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How To Deal With Financial Stress During COVID-19

by | May 1, 2020

COVID-19 has changed our world as we know it. Practically, no matter where you live in the US, the coronavirus has turned Americans’ lives upside down or, at the bare minimum, cause some real disruptions to everyday life. 

Getting just a snippet of news can make you feel your blood pressure rise. Even if you have managed to avoid catching COVID-19, the effects on our mental health and financial health have been enormous. 

It’s hard not to be bombarded by staggering statistics that change in the blink of an eye. Constant hand washing and practicing social distancing are practiced and preached all across the country. 

For many Americans, they find themselves suddenly inside their homes more than ever before because of quarantine and shelter in place orders. Kids are home from school too. So, in addition to working your day job, suddenly you find yourself as a stay at home parent navigating becoming a homeschool parent. 

Learning how to deal with all these stressors and changes can be overwhelming. Then add in the financial stress of it all. Surely, you have felt your stress levels escalating in recent days and weeks. 

There are no fast or easy solutions to any of these issues. But there are things you can do both for your mental well being and your financial situation.

Impacts Of COVID-19

The impact of the COVID-19 virus, beyond the apparent illness, is profound. Millions of Americans suddenly have found themselves not working and facing crazy amounts of financial stress. 

Households are worried about:

  • Not working
  • Paying their bills
  • Staying healthy
  • Elderly parents
  • Unemployment
  • Possibility of Recession
  • Teaching their kids
  • Dwindling savings accounts
  • Retirement savings and your financial future

While this list feels like it is zig-zagging from heath to finances to worries, it is probably how many of you think when you let your brain land on the current situation happening all around you.

Let’s take a closer look at some ways you can try to cope and tackle the challenges that have come your way because of COVID-19.

Take Care Of Yourself

First, you can’t handle taking care of your family, your business, your finances if you are not actively working to take care of yourself too. The truth is this can all be too much sometimes. It is scary and overwhelming on so many fronts. 

Remember, you are not alone in your fears, concerns, or frustrations. That alone can be consoling. 

Consider practicing some of these measures to handle your stress and anxiety during this challenging time. 

Accept There Are Unknowns You Can’t Control

For many Americans who lead orderly lives of going to work, taking care of family, travel, kids sports, etc. all this turmoil is hard to accept. 

While you previously might have had the calendar organized and those kids’ schedules working like clockwork, accept there are many elements that you have no control over now. 

Understand and try to accept that life is going to be working a little differently for a while. 

Understand Emotional Triggers

For many, there is this fine line between needing to know the news and news overload. It’s essential to stay informed, and it’s also important to get away from things that will drag you down. 

Stop checking your 401k balance three times a day. Stop yourself from eating the whole jar of chocolate chip cookies because, for a moment, they make you feel good. Stop overspending money you should be saving at Target.com because the rest of it is too depressing. 

Prioritize Mental Health

Sure, your kids are home, and they are loud and spatting. Sure, you can’t run to the grocery store to escape the madness. 

Sure, suddenly you might be learning how truly hard it is to be a teacher day in and day out. 

But you need to prioritize taking care of your mental health. Take time to take a walk or play with the dog in the yard. You might not be able to go to the gym, but you can take a run in your neighborhood. 

Your yoga studio might be close, but thank goodness for the technology you can still take a yoga class. 

Whatever you used to do pre-COVID-19, find a way to do something like it so you can stay mentally healthy. 

Use Your Support System

When you are closed in at home, it’s easy to get caught up in your headspace. Remember, you’re not alone. Surely, you have a friend or two or three who could use some emotional support too. 

Sure, you can’t meet your friends for coffee or a glass of wine. But there is a wealth of tech options that will allow you to stay connected and supported. Use them.

Handling Your Financial Health

Once you have a better handle on your emotional health, you can tackle your financial situation. First, recognize this is temporary in most cases. You will be able to get back to work, and your bank account and economic situation will recover. 

Sure, you are worried about paying your bills and feeding your kids. It’s understandable. Here are a few ideas related to your finances to consider. 

Evaluate your budget. Are there any unnecessary expenses you can cut. You aren’t going to the gym right now. Your kids can’t go to a dance class. Shave off some from your budget for eating at restaurants and visiting coffee shops. It’s not a good thing to be doing right now anyway.

Look closely at your savings. Sure, you want to avoid dipping into it, if possible. Adjust to the fact that you just might need to do that to get through this. 

If you don’t have an emergency fund, take a look at your credit cards. How much available credit do you have? If you need to use some credit to get by, be sure to use the card with the lowest interest rate first. 

Talk to your lenders like your mortgage company, landlord, or bank about your financial situation. It’s best to get in front of it if you are going to have trouble paying those bills. Many lenders are making accommodations for people facing hardship because of COVID-19. 

Observe your budget. You might find, now that the whole family is home, that you are suddenly spending more on food. You are buying supplies for school at home. Explain to the entire family that you are in this together. The kids might even have to go on a snack schedule so they don’t empty the house of all food before the next time you can afford groceries. 

The more you can take control of your finances, the better. Look closely at what money you have coming in. Look at what money absolutely must go out. Careful money management is critical during uncertain times. 

While staying informed is good, watching any financial news can be, well, daunting. The same might be valid for looking at your investment portfolio. Consult with your financial advisor. You hired them because you trusted them, heed their advice. 

Avoid looking at your investments too often. You can’t control the stock market. Remember, focus on what you can control.

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