thoroughly before making decisions regarding your personal financial flow.