• April 2020 Monthly Budget

    Our April monthly budget has a ton of new changes because our lives are different now! With trying to navigate the current financial crisis and global pandemic we’ve adjusted our goals for the year and our budget is going to reflects that change.

    Our main focus is savings for our emergency fund and building up 3 months of expenses. We are also planning to celebrate birthdays and investing small amounts for future goals.

    Budget With Me!

    In the video you can budget along with me as we cover the budget necessities: bills, fixed expenses, variable expenses, debt payments, and sinking funds.

    As always I’m planning in my happy planner with the budgeting printables from my Etsy shop.

    If you are new to watching our budgets, here’s a little run down of our situation! We both work full time, I do freelance work and earn income from my YouTube channel and this is our take home income that I am budgeting. I cover bills, variable spending expenses, sinking funds and the goals for the month. This month we are super focused on increasing our emergency fund which we are trying to cover 3 months of expenses and eventually even more.

    April 2020 Monthly Budget Setup

    During this month’s budget preplanning I set our monthly goals and covered the important one time expenses for the month.

    April monthly goals:

    • Save $2,000 for our emergency fund
    • Don’t do unnecessary online shopping

    April one time expenses:

    • Birthdays for all of us: $300
    • Car insurance increase: $122 (sinking fund)
    • Filing for new car tags: $145

    Thankfully we are able to plan for all of these one time expenses and still save for our main goal of the emergency fund because we aren’t paying typical expenses like daycare and fun activities.

    As far as our monthly to do items, we are trying to increase the savings even more by tailoring the to do list to this goal:

    • Earn more money through YouTube and Etsy and freelance work
    • Find free activities to keep my toddler entertained
    • Start potty training to cut diaper spending out

    Hopefully we can at least achieve a few of these to do items!

    April 2020 Monthly Budget

    Here’s the breakdown of the actual budget for April 2020.

    Extra Income$200
    Pennies Not Perfection$800
    Total Income$6,000

    With $6,000 in planned income for the month we broke it down this way:

    529 Plan$25
    Security System$25
    M1 Finance$10
    Roth Ira$10
    New Car Tags$145
    AES Loan Payment$220
    Misc. Spending$50
    Phone Sinking Fund (Mint Mobile)$50
    Car Insurance Sinking Fund$75
    Life Insurance Sinking Fund$35
    Subscribe & Save Sinking Fund$50
    Emergency Fund Sinking Fund$2,260

    Our Emergency Fund Savings

    Because we aren’t playing many different expenses like daycare or going out to eat or going to events or throwing parties (the list goes on) we are able to save a lot more money in our emergency fund!

    We recently determined what we need for our emergency fund to equal 3-6 months of expenses.

    Looking at our monthly expenses and cutting out many things for an emergency situation means we need roughly $3,000 a month for our expenses. This means for a 3 month emergency fund we will need $9,000 saved. For a 6 month emergency fund we will want to stock up $18,000.

    We have a plan for our emergency fund and hopefully things go well and we can save it up with our extra income coming in and big paychecks from the government.

    Now with planning to save $2,000 a month we will also be adding a lot of our regular income to our emergency fund. This means we will be able to save up to $9,000 much quicker than I originally expected.

    Investing Small Amounts

    While we are prioritizing savings during this crazy time, we are also continuing to invest small amounts into the market and dollar cost average our investments.

    I’ve been investing for a long time now and I love investing when markets are going up and when markets are going down. In fact, my shortest time frame investments are for at least 15-16 years from now when I want to use the dividends to help my daughter.

    Because I am not investing money for the short term I don’t worry about the markets year to year ups and downs. I simply add money which will continue to grow. That’s why I’m still investing small amounts even when I have bigger goals to achieve, because I know small amounts I won’t miss now will add up to huge amounts later.

    I’ve talked a bit about the investing platforms I use for different purposes and here are the ones I plan to use this month:

    Because all of thee accounts have different goals and allow me to try out the more popular investing platforms I’m able to try different things and also work toward multiple goals in the far off future.

    Keep On Budgeting

    In times of stress and changes a lot of people think throwing out budgeting is the right choice. In reality, creating a budget and following it during times of uncertainty helps you create a sense of calm and control. You might not be able to control much of the outside world, but you can control your budget!

    Now is the right time to hunker down and do the best things you can for yourself and your specific situation. For us that means saving a lot of our income for our new emergency fund.

    If you’ve lost your job then that might mean making big budget changes and filing for unemployment so you can cover your budget priorities – the four walls of survival.

    If you’re still working and have a secure income then maybe you can increase your investments to fund your future or even find ways to help those around you and use your money to spread joy in a time where it is much needed.

    No matter what your goals are, continue with budgeting and using your money wisely and consistently to hit your goals. You don’t have to be perfect with your money but you do need to be consistent!

  • How To Create Your First Budget

    Budgeting can feel a lot like guessing and failing in the beginning. 

    You can save yourself time by using worksheets or an app that guides you through the process but the basics of creating your first budget are actually easy. You need to figure out how much money you are bringing in and how much money you are spending.

    For most people you are going to budget your after tax post deduction income. Basically you want to give the money you bring home an assignment so you can better optimize your budget to achieve all of your financial goals.

    So let’s get started creating your first budget.

    Gather Your Budgeting Supplies

    First, gather up all the supplies you’ll need to determine your current expenses and spending. To start your first budget you will need a few different things in order to get organized.

    The supplies you will need to create your first budget includes:

    These are the basic supplies you will need to gather up in order to understand your current spending habits so that you will be able to start your first budget and get on the path to financial success.

    Write Out All Your Monthly Bills

    For the first step, write out all your bills. You can start by brainstorming a list and writing down everything you remember. This list should include everything you pay every month that is a set price like your rent or mortgage, utility bills,

    On first glance relying on memory you may forget some bills. It is very easy to forget about bills that are on autopay or subscription plan. Next you’ll want to give your statements a look and add anything you’ve forgotten, which includes things like subscriptions.

    Next to each bill write the due date or the date you pay it every month. This will help you for the next steps where you are going to plot out your expenses based on when things must be paid.

    Order Your Bills By Calendar & Paycheck

    Now, write out all of those bills in order or on a calendar view. This step is optional but it is very, very helpful especially if you feel like you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to find any money during certain times of the month.

    Laying out your bills in a visual format can help you see areas where you can improve. Maybe all of your bills are due at one time of the month so it’s obvious why you are struggling to have anything left over during that paycheck.

    Look at the month and add in where you get paid so you can see where bills are actually falling. The two biggest things you can do with your bill due dates in order to stop living paycheck to paycheck are to change your due dates and to split bigger bills between paychecks. 

    • If all of your bills fall within one paycheck period, call and move some of your bill due dates. This is easy to do with a lot of companies and they will move when your payment is due to earlier or later in the month. Spreading our your bills throughout the month and splitting them between paycheck cycles can be very helpful.
    • Split your big bills between multiple paychecks if possible. For most people your biggest monthly payment is your rent or mortgage. You can split this between two paychecks in order to make it easier to pay and leave you more disposable money one each paycheck. In our case, we were paying our $1,200 mortgage payment all at once but that took up the entirety of one of our paychecks. So we contacted our mortgage company and switched to biweekly payments so now we pay $600 every other week. This is much easier to do and eased a lot of the burden on our budget. You can do this with big bills like rent by putting aside half of the bill payment in savings until the paycheck when it’s ready to be paid. So every paycheck you’ll be saving something toward that bill instead of having to pay it all at once. 

    Categorize Your Previous Spending 

    Once you have gathered up all of your budgeting supplies, it is time to take a look at what you have already been spending every month. This process will be eye opening if you have never done it before. Most people are shocked by how much they spend in certain categories – but it is critical that you take a look at the spending you’ve already been doing!

    For this step you will review your spending over the last three months and group spending into categories. This can take a little bit of time but is absolutely critical knowledge to have.

    The easiest way to do it is to go through your statements and assign each type of spending a highlighter color. Then when you are done highlighting a month into categories, add up all the spending in that category. Doing this for three months gives you a better idea of what you actually spend than just doing it for a month.

    Set Reasonable Goals For Spending

    Now that you know what you were already spending, it is time to add your variable spending to your budget plan. You will look at the categories of spending and set new budget amounts for each one based on reducing your previous spending in a reasonable way.

    Once you have your totals, be realistic about those categories for your first month of budgeting. Don’t try to cut them to the bare bones immediately – that is just a recipe for failing and giving up on budgeting in the first month!

    If you were spending $1,000 on food each month for the last three months, try reducing it by 10% the first month of budgeting and only plan to spend $900. If you spend less than that because you are more aware then great job! However, if you instead only gave yourself $200 for food for the month and ending up spending $500, it would feel like a failure.

    By starting to cut your spending by realistic amounts in the beginning, it will help you make progress instead of feeling like a failure and giving up immediately. Seeing the money you’ve saved from the very beginning will give you a satisfactory win during your first budget months.

    Plan Your Sinking Funds

    Finally, think about your sinking funds and irregular expenses. Everyone has some items they must pay for during the year but don’t happen every month. This includes things like car insurance, car maintenance, yearly vet visits for pets. You can set up sinking funds for a number of categories including these 13 popular sinking funds.

    To plan your sinking funds you will need to figure these out along with the amount you need for each irregular bill or an estimate of unexpected expenses. When you know the full number for an irregular bill you will divide this number by the amount of months or paychecks until you need to pay it.

    As an example, if you want to save $600 for Christmas, divide that by 12 and plan to save $50 a month. If you have to pay $300 in car insurance that is due every 6 months, but you are only 3 months away and get paid twice a month, then divide that $300 by 6 for a total of $50 you need to save each paycheck.

    Do this exercise for each expense you have and then create a sinking fund or separate savings account to store that money until the bill is due and needs to be paid. We do this in our Capital One banking account but there are many other banks that allow this and you can also create one account and keep a spreadsheet of the money you’ve got for each sinking fund.

    Add All Your Expenses Up

    The final step of creating your budget is to list the dollar amount for all of your bills, your expected spending in each variable category and your savings amount for your sinking funds. Now add it all up! This is the amount you’ll need to have in income to cover your expenses.

    If your income exceeds this total number, then great! You’re done and can plan to add the leftover income amount to your financial goals like saving or paying down debt.

    If your income won’t cover this final number then you need to look back at all the numbers and find areas to cut the expenses and spending levels. While you don’t want to be drastic with your first budget, you do need to make cuts in order to cover everything you are going to spend. If you have been living above your means and spending too much each month then this process might be more painful.

    The number one rule of budgeting is to never ever ever ever spend more than you make. If your income is less than your planned expenses then you need to make more changes.

    Track Your Spending

    The last and most important part of budgeting is the one we all tend to gloss over but it is crucial – you must track your spending.

    If you don’t track your spending, how will you know if your budget worked or not? You won’t and being disorganized is what leads a lot of people into tricky debt situations.

    You can track your spending in a number of ways – write it down on pen and paper, keep a spending log, use an app that automatically pulls your bank transactions that you just have to categorize.

    There are many ways to do it but you need to pay attention and keep track of how much you are spending – especially in categories where you tend to overspend. For us that budget category where we overspend is eating out and groceries. These are categories where we have to carefully track what we spend and use cash envelopes to give ourselves a hard stop so we don’t go over budget.

    Create A Prioritized Spending Plan

    One thing to note is that not everyone can budget the same way and this is especially true if you have a variable income. If you have an income based on commission or is otherwise variable then you need to create both a prioritized spending plan and a savings account to even out your income.

    If your income is variable or inconsistent then you can create a priority list for all the things you’d like to do after your bills, expenses, and sinking funds are taken care of with your budget. With inconsistent income you need to cover the must haves first and then each month plan to do as much as you can with what you bring in.

    You should always plan to have your main expenses covered by your lowest / worst case income in a month. When you have a very good month you can cover more of your prioritized list and also add extra income to your savings account that will then be used on months with less income. This can help you adjust to having a roller coaster income and make months less volatile.

    Continue Making Cuts & Adjustments

    After your first budget is made and passes you can then review your budget to see how well you did. Many people don’t do a great job the first month or even the first 3 times or more!

    In fact, we were very bad at budgeting for a long time. It took us about a year to get our budget fine tuned and another year to cut out enough expenses so that our spending was covered by just one income.

    Adjusting your budget over time and continually making cuts to reduce your spending so you can increase savings is a normal part of budgeting. Work on finding ways to be more frugal and new ways to save money that you can implement each month and keep reducing your overall expenses!

    Keep On Budgeting!

    All of these steps will get easier and easier each time you do them. Eventually you will be budgeting without much thought and flying through your financial goals.

    Just remember that the first time you make a budget is the hardest but it’s also the first step to a better, happier, more secure financial life without stress and worry.

    Your future budgets will get better and sometimes even future budgets will be a mess. Budgeting is a continual process where you learn and change and adjust as you go. The two main rules are to always spend less than you make and track where your money goes! Everything else you can adjust to fit how you personally like to do those two things!

  • Are Gym Memberships Worth The Money?

    For the past 8 months I’ve paid $150 for a gym membership. It’s the most I’ve ever paid for a gym membership and a number of times on my budget videos people have questions whether the gym membership was worth it or if I could get out of it. It’s made me wonder monthly if gym memberships are worth the cost in general.

    Why pay for a gym membership?

    Unfortunately, as most of us get older we start to gain a few pounds or find it’s harder to lose weight than it once was. Now that my friends and I are in our 30s we have to focus more on what we eat and how much we workout. Being active is important to not only our physical health but our mental health as well.

    While being active is very important many wonder why you need to pay for a gym membership when there are plenty of ways to workout for free. If you can do free workouts via YouTube, run through bodyweight exercise or go for a run outside, why would you spend money to achieve fitness?

    For many of us we struggle to workout at home and motivate ourself to be active. There is not an internal drive to be active especially when we view our homes as a sense of calm and relaxation. To achieve the level of fitness we need we must instead seek out an environment that encourages action – hence paying for a gym membership.

    Personally I’ve got to stay active to help with my mental health and dislike working from home. While I do go for walks often I struggle with running and find myself much more active in a group class environment or with a personal trainer at a gym. Since I know my personality and need to stay active this means I need to belong to a gym.

    I’ve had a lot of experience trying to decide if I want to keep my gym membership or let it go to help reduce budget expenses. Ultimately I’ve always decided that the gym membership has been worth it for me, whether I’m paying $10 a month or $150 a month by asking myself a set of questions regarding each membership.

    Questions to answer about the cost of gym membership:

    When trying to determine whether or not your gym membership is worth the cost, you should ask yourself the following questions:

    • How much does your gym membership cost?  Deciding whether or not a gym membership is worth the cost involves look at exactly how much it costs. There are a variety of gym types that cost different amounts. Your local 24/7 basic gym will cost less than a YMCA membership which will cost less than a Crossfit membership. My current gym costs $150 per month but previous gym memberships cost me $10-$25 per month. Whether or not your membership is worth it depends on both the amount it costs and if that cost fits in your budget or not.
    • How often do you use your gym membership? Gyms make money by selling memberships that are never used. This is a well known fact and they depend on it to stay afloat. For every one person in the gym they need to have memberships for 5 more people that never come in. It’s a strange business model but it works and keeps many gyms in business. If you want your membership to be worth the cost then you need to actually get in the gym and use what you pay for. I believe my gym memberships have been worth the cost because I utilize the gym anywhere from 3 to 6 times a week depending on my schedule. There has not been a week where I’ve used it less than 3 times and since I struggle making myself workout at home the gym membership solves my issues because I will actually use it.
    • How convenient is your gym membership? If you use your gym membership regularly then you need to also consider whether the gym is convenient enough for you. Is it close to work or home? Do you have to go out of your way to get there? Even if you use a gym a lot there may be a more convenient option for you that is cheaper. If you have a gym membership that is so convenient it seamlessly fits into your routine then it is likely worth the cost.
    • Do you have the money for a gym membership? This is the most important thing to consider when trying to determine if the cost is worth it. If your gym membership will make it hard for you to get by each month then it is not worth the cost. You shouldn’t have to choose between a gym membership and necessities like food or utilities. If you don’t have the money for luxuries and consider the gym a luxury then you should not have a gym membership. Getting into better shape does not have to cost any money at all. However if it is instead a necessity for you because it is the only way you will stay active then you should try to find a low cost membership that fits in your budget.
    • Will you be stuck in a contract for a long period? Unfortunately gym membership contracts are one of the downsides to joining a gym. You sign up for one year or more in many locations before you are certain that the gym will be the right fit long term. Remember to consider not only if you can afford the gym for the first month but 12 months down the road. Before signing up look into what options you have in case you change your mind or no longer feel the gym fits your needs.

    Those are the things that I think you should consider when trying to decide if a gym membership is worth the cost or not. It’s how I looked at the question and decided my gym membership was in fact worth the cost in most situations.

    Do you actually need a gym?

    So maybe you are considering a gym membership but you are on the fence. You don’t necessarily think you have to have one or you aren’t sure the perks are worth the cost. Do you have to actually belong to a gym to be fit?

    The answer of course, is no! You don’t need a gym membership to be fit at all! In fact, there are plenty of reasons to skip it altogether.

    Reasons why you might want to skip a gym membership:

    • Skipping a gym membership will save you money
    • You won’t have another monthly bill
    • Gyms can get boring over time
    • Working out at home can save time
    • There are a lot of germs in gyms and they aren’t always clean
    • There are many free or lower cost ways to workout without a gym membership

    Here are a few ways to get fit without belonging to a gym:

    • Do YouTube workouts that are put out there for free
    • Join a free local running club that meets weekly (or more) for accountability
    • Buy a bicycle and join a regular cycling meetup to get fit in a group or just bike along on streets or trails
    • Play loud music and dance around by yourself or with your family every day
    • Find ways to be more active naturally like walking more to complete errands
    • Buy a treadmill or elliptical for your home (even one for $2,000 will pay off after just a couple years)
    • Buy home gym equipment you can use to workout with daily

    Having a home gym or being able to workout regularly at home for free comes in handy especially during times when gyms may be closed. You will never lack for a workout during a holiday or when gyms are forced closed by natural disasters or health emergencies.

    Answering the question about whether gyms are worth the money really comes down to your personal situation (like most things in personal finance!). It depends on your situation, your health, your motivation, your budget.

    Whether or not a gym membership will be worth the cost to you is only a question you can answer because there is no right or wrong answer to the question!

  • What To Do During A Job Loss Or Financial Crisis

    Have you lost your job? Was your income cut in half by a lost contract? Was your entire department laid off? There are many ways you might end up in a financial crisis but regardless of how it happened there are a few common things you should do to make it through.

    Your budget priorities during a crisis like a job loss or coronavirus mean you are covering the basics and moving into survival mode. This is based on Dave Ramsey’s four walls ideas with a few extra ideas of my own thrown in based on losing multiple jobs in the past and going through a recession when I first graduated college.  This is advice for anyone facing an unexpected loss of income and stuck in a situation that is a financial crisis. 

    Don’t panic. 

    The initial instinct after a financial crisis like a job loss is to panic and default to anxiety about the situation. This doesn’t help and you need to do your best not to allow panic to set in. Learn how to handle uncertain times and do your best to be alert, not anxious.

    • Finding yourself in a financial crisis after a job loss feels scary, but don’t panic. People go through this and come out the other side all the time. It’s possible. 
    • Give yourself some time to feel upset or have a good cry. Seriously get those emotions out. Allow yourself a few hours or even a full day to just feel what you feel. Then, let that go. Getting it out does help, promise.
    • Take action. You can definitely get through all this.  Be alert and active, not anxious. 

    Compile your resources.

    Calmly compile all the resources available to you and can expect to come to you in the coming weeks or months.

    • Add up all the money you’ve already saved for a rainy day if you have any and see how far it will get you. 
    • Calculate how far that money will cover your immediate basic needs. 
    • Look at what you already have on hand like pantry food and make a list to see how far it can stretch. 
    • Review any ways you are currently bringing in any amount of income like side hustles and any money you may have coming to you like a tax return. 
    • File for unemployment if you lost your job and disaster relief if you are able to because it’s available. I will leave links for sites in the descriptions

    Pause all extra debt payments.

    If you have been working the debt snowball, it is time to stop making extra debt payments. Survival mode budgeting is when you cut out all extras from the budget which includes making extra debt payments.

    • During a crisis / storm you will pause Dave Ramsey’s baby steps or whatever debt payoff plan you are following.
    • It is not the time to pay off extra debt. What you should do is pay the minimums if you can after taking care of your four walls.
    • Call your loan company and ask if you can defer due to hardship. If you know you won’t have the money to pay the bill, tell them. It is much better to be proactive than to just not pay and destroy your credit.
    • Make a survival budget. This should include the four walls I’m going to go over and very little besides it. In an emergency you don’t stress about how to pay your cable bill. 
    how to budget for a crisis if you lose your job

    Budget Priorities During A Crisis

    When you are thrown into a financial crisis, you must adjust your budget. If you have lost your entire income due to a job loss then you are in an emergency and your emergency budget needs to have different priorities than your normal monthly budget.

    Your emergency budget during a crisis should focus on making sure the basic necessities in life are covered first. That means you need to cover 4 things before everything else. Your money needs to cover those things in order and then move on from there. It is a great time to learn how to live frugally and improve your budgeting skills.

    So what should you pay for first in your emergency survival budget? Keep reading.

    Take care of food basics first

    Eating food and drinking water is essential to life so this needs to be the number one priority in your survival budget during a money crisis.

    • Make sure you are feeding your family so that you are heathy and functioning. 
    • This means making food at home on the cheap. 
    • Lean how to cut that food budget and make cheap meals at home. There are tons of frugal ideas on YouTube and Pinterest. 

    Next keep your utilities on.

    After you have made sure your family is fed and healthy, you need to prioritize keeping your utilities going so you have lights and water.

    • Keep your utilities paid so you have lights and water
    • Call the utility companies and see if they have ways to postpone or skip a payment due to hardship
    • If its a national emergency or disaster then there is often also special help for these. Call and ask.
    • Find ways to lower the utility bill over all and run the heat or air less so you don’t have to use as much money for this. 

    Then take care of shelter next.

    The next budget priority during survival mode is to pay for your shelter – either rent or a mortgage payment.

    • It is easier to manage life and move through a crisis if you aren’t in danger of being homeless. 
    • Use all possible money to make sure you make your mortgage payment or pay your rent. 
    • Again if a national emergency or disaster call your mortgage company or landlord to see if they have relief options to help with making the payments.

    Finally take care of transportation.

    The final budget priority during a financial crisis is paying for transportation so you have a way to get around as needed.

    • This means either paying for your car and gas or finding out how to pay for public transportation.
    • You need a transportation source generally to get to a job or to get out and get groceries.
    • You don’t need a huge care payment and this can go if you are in a huge crisis. You can get a beater that gets you from point A to point B. 

    Everything else besides those four things can wait or be delayed in your budget. 

    Make money however you can.

    During a financial crisis where you’ve lost your income, you need to focus on bringing in money in any way you can.

    • File for unemployment if you lost your job and disaster relief if you are able to because it’s available.
    • Deliver pizzas or find whatever you can. Drive uber eats. Sell hour long remote coaching sessions in your field of expertise. 
    • Right now stores like Kroger and Costco are hiring for immediate starts. If you just lost your regular job, go straight to a store and apply.
    • Start a side hustle to earn money if you’ve been thinking about one.
    • Make enough money to survive and pay for your four walls that are most important to get you through until you increase income and things return to a new normal.  

    Finally take care of your health.

    Health is wealth. That statement is true and making it through a financial crisis means you need to take care of both your physical health and mental health.

    • It’s easy to fall into bad routines and bad mental health when you lose a job. Be alert and aware of that happening and act to prevent it.
    • Stay active however you can with your abilities. There are tons of free workout videos on YouTube.
    • If medications are part of your mental health routine, they need to be priority number 1 just like food. 
    • If you go to therapy, that might need to stay a priority in your budget as well. You need to protect your mental health over paying something like a cable bill. 
    • And find ways to take care of yourself – pray, meditate, practice gratitude, complete acts of kindness, call a friend, take a walk in nature. Do all the things that might not feel important but will lead you to stay healthy physically and mentally. 

    Those are just a few ways to make it through a financial crisis like a job loss, temporary layoff, or any other sort of disaster like the current pandemic hitting the world hard. It is important to buckle down and go into survival mode so that you can make it through to the other side.

    Time like these or any financial crisis are a great reason to pay off debt and a good reminder why we all budget and save emergency funds.

    Remember that storms don’t last forever and that kindness can be shared even without an income. Take care of yourself and those around you. 

  • Financial Steps For Coronavirus

    I wrote about how to handle uncertain times in the time of a global pandemic over the weekend, but today I want to specifically share more financial steps you can take during an emergency like Coronavirus. There are things you should do with your money to put yourself in a better position!

    how to handle money for coronavirus

    Only pay debt minimums

    Student loan interest is currently paused by the administration and while that is helpful, you should also cut back your debt repayment. If you have been throwing big amounts of money toward debt, now is the time to stop. Only pay your debt minimums when there is an emergency.

    Pay only the minimums on your debt and take all the extra money to save toward your emergency fun.

    Add to your emergency fund

    If you don’t have months of your income saved, now is the time to add to your emergency fund (while you still can, if you still can). You should work to add as much as you can while you have income coming in. We are in a national emergency so you should make this an emergency in your own financial life.

    The goal for your emergency fund should be 6 months of expenses, but if you’ve been paying off debt and only have $1,000 because of the advice of certain experts, then you should try to pile up as much as possible. Jobs will be lost and we are likely headed to a recession. Cash will be key and it is best to be on the side of caution.

    Negotiate your bills

    Some companies will be offering delays or deferrals if things get bad, but you can be proactive and negotiate bills right now to save extra money! You can call and as the provider if there is anything that can be done to lower the bill price overall. If true you should mention you are a loyal customer and never pay late but are thinking of switching. Many companies escalate these calls to teams designed to keep you by offering discounts.

    If never hurts to try and negotiating your bills can save you a lot of money every month! This is smart to do any time but majorly important in times of an emergency.

    Make or adjust your budget

    If you have never made a budget before then you should immediately make one to follow. If you have been budgeting, then you should make cuts and enact an emergency type budget.

    You can use apps, a spreadsheets, or my budgeting printables. Or you can write it on paper or a white board. However, you want to do it… make a plan for your money and start tracking where it goes to make sure you are following the plan. Being intentional with your spending is crucial during a downturn or emergency.

    Reduce your outings

    Due to the nature of coronavirus, staying home and not going out is a way to help the country as a whole make it through this emergency.

    Staying home will keep you safe and your neighbors safe, and it will also reduce your spending so you can save more of your money. Savings as much of your money as you can while staying home will help your ability to make it through this emergency.

    Save money on groceries

    There are a lot of ways to reduce grocery expenses but in these times we all need to also realized many people have gone above stockpiling to hoarding and created shortages as stores. Make meal plans based on essentials you already have and plan your meals around cheap staples like rice and beans (really, Uncle Dave has a point here!).

    You can also get discounts like $10 off a $50 Walmart pickup order via my referral link which can help you add up the amount you can buy with your money.

    Invest if you can handle it

    With all the volatility of the stock market, things are hard for casual investors or those new to investing in the stock market. If that is you or you don’t have an emergency fund, you should do all of the tips above first.

    However, if you are debt free with an emergency fund, now is a great time to invest. Stocks are deeply discounted due to panic selloffs and a fear of the recession to come. If you have money around to invest or have been investing already, it is a good time to invest in companies you believe in that you believe will have long futures and growth beyond this volatile season.

    If you are looking for invest platforms I like, I currently use all of the following (affiliate links):

    Stay calm and practice self care

    The final financial step to take is to stay calm. It can be a very anxious time right now but you don’t need to panic. Follow the best practices for your lifestyle and your money.

    Remember to take care of yourself so you are able to stay calm. Exercise. Eat healthy. Practice gratitude. Do deep breathing. Stretch and do a yoga routine. Take care of yourselves!

  • How To Handle Uncertain Times

    I recently shared a video with some of my thoughts about how we plan to weather the potential effects of the coronavirus as it sweeps through the United States. There is a lot of uncertainty right now and people are panicking and buying unnecessary supplies and generally don’t know how to act. While there is a need for concern and cautious, responsible action – there is no need to panic.

    I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me about stopping debt payments and if it’s ok to do or not. In the times of unprecedented issues, yes it’s ok. In fact when we see other countries completely shutting down and businesses closing for extended periods – it is necessary to prepare for a loss of income and to change our normal plans and routines.

    Be prepared, don’t panic.

    We recently started an emergency stockpile of supplies in our home because we saw this coming a few weeks ago. A couple weeks later people are starting to take this more seriously and people are panicking and buying all the supplies they can grab – leaving shelves empty and stopping others from being able to get the supplies they need.

    It is important to be prepared but there isn’t a need to panic and put others into a bad situation. Be smart about your purchases and take what you might need for a week or two at a time but don’t clear shelves.

    Pile up money for the storm.

    Emergency funds are super important and I admit we have been lax on rebuilding ours. Now I’m regretting that decision because… there is a storm coming. With many businesses already struggling and potential bigger effects coming in the weeks and months ahead – many of us have job loss worries. This is the time to have money saved or to pile up money as quickly as possible.

    For now that means we are going to stop paying our debt payments beyond the minimum. All extra money will be sent to our emergency fund. We would like to pile up as much as possible in case one of us loses a job. We would like to have a pile of money in case we have medical expenses. Money acts as security in times like this and we would like to build that security.

    Listen to the experts.

    Regarding this particular global pandemic, it is important to listen to the experts and those who are telling us how we can prevent making this worse. Experts are recommending hand washing and better hygiene practices along with social distancing to flatten the curve and reduce demand on our healthcare system.

    My company was ahead of the curve and sent nonessential employees to work from home, something they never have or never would have done in the past. Our school systems and our daycare has closed. As a family we are taking this to heart and practicing social distancing – not going out like we normally do and planning to stay at home for the most part.

    Remember that storms don’t last forever.

    Change can be comforting because it is the one constant thing we can count on. Change will come. Things may get worse before they get better but they will eventually get better. You can be prepared and plan to make it through the worst because no storm lasts forever.