2020 is one for the history books. Covid-19 has swept the world and is here to stay (in the U.S., at least…). While it may be difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel, there is one bright side to staying at home and doing nothing.
I, for one, have noticed my spending decrease dramatically. Looking through my credit card history, I don’t have a single expense for July yet! That must be a new record… In an average July, I would have at least racked up some bills from restaurant meals, gas, and visits to the local breweries.
Yet, here I am. Not having spent a dime in the past two weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather be going out to eat and doing all of the other things that I love to do in the summer. Staying at home is much, much less enjoyable.
But hey, we’re looking at the bright side.
The Covid Fund
The common savings advice is to have at least 3-6 months worth of expenses stored in an emergency fund (using a High Yield Savings Account if possible). If you have not already done so, what better time to get started?
No one knows how long this will last. But if everyone could set aside the money they would have otherwise spent going out, then in 2021—when this is hopefully over—I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of people would be well on their way to a fully stocked emergency fund.
Already have an emergency fund? Great! Set that money aside for retirement instead. The point is to take advantage of this mandatory slow-down by taking back control of your finances. Press pause on the frequent visits to the virtual Amazon storefront and instead focus on what truly adds value.
The Winter Blues
To be honest, I do this every year. Without fail, in the months of January and February, I get a good old-fashioned case of the Winter blues. So, since I don’t feel like going out in the first place, I start saving money! By the time March rolls around, I have a head start on the year’s saving goals.
Of course, everyone is different. You may be an avid skier and January through March are your favorite months of the year. But where you live, July and August may be too hot. Instead, make those your double-down savings months!
That has always been the issue with monthly budgets for me. How could I compare spending in January vs. July (in a typical year)? Instead of a flat line month-to-month, my spending patterns look much more like a college class’s bell curve, with the highest spending in the summer and lowest in the winter.
In This Together
So, what about you? Are you an avid skier or a frequenter of summertime breweries?
Whatever type of person you are, no one's up to much these days. But we are all in this together. So let’s be sure to come out stronger on the other side with an emergency fund that can get us through the next natural disaster!
A note to the unemployed. Of course, this post is geared towards those with jobs that are relatively unaffected by the Coronavirus. If your employment was impacted, be sure to check out your state’s unemployment program. While it does not last for much longer, the Cares Act has dramatically boosted unemployment benefits for the majority of U.S. citizens. Stay strong and keep searching!
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Want to learn about all of the essentials of personal finance in one place? Check out Finance in a Flash - 2020 Edition for everything you need to know!