In the almost 3 weeks of Shelter-In-Place, we have gone from the initial shock to gradual acceptance. These are life changing moments, and it is important that we take the time to process. Now that we had the chance to take in and absorb what is happening in the world, I felt that it’s the right time now to shift our focus from panic and confusion to clarity and opportunities.
To help you stay grounded and expansive, here are 3 things that you can focus on right now:
- Take care of the basics – this first step is about helping you to navigate through the initial impact so you don’t drown in the ocean of fear and paralysis. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the most basic needs are physiological for survival. These include food, shelter, clothing, etc. Given the current circumstances where our basic living & work arrangements have been altered and constricted, for some people, these changes are forcing them to face the uncertainty of this first level basic needs. Get clear on our numbers so we understand the magnitude of the impact. (Sometimes, the simple fact of not knowing brings unnecessary stress).
- Do a calculation of all expenses that are ESSENTIAL to live, do not include discretionary spendings.
- Estimate the monthly income for the next 2 months. Determine your monthly cash flow (income – essential expenses).
- Review your savings. If your monthly cash flow from step #1 is negative, then determine how long your savings will sustain your negative cash flow. Example, if you have a negative cash flow of $1000/mo, and you have $5000 in savings, then you have 5 months of being in a negative cash flow before you money completely runs out. Knowing this is important because it gives you the timeline to find solutions.
- Find potential sources for additional income to fill the gap: the $2 trillion stimulus package from the government, negotiation with your banks and landlord, personal loans from family members if possible, find additional side jobs (this may require some out of box thinking – look at what’s needed out there, and how you can help. this could be something completely different from what you have been doing).
- Boost your stability – if you currently don’t have a 12-month emergency fund reserve, it may be time to get started. You may think: “I’m having a hard time having my basic needs met, and you want me to create an emergency fund right now?” My answer is Yes! Even if you are having to find additional side jobs to supplement your income, it is critical to start the practice. Times like this underscores the importance of having mindful money habits. if you didn’t do that during good times, do it now. If all of your savings/assets are in investment accounts, this is also a good time to review and potentially rearrange your asset positions, without selling based on fear! What you want to avoid is fire sale of your investments under stress. In essence:
- If you are tight with cash now, even if it’s putting $10 or $50 aside each month, start today! Putting the practice in place is more important than the actual dollar amount.
- If you have extra money left over each month and you normally put them into your investment accounts, but you don’t have a cash reserve account of 12-months living expenses set aside, start one now. The idea is to protect your investment assets from fire sale at huge loss when there is a cash crunch.
- Look for opportunities – we are being forced to slow down. Have you ever said to yourself “I would love to do that when I have more time” or “I’ll change when I have time”? Now is your chance! Maybe it’s time to:
- research a new career path if you haven’t been happy with what you are currently doing
- re-package your services & offerings in your business to address current needs
- take an inventory of what you current have, your talent, your resources, and see if there are new ways to generate income based on what’s in front of you
- take some online classes to venture into a new area of your life
Whatever aspirations you may have had, take this time to explore! As you go through this exploration process, pay attention to where the future needs will be. Our life as we knew it before COVID-19 may be fundamentally altered and our ability to adapt to change is the key to survive and strive!
No one really knows when the virus will pass or when the economy will bounce back to a healthy state. These are external factors that we have no control over. Here is my parting thought & question:
Are you going to sit on the sideline and wait for things to pass, or are you going to dance in the sea of change?
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