Welcome to 2020, a year when tragedy is all we see and the economy continues to find new ways to tank. Nothing about these times is normal. It feels like we’re living through a whole chapter in the history books of the future.
How can anyone make sense of it? Uncertainty is the only certainty anymore, and it’s hard to find many people with true financial security and stability at a time like this. But no matter what your current situation is like, there are a few actions you can take to put your family in the best position to withstand the fallout.
While recognizing there are many, many things you can — and should — do to safeguard your bank accounts, the following are three great financial tips that will help anyone prepare their family for this strange new economy.
1. Keep Working from Home
It’s hard to forecast anything at this point. Who knows what the rest of 2020 will hold — or even 2021? But, in general, it seems that things are not going to completely change back to how they were before any time soon. This does seem like a new normal at least for the foreseeable future. So, if you’ve been working from home and this remains an option, push to continue doing so as long as possible. Keeping this up until next year is already the formal plan for many companies. And it definitely makes sense for most people to extend their policy.
You may be bouncing off the walls a bit. But you are probably saving money on transportation as well as eating out at lunch — not to mention coffees, snacks, and other small purchases at the office that add up. Childcare demands can complicate matters, but having no commute should also free up time for exercise, eating healthier, and other family benefits. So if you can keep this up, there may be a lot of benefits.
2. Get Access to More Credit
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that our economy is a lot more fragile than we thought. We now know massive disruptions can happen at any time. While the worst of the shutdown and health crisis will hopefully be in the past by the end of the year, this should forever make you rethink what financial security really means. You should probably save a bit more and cut down on needless expenses going forward.
Another great way to protect your family is by increasing your access to credit. This doesn’t mean you should necessarily use this extra access. Living with more debt is never a good idea. But given all the layoffs and chaos, who’s to say something on this scale couldn’t happen again in a few years? If it does, it will be very helpful to have an extra credit card as a backstop. And even if we never see any catastrophe like this again, cards from providers like USAA offer great rewards and benefits that you can take advantage of regardless while responsibly building your credit score.
3. Adopt a Low-Risk Mindset
In normal times, if you didn’t love your job, you might think about leaving for something else. That may still be possible. But you should think long and hard before making a big move right now. If what you currently have is stable and it isn’t actively awful, it might be a great option to stay for the next 12-18 months. Who knows how much longer this economic fallout will linger? You don’t want to leave your life boat for a better one — only to find out that it just sprung a leak. Any port in a storm, as they say.
Along similar lines, your savings are your friend right now. You may want to upgrade your boring car. But do you actually have to? It’s probably better not to spend unnecessarily on big items at the moment. A lot of people are taking this mentality and consumer demand remains low. As far as investments, there may be some other opportunities lurking. Those are certainly tempting. But be very careful. Lots of very smart people have lost lots of money trying to time a market turn.
Doing What You Can to Protect Your Family
With so many layoffs and so many businesses — big and small — going under, those of us who still have a stable job might be the lucky ones. Nobody has ever seen anything like this and we don’t know when it will end.
This means you need to watch out for you family first and do your best to maintain financial security. Working from home, if possible, is a helpful strategy to save you some expenses and time. Getting access to more credit will help if you do find yourself in a rough situation down the line. And adopting a risk-averse mindset and holding off on big purchases is probably the prudent thing to do in general right now.
Hopefully, this new normal won’t last forever. In 10 years, we could all look back at these crazy times and wonder how we lived like this and dealt with all the chaos. For now, however, you just need to be patient and take some common-sense tips.