When things get tough, we have to trust the systems we created and let them carry us through.
So I am a little confused.
This has been a tough time for all of us, and there are definitely lots of emotions and feelings running around.
I, personally, swing back and forth between loving the slower pace of life and spending time with my kids and feeling so incredibly overwhelmed with work and life and being scared.
When it comes to money, I am also having a hard time knowing the best way to proceed. On the one hand, there are things that we can buy that will really make this time easier. For example, supplies, books, and games- especially since my kids have very little (aka basically none) online school. Their education has fallen entirely on me, so I am basically homeschooling them. This calls for a lot of supplies and activities.
With libraries closed and the really cheap place I buy books being closed (and I can only get there on public transportation), I am sort of “forced” to buy books for more money than I would usually spend. I usually do my shopping slowly over weeks and buy things on sale. The craft supplies in my house are purchased on clearance, as are the books and games I have.
Whenever I see something cheap, I buy it, and this has worked really well in pre-pandemic times. After all, we don’t do so many projects and activities usually. So my dot paint markers lasted me 3 years, but then after a month in quarantine, I’ve already had to buy more, plus paint, paper, and a stapler, etc… The list goes on.
I switch back and forth between KNOWING that I need this stuff and rationalizing that it is for my kid’s education and being very worried about what the future is going to bring and despairing about the money I’ve been spending.
Worried about the future
I still have a job, but I am working approximately half of what I usually work, and business is definitely slower. In addition, I work in a real-estate adjacent field, so we will probably start seeing the effects of this depression soon. That worries me.
So do I save, save, save? Do I switch to my austerity budget, or do I buy the things that make our life easier and more bearable? This is definitely something I am struggling with. Of course, I am still as frugal as I can. I’m not splurging on anything big. I am still scouring deals online and limiting my purchases.
No new clothes or shoes are happening for me! I am laughing at the cry to open hair salons and nail places right now. Who has room for that in the budget?!?! (yes, I know different things are important for different people). I will wait to splurge on stuff like that when we go back to “normal,” although there is a lot to say for not ever going back to “normal.”
How I am Handling My Finances Right Now
Trust the System
If you are reading this to hear some sage wisdom or advice, you will be sorely disappointed. The fact is that there are no good answers. The only thing I can tell you is what I am telling myself. Stick to my budget. Keep on saving as much as I can. I have to trust the budget system that I set up, which includes room for saving and spending. I have to live my life now without being overly worried about the future and plan and prepare for a darker tomorrow (and be pleasantly surprised if it turns out OK).
I have set percentages in my budget for spending and saving, and I am sticking to it for now. Of course, tweaks can and should be made to adjust. Still, the system allows for tweaking and adjusting (incidentally, that is why I love dealing with percentages- dollar amounts don’t allow themselves for the same tweaking as percentages do).
Follow the Rules
When it seems like the rules are flying out the window and we are grasping at straws- then this is precisely the time to trust our systems. Trust the rules that have always been in place. The rules and principles don’t change even if the situation has changed. They are principles because they work. So that is what I am putting my trust in right now. Following the system and rules I had set in place before all this happened. Spend what I am allowed to spend and save what I told myself to save. I have to trust that this will work for me and pray and hope it will all turn out OK! Having a plan helps!
What are you doing now? Are you throwing all the personal finance rules out of the window, or are you sticking to the tried-and-true methods?