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A disaster like no other. Nobody saw it coming and boy did it hit like a ton of bricks! Shattered hopes for some. Broken dreams for many; and then there are those whose hearts will never be the same.
Without a doubt, the coronavirus pandemic is the single largest disaster to rock the globe in the 21st century, and apart from the obvious threat to our lives and those of our loved ones, our finances is our biggest concern- understandably so because we do need money to survive in a capitalist society. What can we do to cushion the blow, to weather the storm, if you will? Here are four general actions you can take right now to improve your financial situation.
First though, recognise that the ultimate priority is life. Yours and mine. So take a deep breath, look at yourself, look at your family and be grateful that you have life. We are all in this together and should be committed to observing all the protocols to ensure that lives are preserved.
So here are the four things you can do to improve your financial situation right now.
- REDUCE YOUR SPENDING. If there ever is a time to be thrifty, it is now. Many people have intuitively cut back on their spending during this period- notwithstanding the fact that the closure of some facilities have limited people’s ability to spend; however, there are many who are still spending more than they need to. Take one essential area of life, as an example, shopping for food. All grocery stores (supermarkets) are NOT equal and when it comes to cost of food products, you SHOULD care. From my (very recent) assessment, a major supermarket chain in Jamaica was selling the very same grocery items at a higher cost ranging from J$1o- over J$100 when compared to a competitor (a cup noodle soup was being sold for J$20.96 more-excluding taxes). Ten or even twenty dollars may not seem like much, but when you are buying in bulk and you multiply that by a large quantity, your potential savings quickly run into the thousands. Apart from shopping at a cost effective location, shopping smart will also reduce your spending. How? Well, buy preparing a grocery list ahead of time, including only items that you will need, and buying cheaper brands. Even in this essential area of life, there are ways to reduce spending, so it’s definitely worth looking into.Generally speaking, the best way to track your spending is by preparing a budget and it’s very easy to do- just write out all your expenses and compare it with your income. The object is to identify where your money is going and determine which costs can be cut.
- ACCEPT HELP. Most, if not all, governments around the world have responded to the crisis by providing a stimulus package to cushion the financial blows. If your income has been affected, you are likely eligible to benefit. So pay attention, follow the instructions and claim the benefit you are eligible to claim.
- ASK FOR HELP . Desperate times call for desperate measures. Everyone knows that there is a crisis, and is aware that is it taking a financial toll on people. If your income has been disrupted and you simple cannot afford to cover your basic expenses, ask for help. Speak to your landlord. Write (email) your power supply company. After all, what’s the worse that could happen? Reaching out to your debtors at the very minimum sends a message of responsibility and does appeal to the humanity that is somewhere in all of us-even big companies.
- FIND A NEW JOB. This might seem a bit ridiculous in such a time, or you may have thought about it, but don’t know where to start. Either way, I’m here to remind you that in every crisis, there is an opportunity. Apart from the fact that some essential service providers might be employing at this time, there are opportunities for you to create a job. As a start, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people have been earning an income online for many years, so I would encourage you to look into it. HINT HINT- the world around us is changing!
So there you have it, four actions you can take right now to improve your financial situation and financial outlook. As a general rule, learn to prioritize, reduce waste and be innovative. Be open to possibilities and who knows, you might come up with a genius idea to fix all your financial woes.
There’s much more to each of the four actions discussed in this article and we will definitely cover them in more details later on, so be sure to come back.