Finance Guides

Thriving with your finances post lock down-notes from my diary

As a generation that has experienced this tide, we are very privileged, this specifically points at the lock down and not the health related challenges of COVID 19 as this is still here with us for probably longer than we can predict.

COVID 19 has largely been associated with lock-down of different economies in both wealthy and low-income countries alike. The impact of which has been felt at both individual and group level. It is not any story that families have gone through rough and reflective days of the lock-down especially with regards to finances. In the recent past however, governments have had to announce phased approaches to ease the lock down measures, there is an equal measure of anxiety concerning going back to work, business operations, reopening of schools, etc. However, what stays uncertain is the environment in which operations will be undertaken in the new normal.

As a generation that has experienced this tide, we are very privileged, this specifically points at the lock down and not the health related challenges of COVID 19 as this is still here with us for probably longer than we can predict. The Lock-downs have given us a sneak peek into what the overrated retirement may look like when the time comesearly or late, forced or as per age requirements. This is hinged on facts such as some people have lost jobs never to get them back and thus rudely getting their welcome to the retirement bracket. For many who had been working for several years, it’s been a wakeup call as savings (if any) were severely encroached on and by the second month the anxiety levels were rising as fear and worry became the better of us.

If saving money is a challenge for you, there are two main ways to save more. First, you can earn more money. Secondly, you can cut down on expenses. Easier said than done, right? But that is really as straightforward as the answer gets. Cutting down is something you can do immediately. Increasing income may take a bit more time, effort, and resources; but the combination of the two strategies really creates a powerhouse opportunity that may improve your financial security.

First things first; setting up and following your budget may also help you see your total savings grow over time. It is easy to appreciate that increased savings helps you attain financial security and reach your personal lifestyle goals.

Through this article, I wish to share some of the learning that can be implemented to steer this storm for generations to come; I couple my experiences during the lockdown with my career lessons and share a blend from a simple lay person’s perspective.

Needs and wants: Away from this are the terms essential and nonessential, in these lie the first lesson. The realization that I can live comfortably with the little available and that convenience stores are designed to promote consumerism. My shopping budget has significantly reduced by half, yet I have been enjoying a balanced diet at a fraction of the usual budget. Processed foods with sugars, salt and fats are convenient in all the supermarkets and takeaways around us, appear cheaper and easy to access but have long term health effects.

Thriving with your finances post lock down-notes from my diary

TIP: Re-allocate a portion of your pre-COVID supermarket budget to savings.

Ability to exercise consistently and on a budget – in my pre-covid days, I would pay annual gym membership to access different amenities but hardly got the time to make it to the gym due to many factors/excuses if you may. During the last 2 months, I have been able to maintain physical fitness by eating right, taking family walks and engaging in home sports with my family.

TIP: Identify creative and fun ways to maintain physical fitness at minimal cost.

 Managing worries relating to kids returning to school: Parents are nervous about kids missing a whole school year, but they are also not sure they want to risk their kid’s health if schools open. In South Africa, citizens have asked the Government to open bars instead of schools, so that adults test the gravity of the virus first instead of sacrificing their children. On the other hand, some schools have embraced new ways of teaching through online platforms, and who knows, education in this part of the world may be undergoing a revolution. The days of waking up kids at ungodly hours, chaos in the morning traffic jams may be behind us. If parents embraced the need to aid the learners while at home, doing homework together, we could shape, evaluate and critique our education system and together be proud of the outcomes. Investing ina reliable home internet solution is no longer a luxury but an enabler to make this transition successful.

TIP: Be involved in your children’s education, it is not only cheaper but also keeps you mentally sharp as well as improves your communication with the young ones.

Affordable social events: While I recognize the campaign for social distancing, I think it was wrongly coined, going by the explanations given I strongly believe the intention was physical distancing. Through this call we have witnessed scientific weddings, birthdays, graduations and even funerals. Meetings that drain families due to a need for lavish expenditures in such events as was the case before COVID 19 have been avoided.

TIP: These examples have not in any way diluted the ultimate intentions for which they are organized, and essential families have actively engaged without strain. As a witness to some of such events I wish this practice continues post lock down.

Facing Day 1 after Lock-down: The month of June 2020 may appear like a 60 day month (like January after December holidays), don’t panic. Your health is your wealth, put your best foot forward and start all over again. Now that we know the importance of saving for a rainy day, let’s be deliberate with the way we handle our finances – have the end in mind. Set your financial goals, create a budget, seek an expert’s help, allocate your income, and review your progress regularly.

TIP: Do not fear to start again, you have the entire user guide for life after lock-down given the experiences you have ably gone through.

Virtual transactions: Pre COVID clearly exhibited public fear for virtual transactions. However, for both public health and ease of transacting during the COVID times have made Mobile money and digital transactions to become commonplace. I don’t miss paper money at all and neither do I crave visiting malls and arcades. I recommend we all embrace digital payment platforms, not only are they convenient and time saving, but they also give us an audit trail of all our expenses.

TIP: Digitization is a new normal and your early on-boarding shall save you money and travel related risks. However, always take caution since this space has some opportunists.

Vehicles are not a symbol of success and social acclaim: Watching people’s cars parked in their compounds depreciating in value has been a wake up call. If you have a car loan, you have witnessed firsthand negative cash flow (paying off car loan obligations, yet the car is not fulfilling the intended purpose); this calls for some hard decisions post lock down. We now know that if you are not working far from home, the bike is a handy solution and investing in one is a good idea that comes with a double benefit of transport and exercising.

TIP: Trade in your fuel guzzler into an efficient vehicle that will get you from one place to another.

Mortgage? Think twice: That dream house should never cost you a life. For many who are sleeping in houses that are owned by the bank (mortgaged), it is high time you explored avenues to pay off the debts quickly and gain financial security.

TIP: Today’s decisions have everything to do with tomorrow. Be wise and make informed decisions especially if you must tag finances.

The backyard garden: I cannot recall the many times this has been my close balanced diet ally. With the curfew and movement restrictions I just turned to the backyard and picked those greens. This made my meal complete. I believe that every home should have this backyard garden. Having stayed home long enough like never, I noticed a residential home doesn’t serve one sole purpose of providing sleep as the corporate world has allowed me to believe. Just like the world is, a residence should be entirely well fitted with all aspects that support a comfortable life without an extra expenditure added to it.

TIP: A backyard garden is a great idea to add to your residential plan, as you plan for the car park, plan the backyard garden.

Generally, try considering these coping strategies as well.
❖ Know that you are not alone. Many others are feeling stressed and anxious right now, Act.
❖ Stop beating yourself up that you should feel happy or should not be sad.
❖ Stop comparing yourself to others, Run Your Race.
❖ Take the time to honor your reality. Self-awareness is critical when dealing with emotional issues.
Ask for help. Connect with family and friends and if you feel your mental health is suffering, contact a professional.
All hope is not lost, let us look for the silver lining in this dark cloud to ease the stress and anxiety.

‘Be willing to take the first step, no matter how small it is. Concentrate on the fact that you are willing to learn. Absolute miracles will happen’, Louise Hay

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