Do Your Finances Need A Tune-Up?

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Copyright : Tom Baker

 

This year has certainly been full of surprises, partially from the fear surrounding COVID-19, and partially from the economic upturns which have wracked the entire globe. From long furloughs to unemployment, people everywhere are feeling the financial effects.  We are officially in a recession, which makes it even more important for everyone to review their finances and find ways to protect themselves during the financial downturn.

There are general financial guidelines which should always be followed, such as paying down debt, establishing an emergency fund, finding other means to generate income, and continuing to contribute to retirement accounts.  Another vital component in good financial health is establishing a budget and really examining your spending habits.  Almost invariably, people find out after they create a budget that they are spending money needlessly on frills that they don’t need.  By eliminating those hidden money drains, it becomes easier to cover living expenses, thus reducing some of the stress involved in getting by financially.

I have had a budget in place for over 30 years, and I have seen the power it wields.  By following a budget, I was able to pay down all credit card debt, pay off a car, establish an emergency fund, and put money aside for retirement, so I know it can all be done.  Even at this point, with zero debt, I am acutely aware of my budget, and I review it on an almost weekly basis to make sure I am on track.

Source: pigly.com

 

If you need help in establishing a budget, you can use a budget calculator. I found a wonderful budget calculator on Pigly.com which is very easy to use, and extremely thorough.  It helps you break down all expenses, from the essentials to debts and savings so you can target all your goals and ensure that your income is allocated optimally. All you have to do is plug in your income, and the calculator will automatically generate a low end and high end for all the categories.  So even if you have never established a budget before, you can set one up instantly.

When budgeting, don’t be afraid to contribute to your retirement accounts right now, as long as you have your debts paid down and you have an emergency fund in place.  I am a big proponent of Dave Ramsey’s investing philosophy, and I am grateful that I educated myself on financial wellness and dug myself out of what once seemed like a desperate situation.  It was only after I had paid off all of my credit cards and established an emergency fund back in 2013 that I began aggressively started putting money aside for retirement.

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The fact is, we are living in uncertain times and need to be prepared for whatever hits.  By buttressing our financial health, getting creative with income streams, and following a budget, we will be better equipped to survive the ebb and flow of the current economy.

How Coronavirus Has Changed Our Shopping Habits

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Shopping habits have changed dramatically since the appearance of COVID-19 and the subsequent scramble to socially distance and protect ourselves.  Grocery stores and retail pharmacies now have plexiglass shields at the checkout stands, and there are shoe stickers on the floors as visual reminders of the six foot distance we are urged to keep from each other.

Malls are nearly empty, and many merchants haven’t even dared open their doors.  The days when you could just hop over to a local store and pick up a couple of items have been replaced with long lines of people waiting to get in, and staple items which are perpetually low in stock or completely depleted.  Let’s not forget about all that toilet paper hoarding which defined the earlier part of 2020.

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The new normal when it comes to consumer spending is largely confined to purchasing only the essentials, but there has also been a peculiar yet predictable surge in what can reasonably be described as online retail therapy.  Since we’ve basically been forced to become homebodies, our shopping preferences have changed to reflect this lifestyle shift.  Online streaming services have increased dramatically in popularity, as people search for shows and films to chew up some of their time at home.

Industries which have seen an uptick in their sales since the global pandemic hit include food delivery and takeout services, alcohol, exercise equipment, health supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer, and beauty and wellness products.

Some people have been compelled to stock up on bundles of essentials like pasta, toilet paper and the like, while others have fallen into the habit of purchasing unnecessary items, perhaps a long coveted item which was purchased with the attitude, life is short, might as well buy it.

The following excerpt from an article by Leanne Italie is an excellent description of the purchasing habits which many of us might find ourselves falling into as this lockdown continues:

“Shopping as therapy has been shown to reduce negative moods and boost overall happiness,” he said. “The big downside, however, is that such relief is very short-lived. That good feeling very quickly dissipates.”

Mr. Galak said some research points to “shopping while bored” as a variation with less emotional payout.

“Browsing for things that one doesn’t need fills the time and then clicking `buy now’ just naturally follows,” he said. “Consumers may find themselves on page 20 of a search result for a new pair of shoes, a place that when engaged and not bored, they would never reach.”

Jennifer Salgado, 42 of Bloomfield, N.J., is a shopper with many heads these days.

“Resourceful me has purchased: a pasta roller and drying rack, because now I’m Ina Garten; stuff to make hand sanitizer, because I’m now a chemist; and dog nail clippers that my 76-pound bulldog noped out of real fast and is now looking like Snooki from the ‘Jersey Shore,’” she said.

There’s also “luxurious me,” Ms. Salgado said, snapping up 96 macarons from a bulk-buying store, along with the Jennifer who needed 24 pounds of frozen peas.

“Most of the time, I forget what’s coming,” she said, echoing others who accepted long delivery dates out of fear. “And most of the time, I realize I never really needed these things in the first place.”

Kellie Flor-Robinson of Silver Spring, Md., just may be a combination of all of the above.

“I ordered a case of Moet,” she said. “I’m not sure that it was an accident, though — this thing has me buggy.”

 

 

A True Survivor

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Now that we are all settling into a new normal with the global COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, I’m almost thankful that I grew up in a poor household.  Because I saw my mom struggle to make ends meet as a single mother, I learned some valuable lessons about how to brave any storm.

As soon as the wave of panic and dread began to sweep across the globe amid COVID-19 concerns, my survival instinct kicked up big time. I began hunkering down, planning a strategy, a game plan.  I turned to my childhood comfort food, white rice (I limit my current consumption to a small amount of jasmine rice) to stretch out my meals, a trick I knew all too well from my childhood.

What really surprised me was how a number of extremely wealthy people I know completely buckled under the pressure, lost all their coping mechanisms, and allowed their businesses to evaporate because they didn’t want to think outside the box and re-strategize.  It was astonishing how the same people who used to intimidate me and make me feel inadequate were so quick to give up.  All the shiny things don’t matter when one suddenly has to think about how to keep a roof over one’s head and put food on the table.  Food, shelter, and essential items will always be more important than driving a fancy car or buying designer clothing.

Everything has shifted profoundly, permanently on this planet, and we are all being forced to pay attention and shift our priorities.  We miss the people we cannot see in person, which hopefully means that we will hold higher value for those friendships and bonds.  If mankind is being forced to reinvent itself, then let’s get this done!

6 things to DO during CoronaVirus

Want to know how to survive the current global pandemic? Then read on!

The world has been isolated, stunned, more than we’ve seen, more than a jubilee, since WWII. This villain is different, this is a villain we can’t see, reason with, hear, and no nation in the world can build an army against. This is an epidemic that does not care about religion, race, creed, origin, or color.

Everyone has been touched, from the sanitation worker to neurosurgeons.

 

The silver lining?

 

For the first time in history, everyone is on the same level. This is an amazing chance to get ahead while the world is in the twilight zone. 

Fortunately, a big advantage between now and any previous plague is that we have the connection of the internet to learn, fuel, earn, communicate, and live.

Especially in Canada and the USA, NOW is when to get ready for when the world wakes up once again. Now is the time to learn and improve your skills.  It is the best way to protect yourself and your future. 

Remember, the world may be very very different post corona and the internet may become more of a mainstay, even for low tech companies. 

 

Do you like internet marketing? Learn  SEO, PPC, Email Marketing.

 

Are you attracted to content? Learn how to create engaging and impactful content.

 

Are you interested in art? Learn how to bring amazing creations to life, even digitally.

 

This is not an affiliated promotion (I just write articles) , there are tons of amazing training sites offering hand holding guides. Our favorite is Udemy.com,  a world renowned course site where you can learn everything from marketing to woodcrafts.   

 

Let’s be super clear: 

 

GET OFF NETFLIX – IMPROVE YOUR FUTURE

 

This is the time for action. 

 

Check it out: https://www.udemy.com/

 

You can also check out our digital marketing consulting opportunities here

So what will happen post virus?

 

Impossible to know, we don’t know the timeline, how depleted resources will be or what ongoing new laws will have to be taken on. 

However, people don’t change, you, your family, community, and the globe as a whole. 

85% of businesses are now in peril, and it’s not going to see improvement until the pandemic passes. The worse it gets, the more panicky the response will be as human survival instinct kicks in. 

This is why you need to be ready, educated, and ready to be at the top of the hiring list when its all over.  Now is the time to learn and start using those skills online for yourself or companies looking to work virtually for now. 

Key is to have a post virus, have an education, online experience, and business under your belt, your keys to success in turning this difficult time into a life changing opportunity.

 

Think positive!

 

“Ok, I’ll do it  – but I need money now too!”

 

Yes, this is why you gotta get online and start working as well. If there was no web, there would be chaos, BUT, fortunately we’re all just as connected as we were before (maybe a little more cabin fever). The funny quip in the business world is that “Now we can see how many of those meetings could have been emails after all”. 

Translating that, it means  that a significant percentage of jobs can be done from anywhere, and at the moment, the best option for millions.

So – to survive this, for your physical, spiritual health, and overall wellness, do the following:

  1. Update your Resume (especially with remote work)
  2. Apply to jobs on Monster.ca,  LinkedIn etc, and go freelance online, sites like https://www.upwork.com/ 
  3. Search in your local community groups
  4. Start a blog (like this one!)
  5. Creative? Try Etsy!

Everyone  has something to provide another, it’s the wonderment of the person, the miracle of the internet allows you to make yourself known. 

 

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