One of the biggest eye-openers for many families dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is just how out of control their finances were before the global shutdown. While you may not think about the fact that you’re living paycheck to paycheck or spending most of what you take home if you don’t feel strained, retaining your job but being unable to splurge during trips to Target or at bars and restaurants may be showing just how much you spend frivolously each month.
If this realization has caused you to reevaluate your finances, you aren’t alone. In fact, savings rights across the country have risen a lot as a result of the pandemic. If you’re on a personal finance audit of you and your family’s spending habits, here are a few other strategies to keep in mind as you work to improve your finances by the end of the month.
Get on a written budget.
The first thing to do if you want to make better financial decisions from week to week is to get on a budget. Whether you use paper and pencil or an app for budgeting, the important thing is that you accurately identify and track all of your expenditures each month. This gives you a clearer picture of where your money is going each month, which ultimately allows you to make decisions about how you want to adjust things going forward. For example, you might notice that you spend more money eating out than on groceries, or that your monthly car payment is actually making it much harder to save than you first realized. This can help you determine what areas you can cut back your spending in.
Know your borrowing power if you’re looking to make a move soon.
With so much time spent indoors and historical lows for interest rates, many people are starting to look into moving into a new home or condo. If you’re seriously considering whether to buy or sell a house, it’s crucial that you first know your borrowing power. As a result of uncertainties surrounding job security, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage to lock in your rates and mortgage amount before you start working with a realtor. Doing this shows that you’re serious and that you also have the job security necessary to take out such a large loan.
If you don’t know your borrowing power, you may find your mortgage application getting denied for asking for too much. Mortgage lenders are being exceptionally careful right now, even going as far as to double or triple-check your employment an hour before closing. As such, the more you understand how much house you can actually afford, the better if you’re really serious about moving.
Adjust your investing strategy.
While it may seem precarious to think about your investments at this time, one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for success financially in the future is to ensure that you’re adequately investing your income to save for retirement or your child’s college expenses. Especially as the market and stock prices swing up and down, being able to maintain a steady rate of investment will help your investment portfolio generate the kind of compound interest necessary to get ahead later in life.
A portfolio rebalancing tool can be particularly effective if you’re the type of person who gets stressed out looking at the stock market going up and down each day. A tool like Passiv helps automate aspects of your investing strategy, helping to prioritize allocations that allow you to hit certain targets for the future. Passiv even integrates with brokerages such as Ameritrade and Questtrade, offering smart alerts that keep you informed whenever goals start to get off track so you can address any changes based on market conditions.