Money Kuel Category Expert: Melissa Ternes
If you find yourself in the midst of financial uncertainty, here are three actions to take to bring more peace into the situation.
Step One: Know Your Numbers And Protect Your Cash.
Make a list of everything you need to pay in the next 30-60 days. It doesn’t matter how you list it, a pen and sticky note or a fancy spreadsheet. It only matters that you make the list. Now look at what money you have coming in. Will it cover what needs to go out?
Make your minimum payments on everything, if possible. Take any amount over the minimum you would have paid and set it aside in savings. This way you have extra cash on hand. You have it available to either make additional payments in a few months or have it available to sustain other parts of your life, and business, if needed.
The other way to protect your cash is to use credit wisely. Spending today on credit cards requires future cash to pay the balance. Depending on the financial situation, basic necessities may need to be paid for on credit cards and that’s ok.
However, it is easy to get caught in the trap of trying to buy certainty in uncertain times. It’s so easy to get caught in the retail therapy trap too. Be mindful of impulse shopping as an escape from all the uncertainty going on. The reason it feels good is your body gets a dopamine hit from shopping. Dopamine is one of the “feel good” chemicals. Look for other ways to give your brain the “feel good” it’s looking; like getting enough sleep, exercise, meditation, listening to music, and get enough sunlight.
“Apply for any assistance available.”
Step Two: Ask For What You Need.
Where appropriate, begin by letting family and friends know how you are feeling (anything from just a bit concerned, uncertain, unsettled, nervous, or anxious). By letting other’s in on your feelings you keep them from wondering what is going on, and likely preempt tension in the relationship.
Apply for any assistance available. Everything from unemployment, to grants, to help with food. I can hear you now, but…but…but… these programs are in place for this exact reason, to help you in a time of need. It is better to ask for help than to struggle when help is available to you.
Follow this by calling lenders and service providers to ask what options are available. You can request anything from deferring payments, to reducing interest rates – everything is fair game to ask. State the specific reason, most likely COVID-19, you are requesting the additional time or waiver. If it is pandemic related, say so. Many companies have put in place new options or extra help and most of the people answering the phones can relate to what you are going through.
“Expect rollercoaster emotions, they are normal in times of financial uncertainty.”
Step Three: Protect Your Mindset And Feel Your Emotions.
Breathe. Ten deep breaths can do wonders! Breathing is an excellent way to bring yourself back to a more peaceful place to make decisions. And from this place, ask yourself, will I be glad or sad, happy or mad, I made this choice in a year and in five years? Remember, rash, emotional financial decisions rarely end well in the long-term.
Expect rollercoaster emotions, they are normal in times of financial uncertainty. Feel your feelings and allow them to pass through. It is key to acknowledge the disappointments and grieve the losses – all of them from financial to experiential. You have suffered disappointments and loss, we all have, from missed vacations and graduations, to the freedom to go and do, to loved ones lost.
Know that this will end and the more positive steps you can take today the better you will be on the other side of the uncertainty. Once the financial uncertainty has settled some, use this experience as a stepping stone to getting your financial life in order.
About the Author:
Melissa Ternes is a financial empowerment coach, author, serial entrepreneur, wife, dog mom and lover of travel. Melissa is based in Raleigh, North Carolina and when she’s not out speaking or teaching, she’s seeking an adventure on the “pretty blue water” of Belize with her husband and adventure companion, Wayne. You can connect with Melissa on LinkedIn and check-out her website at Master Your Money Now.