2020 really isn’t going how we thought it would, is it? The year, and the decade, began with such promise. But the current coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown have made colossal changes for many of us. Even those of us lucky enough not to have become infected or have a close family member affected by the virus will have faced significant disruption in other ways. Many of us have been forced to take a pay cut of at least 20%. Our days have been transformed by working from home while also juggling the needs of the whole household. And that’s if you’re lucky enough to still have a job, as many employers have unceremoniously ditched their workforce to insulate their profits.
Still, at least we’re getting the quality time to spend in the garden that we were hoping for. We Brits tend not to stay down for too long. There’s always a bright side to be found and a lesson to be learned. And for the cost-conscious and financially savvy person there are a lot of important money lessons to be learned from the coronavirus pandemic. For instance…
Your household budget really is your best friend
Healthy household finances start and end with a comprehensive and well thought out household budget. A budget that accounts for all the spending, large and small, that ebbs away at our bank balance throughout the month. Everything from the chocolate bar you bought on your lunch break on a stressful Monday to drinks with the girls after work can add up throughout the month, and careful budgeting can help families stay proactive when it comes to their finances. This is something that I used to help people with, in a previous work life, and my brain still works in an analytical way when it comes to budgeting.
In these uncertain times, when many of us have less income to go around, all that experience managing our budgets is coming in mighty useful about now. What’s more, with pubs, bars, restaurants and coffee shops closing their doors, there are fewer temptations and more opportunities to make our food budgets go further with some good old fashioned home cooking. Still, services like Deliveroo ensure that we can still enjoy an occasional treat to keep our favourite local restaurants afloat.
Your home really is the best investment
Now that we’re all spending a lot more time inn pours, we’re learning that there’s no such thing as over-investing in our own homes. Well, within reason. Even if we have no desire to sell our properties in the immediate future, we always tend to look at household renovations and repairs in terms of how much they add resale value or salability to our home when the time comes to move on. Still, that’s not the only kind of value you make when you repair, renovate and redecorate your home. You also get to enjoy the feeling of happiness, security and belonging that you can’t get anywhere else.
So, why not use this to invest further in your home. Whether this means taking advantage of the low interest rates to remortgage your property and pay your mortgage off faster, or simply investing time and effort into redecorating, rearranging and re-evaluating your feng shui to increase the value you get out of your home. After all, for many of us, it’s not just our home anymore, it’s also our workplace.
There are always new investment opportunities
Your home isn’t the only investment you should be thinking about right now. Many financially savvy Mums supplement their savings with investment in stocks and shares or other commodities like Forex or, of course, rental properties. Mums who invest may find the current investment landscape forbidding and scary. Still, resist the urge to panic sell your stocks. Instead, think of opportunities where you can catch the bottom now and ride as the markets return to normalcy.
This might be the perfect opportunity to invest in a holiday home or a property overseas. To buy townhouse Malaysia (how cool would that be) or an apartment in the Mediterranean. Or perhaps you might want to look at investing in a growth market that’s actually been stimulated by the current pandemic. Now is a great time to invest in medical tech companies, for instance. Or maybe the relative stability of cryptocurrencies at this time will convince you to round out your investment portfolio with a little bit o’ Bitcoin?
Even when it feels like the world is falling apart around you, there are always new investment opportunities.
Panic buying is sheer false economy
Even the most level headed of us can panic at times like these. Especially when the high street appears to be shutting down and supermarkets become flooded with people desperate to feed their families. Still, if the past few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that panic buying is a sheer false economy. Aside from being selfish and potentially keeping vulnerable people from getting the essentials they need, it doesn’t do your finances any favours, either.
In uncertain times, you need to be able to access your money. You need to maintain liquidity. But when you sink your disposable income into more toilet roll than you can ever hope to use in a year, or so much pasta that you could send the whole of Sardina into a carb coma you deprive your household of liquidity. As such, the money that could help you out of a crisis has been sunk into goods that you never really needed after all.
The more liquidity (cash) you have at your disposal, the less you need to rely on credit cards and other forms of household debt.
Small businesses deserve our money more than ever
Finally, another lesson we’re learning about what to do with our money is who really deserves it. Unfortunately, the past few weeks have seen a lot of unscrupulous practices from big businesses. Whether it’s naked profiteering or failing to do right by their staff. Maybe in the post-coronavirus economy we’ll all think a little harder about supporting ethical businesses and supporting the plucky small businesses who’ve struggled but found innovative ways to stay afloat in a fast changing market.