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It’s been well over a year since the pandemic started, and the economies of most countries are showing signs of slow recovery. Many countries have lifted some pandemic restrictions and every day there are more travelers are back on the road around the globe.
While most people are eager to dive headfirst into post-pandemic life, that also means you will be spending more money on activities that you may not have done in a while; like going to the movies, the theatre, eating out or traveling.
But before you start living the “real life” again and spending money, there are a few things you should take into consideration to prepare your finances.
As life is slowly starting to go back to normal, take your time to understand where you stand financially. That means that you need to have a clear picture of what you own and what you owe.
One of the things you should be doing is reviewing older bank and credit card statements, retirement and investment accounts, and knowing what your monthly bills and expenses are.
What you need is to understand how certain purchases and expenses are going to impact you in the long run, but also, how they will affect your financial goals.
Review your paychecks and understand how much income you’re bringing in and if you’re optimizing any tax or employer benefits available to you. For example, if you live in the US, be sure to check your eligibility for the federal Child Tax Credit or if your employer offers a match of your 401(k) contributions.
From there, your budget reassessment starts. For example, you could reallocate your funds toward spending on food or household items, or pinpointing ways to curb your spending.
Make sure you anticipate new expenses and former expenses that were put on pause during the pandemic, like traveling or childcare.
If you are planning to start spending on something that’s been on hold while you were stuck inside, that money will be coming from somewhere else in your budget.
Fine-tuning your financial goals
Your budget aside, you should be taking a long look at your financial goals, and determine if they are in line with your financial situation, and have realistic expectations.
The tough period behind us might have forced you to put off financial milestones, such as buying your first car or buying a home. Or perhaps, you tapped into your savings to help pay off debts.
Whatever the financial situation you’re in, after readjusting your spending and saving with your brand new budget, you will need to reevaluate your goals and make priorities.
As things slowly return to normal, it’s a good opportunity to hit reset on the way you spend.
List your goals under short-term and long-term categories so you can better visualize which financial goals are more important.
Some of the goals you set could be saving for retirement, creating an emergency fund, paying off credit card debt, or starting a new business.
Once you have a clear picture of your financial goals, you can make sure you’re not spending more money than you should.
Use cash or debit cards instead of credit cards
As we all know too well, it’s tempting to want to swipe your credit card from time to time to make certain purchases, but if you’re not careful, you could end up with massive debt.
You should use your credit card only if you can make the full payment every month. If that isn’t the case, you should have a plan to pay it off within a short period of time.
You can also try using your debit card or cash instead of your credit card.
Prepare emergency savings
Unexpected things can happen at any moment in life, and when they do, you want to be prepared.
That’s why having an emergency fund is paramount. It can help you cover expenses you didn’t plan for when making your budgets, like medical expenses, job loss, or car repairs.
Most financial experts will tell you that you should have at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses saved. If you haven’t already created an emergency fund, savings should take priority over anything trivial you have already planned for yourself.
Financially planning ahead is the key to prepare for the post-pandemic reality we will be living in. If you are careful and have a clear plan, the days ahead will not be stressful and hard.
To your success!