4 Ways to Avoid Financial Stress During a Pandemic

July 31, 2020
Avoid feeling financially stressed by using these 4 surefire methods. Learn how to reduce your spending and create financial goals while facing Covid-19.
4 Ways to Avoid Financial Stress During a Pandemic

Regardless of your financial situation, a pandemic like the Coronavirus can have a bearing on your level of stress associated with money. The fallout since March is apparent when you compare the numbers. This feeling of anxiety is not limited to the lower class, or even middle class, because uncertainty knows no social class.

This article aims to help you develop a healthy way of managing your money and stress by finding the right perspective, a.k.a. your money mindset. That way, the next time our lives are run off the rails by an unexpected virus or otherwise – your financial state will be iron-clad. 

REDUCE YOUR SPENDING

Like most, an increase in stress fuels an increase in spending – think food, shopping and hobbies. When we feel out of control, our mental and emotional instincts kick in, and we look for ways to boost our serotonin levels and feel a level of control. 

Review purchases honestly since the quarantine. Even the most technically-challenged person has no doubt mastered the art of online shopping by now. Just as we can go a little overboard at the grocery store without a list, online shopping can also be a significant trap. It provides us with all the things our instant-gratification persona wants and most certainly doesn't need.

Has the Covid inspired you to jump on a subscription-based purchase? Have you been ordering activities for the family that you know will end up in a corner untouched? (Seriously, just ask the game of corn hole that currently resides in my kitchen, beside the dining table and has never seen our yard, let alone a participant.) Have you decided to take on a few more home projects than initially planned this summer? All of these decisions are regular go-to's when the world around us goes a little wonky. (That reminds me, I must order that copy of The Wonky Donkey, even though my kids are clearly too old for it.)

If we can slow down and meditate on the simple things that we can manage, we can effectively reduce our stress levels. Reducing stress will add to a more responsible attitude towards our spending and saving habits.

FINANCIAL CHALLENGE | Challenge the whole family to put off buying online for just one week. Keep a record of your daily wish list and tally it up at the end of the week. Compare wish lists with the rest of the household. You'll be amazed at just how much you've saved, and you'll have a better idea of what you still want or need, as opposed to items motivated by your body's addiction to the dopamine rush.

GET MORE SLEEP

Easier said than done, right? 48% of Canadians report losing sleep when they're stressed about money. Regardless of age or income, we all need much more sleep than we think. While you may be convinced that you've got this covered, or that you may need more sleep but just can't beat your new Tik Tok addiction. Consider the following top 5 reasons people lose sleep when it comes to money:

  • Household expenses
  • Debt
  • Being House Poor (Living paycheque to paycheque)
  • Struggling to acquire savings
  • Unexpected expenses (hello Covid-19!)

Why? It's no surprise that our chemical make-up is hit hard at times like these. Our basic necessities and providing for our dependents all revolve around a healthy or at least manageable financial situation. In fact, financial stress is linked to several mental and physical illnesses

Considering that the pandemic is a strange time, and we're all spread a little too thin, let's skip ahead to the most immediate solutions for lack of sleep: 

1.    SCHEDULE, SCHEDULE, SCHEDULE | You’ll have to be a little strict with yourself since Covid means way more downtime than we are used to, which leads to way more time-wasting than usual. However, if you can work out a reasonable sleep and wake time, you will quickly feel refreshed, and you'll be in a better mental state to examine your finances. Set alarms on your phone if need be, talk it over with the family and dedicate yourself to a one-week trial. 

When your mind is free from stress, you'll be much more efficient when it comes to adapting to unexpected circumstances. Your confidence in your efforts to save and spend wisely will improve and you'll develop a more positive attitude overall. A positive attitude is key to just about everything you want out of life.

2.    CREATE A RESTFUL ENVIRONMENT | Not only will creating a Zen-like feel in your house help you unwind prior to sleep, but it will also support a daily calm. Dedicate one day to each room in your home. Carefully consider what is necessary and what is simply clutter and then get rid of it. Are there practical elements that you can add to create a more purposeful and clean workspace? When things are in order and paired down to avoid clutter, your mind will benefit.

The habit of unwinding peacefully at home can quickly dissolve your fatigue and induce a good night’s sleep. For more steps to better sleep, we encourage you to consult these suggestions from Mayo Clinic. With good sleep comes a clear mind, calm emotions and focused action.

FINANCIAL CHALLENGE | What are some at-home activities you enjoy but haven’t been able to make time for? Perhaps your cupboards are full of ingredients you planned on using but never got around to? Skip the take out and create a relaxing evening with your significant other – or solo – creating a tasty dish in the comfort of your own home. The money you would have spent can be set aside or used to pay off your unruly credit card.

CREATE SHORT AND LONG-TERM FINANCIAL GOALS

When you have achieved a level of mental and emotional clarity, thanks to all that sleep and stress reduction, make a list of short-term and long-term goals. For example, your short-term goals may look like these:

  • Pay off credit card debt
  • Save for a vacation
  • Create a substantial cushion in your chequing account 
  • Save for your seasonal must-haves

Your long-term goals can also vary, for example,

Next, evaluate your fixed monthly expenses. Take advantage of the many forms of relief being offered during Covid, such as deferring mortgage payments. Now it’s time to consider your fixed earnings, then compare what is coming in and going out. Take note of dates. A well working budget is often reliant on a steady cash flow. Assess the dates of all incoming pays with all outgoing payments. If there are any specific areas that leave you with too long of a deficit, consult with your utility companies or bank with the purpose of spreading out expenses evenly. With enough practice, you may even be able to leave the pay cheque to pay cheque life behind. 

You can also research the latest offers from mortgage and insurance brokers. When the world is in crisis, it’s often a time of great financial flux. Take advantage of the lower interest rates and bonuses, while making sure to leave risky transactions to another time. Consult leaders in the industry for helpful tips.

FINANCIAL CHALLENGE | Once you’ve reworked your monthly budget, try the “envelope” method. For each household expense, including personal spending, place the budgeted amount in an individual envelope. (Weekly groceries – Week 1, Week 2, etc., personal spending, take out, clothes, pharmaceuticals, etc.) Access your envelopes when you are on your way to the specific task. Leave your debit and credit cards at home. While it may feel like the 90’s when you come up short on at the till, you will quickly re-learn to select and purchase more carefully. You would be surprised at how quickly you get into the habit of spending more wisely and how much you actually save by limiting your access to your banking and credit. Click here for more ways to budget your money.

STAY POSITIVE

While we all have areas that we need to work on, we can all refocus our minds and activities on accomplishing a less stressful day. Focus on leaving yourself enough time to wake up slowly and enjoy a few minutes of quiet outdoors Ensure that you have time to eat a satisfying breakfast, as well as time to pack a lunch for work. Listen to a financial podcast while commuting, picking up simple tips as well as discovering that you are not alone in experiencing financial challenges. Create an at-home date night or family activity, making and eating supper together, using local fresh ingredients. Take an evening stroll as a family before the bedtime routines. Always make certain to have time to yourself, to key down and induce a good night’s sleep. 

The murky world of financial stress will quickly turn crystal clear when your mind and emotions are both well rested and well prepared. You can absolutely make it in uncertain times!

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