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It’s time to “hunker down” regarding our finances, but stay CALM!

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man and woman preparing finances and reading

In the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) impact, we keep hearing “it’s time for us to hunker down” to reduce the opportunity of the virus spreading. Let’s face it: anxiety is high and people are feeling overwhelmed, so the temptation to panic is so prevalent. In times of crisis, however, we need to intentionally try to stay calm—especially regarding our finances.

So how can we stay calm about our money in the midst of the crisis?

Consider the following principles to stay CALM:

C – Control: Focus on what we can control regarding our finances, not what we can’t. We can’t control the roller coaster ride the stock market is taking or what interest rates will do in the future. However, we can control the following:

  • Cash flow – How is our cash flowing? Determine how much is coming in and what is going out.
  • Spending Plan (Budget) – Develop and project our spending plan for the next couple of months based on the impact of this crisis.

A – Adjust: What adjustments do I need to make?

  • Online services – Consider enrolling in bill pay and other automated services that will save us both time and money.
  • Savings – Shift our mindset and make savings a priority moving forward instead of an afterthought.

L – Limit: Limit nonessential spending. As our governor stated in a press conference, this is the time to sacrifice our wants to take care of our needs.

  • Expenses – Review our expenses and identify the ones to reduce immediately. If eating out frequently has become the norm, this crisis presents an opportunity to try a new recipe and eat at home. I finally decided to get rid of one of my two gym memberships (long story).
  • Entertainment – How many streaming services do we need? Is it time to say good-bye to our cable service?

M – Monitor: Stay on top of our finances by monitoring what is going on and act accordingly. This is not the time to put our heads in the sand and pretend that nothing has changed.

  • Contact Creditors – Run—don’t walk—to our creditors if we simply don’t have the money to pay them. Let them know where we stand. Chances are the person on the other end of the line is also feeling the impact of this crisis. If we don’t reach out, they won’t be able to help us.
  • Credit Report – Order a free copy of your credit report to ensure that we know who we owe.

Although for now this crisis is our “new normal,” we know that it won’t last forever. In the meantime, we can simply “hunker down” in our finances and remain CALM.