Our single biggest stress factor is our money. Waking up in the middle of the night allowing the fears or stress stop you from the dreams and goals you have are not doing us any favors. Push through and declare with me today, “Never Again!” This is especially challenging with our current lives now as we feel more than a little derailed during the pandemic.
October brings us cooler temperatures, FINALLY, and thoughts of perhaps making some tough decisions for the remainder of the year. Let’s make a homemade pumpkin spice latte (yes, I have a recipe, stay tuned) as we launch to take action.
Think through this with me for a moment. Individually we have been through a game changer so now more than ever is time to begin some changes. Depending on your individual situation it may be something simple like continue planting a few seasonal vegetables. What do you want to happen next? Start by sitting down over a weekend with a pot of coffee (pumpkin coming), music in the background and begin writing down your top 5 priorities. Then….what action steps will you need to take in order to accomplish your goals?
If you’re looking for more security and confidence with your money, dive in and try these life changing steps:
1. Reassess your current financial situation
Earlier this year did you go into “storm mode”? The first month our stay home orders went into effect I adjusted my spending slightly. However, 30 days later my spending plan underwent the first of many adjustments. The top priority was to take care of the four walls — that’s food, utilities, shelter and transportation—and nothing else. You may have canceled cable or a gym/studio membership. Did you need to tell the credit card companies to wait their turn?
If you find yourself either still out of work or simply feeling like your income isn’t as stable as you want then stick with the Four Walls a little longer. At least until the income situation is sorted out.
But, if you still have or found a new job and feel you are in a secure situation it might be time to begin looking at your money goals. Would you like to save for a down payment on a house? What about tackling the never ending debt payments on credit cards or student loans? Look at what your total consumer debt total is for one month. Is it $700 or $1000 every month? If we use $700 as an example….that’s $8400 in one year that can go into savings or retirement with our name on it instead of names like Visa, Discover, etc.
It’s now time to take a step back and look at where you are right now with a fresh pair of eyes. What did you learn in 2020 and how can those lessons help you shift and change from this point on? Make decisions that make sense for your situation and your goals, not someone else’s. Before you emerge from financial quarantine, make sure you’re caught up on your bills and debts so you are not adding extra interest and penalties.
2. Revisit your monthly spending plan.
If you were stuck at home during quarantine, your spending whether you had a plan or not probably felt really out of whack. I know mine pivoted so many times it has whiplash.
As we worked from dining rooms and bedrooms with nowhere else to go, you probably went weeks without having to fill up on gas. At one point I was getting an entire month to a tank of gas. On the flip side, we spent more on masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer in a couple of months than in your entire life!
Now as things are slowly opening back up, you might need to start adjusting your spending back to where it was pre-COVID. We’re starting to drive more, visit a few restaurants, and getting back into the swing of things.
The silver lining to come from the quarantine may help you realize the things you don’t want to go back to. Maybe all those sourdough bread recipes we tried have inspired you to avoid eating out as much as you did before because you really enjoyed healthier meals with your family. The free workout videos on YouTube and Amazon along with walks around the neighborhood helped without the gym membership cost burning a hole in your budget.
The point is that you have a chance to pick and choose what returns to your monthly budget and what stays out—don’t waste it!
3. Get back on track.
If you’ve been anxiously wanting to get back to attacking your debt with focused intensity or resume saving for retirement now might be the time — especially if you still have your job and feel like your income is stable.
As millions of Americans lost their jobs or were furloughed, many folks had to dip into their emergency funds to keep things going. Thank goodness for our emergency fund, it has truly been a blessing for so many. If you’re back to work and a steady income, it’s time to get the emergency fund back up to 3–6 months’ worth of expenses. Nothing will give you peace of mind and financial stability like an emergency fund. You operate from a sense of peace instead of panic. No stress.
Did you pause contributions to your 401(k) and IRA, the kids’ college funds or make extra principal payments on the house during this time? Again, if you’re back to work and have stable income, you might feel comfortable picking up where you left off.
It can be difficult at times to look back, take stock and build a more financial foundation, but if you make it a priority, it will happen. And this is where I can help, reach out to me or share this information with others you know.
Now as I promised earlier, your “Pumpkin Spice Latte” Syrup recipe:
Combine 1 cup water and 1/2 cup brown sugar in saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until brown sugar dissolves, creating a simple syrup. Add One 15-ounce can of pumpkin and 2-3 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently! Let cool, then strain mixture through cheesecloth or metal strainer. Pour into mason jar or bottle to store. Add as much or as little to your coffee cup, depending on your preference. Top with a dollop of cream or milk and Enjoy!!