Today’s post comes from special guest writer Jim McKinley from the financial blog Money With Jim. In the follow post, Jim shares a few of his best ideas on making the most of one of your most precious resources – your cash.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing financial stress for a lot of people. Creating and maintaining a livable budget can help ensure you’re using your money wisely, tracking your income, cutting costs, and looking for ways to supplement cash flow as needed. It’s also a good time to perform an insurance check-up for your home, life, and business, to prepare in the event the unexpected happens.
If you don’t already have a household budget, now is the time to create one. The Federal Trade Commission offers a free worksheet. Make a list of all essential expenditures like your mortgage, car payment, credit card debt, and other financial obligations. Next, make a list of nonessential items, like dining out, subscriptions you rarely use, and expenditures you can forego, like car washes, housekeeping, hobbies, and entertainment. After you cut expenses to the bone, according to Experian, you should try to set aside a cash fund that covers at least three-to-six months of living expenses (which can vary depending on your particular life stage). This will help cover you in the event you suffer an injury, job loss, theft, or some type of unexpected expense or financial shortfall.
Have A Sale
Now is a good time to go through your home, garage, attic, and storage sheds, and clear out anything you no longer want or need. Not only does a good, thorough deep cleaning of your home make you feel more centered, decluttering also serves a mental purpose and can actually be beneficial to family dynamics. If people are starting to get on each other’s nerves and you’re experiencing a lot of arguing or critical commentary, injecting some positivity into your environment can help manage everyday irritations, as well as financial stress. Once you’ve cleaned everything out, look at valuable items you might be able to sell to make extra money to pad your emergency fund.
Join The Gig Economy
The gig economy – the new term for freelance and side jobs – represents an opportunity for people to work in part-time and flexible “as needed” capacities in a number of different categories. The benefit of this type of situation is, you can typically work whenever you want, as your schedule permits, and your financial needs require. Some options for gig economy jobs include ride-share driving, food delivery, and shopping for others. This type of work will make you an independent contractor, so keeping good records of your business expenditures will help you offset earnings when it’s time to file your taxes.
Capitalize on a Hobby
If you have a knack for interior design, building custom cabinetry, making jewelry, or fixing cars, you could turn your hobby or side gig into a money-making business venture. Think about skill sets you have that are related to, or outside of your profession, and look for ways to capitalize on the side. A simple website, a notice on social media, or an outreach to family and friends can help jumpstart your operation and improve your financial outlook.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of financial anxiety for everyone, but keeping track of your expenses, making a smart budget, cutting back when necessary, and supplementing your income when you need to can help you stay on the right track. Don’t be afraid to reach out to creditors if cash flow dwindles. Ask for reductions in your interest rate, or for deferment of payment if your financial situation changes unexpectedly. Staying in touch will help ensure you protect your credit rating through financial hardship.
Jim McKinley is a retired banker with almost 30 years of experience in the financial world. He created Money with Jim to share his advice and other resources on a variety of financial topics.