Depending on what part of the country you live in, the Coronavirus may either be a worrying news headline or the thing that’s shutting down your child’s school for the next two weeks. There is no doubt though that fears around the virus are ramping up daily. It’s already shut down popular festivals like SXSW and has been cited as the catalyst for some pretty steep drops in the market this week.
We don’t believe in hype or acting out of fear. In fact, as financial coaches, one of the things we do best is to help our clients prepare for life’s whammies, so in a moment of panic, you’re prepared financially to act rationally. We wanted to share some ideas, guidance, and strategies we’re discussing with clients during this time. We hope you find it helpful whether the coronavirus is impacting you directly or not.
Advice from your financial coaches
Concerns about the virus are impacting our clients’ vacation plans, financial goals, retirement savings, and paychecks. What should you do if you see a reduction in pay, are unable to plan ahead financially, or you’re feeling disappointed because your trip to the Almalfi Coast is officially a no go? Here are 7 tips.
- Place greater emphasis on flexibility.
If you think there’s even a small chance that your income could be affected by the Coronavirus, we recommend pausing your financial goals temporarily and stockpiling some cash in your emergency savings account. Clients of ours who work in the tradeshow or travel industries are already seeing drops in their income.
Pausing your goals may cost you some interest on a credit card but think about that interest as the cost of providing yourself with options should something happen. Believe it or not, pausing financial goals is one of the hardest things for our clients to do. They don’t want to stop making progress, and I don’t blame them. But if you pay everything extra to your debt this week and next week your company reduces your hours, you really didn’t make progress anyway. Once the dust settles (because I choose to believe it will), you can throw all that money back to your goal and feel proud that you were prepared for either possibility.
- Be proactive: Call your vendors and stay in communication
If your income has already been affected and you find yourself unable to pay your bills, it’s a scary time. You may even feel ashamed. Most people, when faced with shame, go into avoidance mode and that’s the last thing I want you to do right now. Be proactive. Stay in communication with your vendors, and try as hard as you can to stay on top of everything you can.
- Be mindful of how you’re thinking and feeling.
Even if your current paychecks are not being affected, you may experience other changes in how you think and feel about your money right now. One thing you may read or hear is how companies are reassessing their future earnings projections. They simply can’t predict where revenues or profits will land in the coming quarter of this year while we are in this “unknown state” with the coronavirus.
Our clients are feeling the same way. You have financial goals and a plan to accomplish them, but that plan doesn’t feel as steady as it once did. Are you experiencing a bit of “uneasiness”? Perhaps your confidence in the immediate future isn’t on solid footing and you feel your perspective shifting slightly. Or if you’re feeling anxious, you may find yourself spending money in order to make yourself feel better. Pay attention to how your spending may be triggered by what’s going on around you.
- Stay positive.
We know that is easier said than done. But “this too, shall pass.” Once those paychecks start coming back in, you’ll want to hit the ground running. Make an action list along with a list of vendors, amounts due, and due dates if you fell behind on any payments. Once you have cash flowing back in, know what you have to tackle so you can get to it right away.
- Prepare for what you can.
Things might be out of our control when worry and fear are guiding peoples’ decisions around us, but that doesn’t mean everything is out of our control. And it doesn’t mean you too should react out of worry or fear.
Educate yourself on the symptoms of the virus. Identify the hospital nearest to you and understand its recommendations to people in your area. Many hospitals have updated protocols on their website so you know where to go (which entrance for example) should you start to feel sick. Also, consider telehealth services (where you talk to a doctor remotely, by video or phone, first) when available. We won’t claim to be health experts, but we are always proponents of educating yourself and being prepared.
- Dare I say it: Stay off the news
I know my worry and paranoia can get heightened by the news. I try not to fixate on updating my social media feeds to get the latest news and only check specific sources when I’m in a good headspace. You can read the CDC’s guidelines for employers and businesses here. And you can stay up to date on Coronavirus updates by clicking here. Understand who is considered high risk for Coronavirus complications. Again, educate yourself from reliable sources not the talking heads on cable news.
- Learn from this.
The best thing we can do when something bad happens is to ask ourselves: How can I prevent this going forward? Now, you and I can’t possibly prevent a global pandemic or predict when mass layoffs will occur, but can we be ready for what is known. That way when the unexpected happens, we are more equipped to deal with it.
- Ask for help. (Bonus tip!)
I know this can be really challenging for many. Should your income be impacted, there are organizations, community groups, churches, and assistance available to you. I hope you will take advantage of it if you’re struggling.
If you are simply worried and anxious, talk with your financial coach about what you can do to create more financial stability and peace of mind. You are worthy of receiving help.