Finally, it seems that enough Americans are vaccinated to enable a re-opening and the start into the post-pandemic time. This is a reason for hope and optimism, but I have observed that there is a lot of uncertainty and doubt about it: While the pandemic was a challenging time and we all wanted to get "back-to-the-normal" as quickly as possible, many people are unsure about how this new normal will look like and how to prepare their finances for it.
Planning your finances might be different now because:
You have adjusted your lifestyle during the pandemic and you are not sure which of those adjustments will stay for a longer period of time. Maybe you started a new hobby only with the idea of being temporary, but you like it that much you want to keep it. Or you discovered you do not miss activities which were important to you earlier.
You might have lost or changed your job - or you plan to change it. If you are without a job, your disposable income will drop with the unemployment benefits.
You cooked more at home during the pandemic, but you don't know yet how soon and much you will return to eating out.
Your employer might ask you to return to the office - impacting costs for commute, eating out, dry cleaning, and child-care.
You have been able to save money during the pandemic due to the reduced living costs. You are worried that you will spend too much (again) after the re-opening.
Taken all the smaller and bigger factors into account, it might feel overwhelming to make a plan for your finances. However, it is important to take the time and reflect on the situation, as we always have to do with major life changes. Although each individual situation is different, this checklist gives you some guideline on the subjects to focus on:
Review and reflect on your current financial situation and spending habit. Without any doubt, your spending pattern during the last year has been different compared to the "old normal". What have been your biggest changes? Try to think back and compare your life then and now, don't dig into account statements and budget numbers yet. Most likely the things coming to your mind this way are the most important ones for you.
Write down your observations and classify them as positive or negative changes.
Define your overall financial goals. Maybe your values and long-term goals have changed, so you should re-assess them. Try to keep up with some (new) good spending habits: going to the grocery store only with a list and less often, have a clear budget for dining out.
Resist the temptation to catch up on everything at one time and get into an overspending pattern. Plan a for regular life, not for a crazy party. Limit your entertainment activities to the one you missed most and do not blindly add everything back.
Now it is time to dig into the details and prepare a budget. You can do this by comparing your recent spending pattern and your pre-pandemic one. Based on that comparison and your priorities defined in the steps before, you should be able to get a realistic budget for the future. You might read this article for more details: https://www.smartdailyservices.com/post/a-10-step-plan-for-updating-your-budget-during-covid19
Do not forget savings: You need an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. In addition, it is a good habit of saving regularly by setting up auto-save, even if the amount is only a little.
Beyond those steps, it is a good time to review your investments, debts, and mortgage. Maybe you should rebalance your portfolio or refinance your mortgage? Talk with an expert about it.
And if you feel the time pressure of life before Covid coming back, you might prevent getting stressed by outsourcing some tasks. Start with the things you do not like doing by yourself: cleaning, food preparation, driving children, gardening, or money management. Hiring a money manager can be a smart move to stay up-to-date on your finances and having your time available for more enjoyable activities. Read more about the benefits of a Daily Money Manager: https://www.smartdailyservices.com/post/daily-money-managers-how-we-can-help-busy-families-professionals-and-retirees-during-covid19-time
"Prepare your finances for the post-pandemic time" will be the topic of our July zoom-meeting of the "Money Talk with a Daily Money Manager"-series hosted by Rita Kuehnis, SDS Smart Daily Services LLC. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 15th from 6 - 7 pm PST. Registe