The past year has been about reacting to crisis for so many of us that it’s almost become second nature to stay in crisis mode. Amid the pandemic, we’ve had to pivot to meet a cascade of unexpected challenges, from social isolation to changes in our job situation (and income).
Sometimes, it might seem like everything we’ve learned about preparing for our financial future had been turned upside down. But that’s only because instead of saving for a rainy day, we found ourselves staring out the window at buckets of rain coming down for days on end.
Now that there’s some sun peeking through the clouds, it’s easier to see where our preparations have protected us from a leaky financial roof during the storm. We shouldn’t abandon those principles now, though; instead, we should redouble them when sunnier times return.
Here’s a reminder of some of those principles, now that the time is approaching to step out of crisis mode and back into the mindset of protecting your assets and building for the future.
Take inventory of where you stand
Once the rain stops, check your financial roof for leaks and plug any holes you find. During a crisis, all you can do is find a bucket to catch the falling water; but now’s the time to address the problems at their source and prevent further damage.
Maybe you were forced to transition from working for someone else to self-employment and/or the gig economy. Ask yourself whether you want to stay there, or whether your goal is to re-enter the traditional workforce. Either way, take steps to attain the position you want.
If you’re looking for a more traditional job, identify the kind of career you’d like and the qualifications that employers are seeking. Look for ways to meet this demand by taking online courses or going back to school for the necessary credentials. Then put yourself out there by networking, creating a killer résumé, and doing what it takes to get noticed.
If you like being self-employed, solidify your position by knowing how and when to promote your business. The pandemic pointed up the importance of social media and digital marketing, and that’s not going away.
As the physical business world opens back up again, you’ll have access to some tried-and-true in-person options, as well. When you can enact those all together, you’ll have more ways than ever to boost your product.
Deal with the fallout
As it becomes clearer what you’ll be dealing with moving forward, create a new budget that reflects your new reality. Download a budgeting app to help you create and stick to your financial plan.
Look for ways to pay off the debts you’ve incurred, keep an eye on your credit report, and start saving. Cut expenses wherever you can and invest your money wisely.
You can do this for your personal finances or your business, creating a comprehensive financial plan for both. Consult a certified financial planner for advice and ideas.
Look for and accept help
After a year in isolation, we’ve become accustomed to depending on ourselves. But it’s important to remember that others can play a crucial role in helping us achieve security and accomplish our goals.
Take this opportunity to reconnect with personal and professional contacts. Ask for referrals and offer to help them with their goals, too. Who knows? Maybe you’ll share some objectives that you can work toward together. Now is a great time to pursue mentorships, partnerships, and other opportunities to rebuild social and professional bonds.
And don’t stop there. Look for help from government programs, such as Paycheck Protection Program loans, disaster funding, loan forgiveness, and tax extensions. Seek tolerance and help from business partners, landlords, and creditors, too.
Prepare for new crises
Just because this crisis is heading into the home stretch (we hope), that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down. Just the opposite: We should be more aware than ever that it’s essential to create a crisis management plan to anticipate future challenges — because you never know what’s around the next curve.
Think about insurance options and cover all your bases. If you’re in business, the Small Business Administration outlines six insurance types you may want to consider:
- General liability
- Product liability
- Professional liability
- Commercial property
- Home-based business insurance
- Business owner’s policies
While you’re at it, protect your family’s future by writing a will, setting forth medical directives, and making sure your life insurance is in order. It’s helpful to create an estate planning checklist with these and any other items you can think of. The more you put in writing ahead of time, the less your family will have to worry if the worst kind of tragedy strikes.
Experiencing a crisis can teach you a lot about preparing for one, and we’ve learned plenty from the past year. That’s the silver lining of this rain cloud that’s been hanging over our heads. With the proper planning, we can exchange that silver for gold (or green) in our pockets.
All it takes is a little ingenuity, a bit of adjustment, and a return to the bedrock principles of financial security that have served us well for so many years.