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?
7 thoughts on “Trusting the System I Created”
THIS is definitely the time when “the system”, as you said, gets tested. We’re right there with you! Know that you’ve got the plan together, an emergency fund (for times like these!), and indeed – trust it’ll work out. Jenni and I just finished working through our budget details from last year and have been thinking ahead beyond 2020, trying to incorporate the pandemic in our plans. It’s rough, but reassuring to think through it all and have a plan! She’s even in the middle of making a transition to part-time!
Stick to the course! Cheers!
As a teacher, I can tell you not stress out over homeschooling. Our days are filled with assemblies, electives, recess, etc. that take time away from the actual classroom. You do not need to fill up every minute with learning. Just work on the basics and teach them real life skills that come up naturally throughout the day. We will get them back on track when schools reopen. And there are tons of free resources online so use those.
I think we’re all kind of trying to figure out the same things. Do we go on business as usual or make changes to our spending to offset some of our new circumstances. And what’s ahead? We’ve spent extra in my house to add some entertainment for our kids and splurged on extra take out to help local businesses. Thanks for sharing.
I have had almost all of these thoughts at one point during quarantine. Isn’t it crazy how each day can feel so different from the next? While my fiance and I are fortunate to have kept our jobs through this, I know this is never a guarantee. We’re basically functioning on a spend for two reasons only mentality: 1) to maintain our sanity and 2) to support others in need. We had saved a lot for summer travel and wedding plans that are now cancelled, so we’re hoping to save most of it, but use those funds for reasons 1 and 2 where we can. I’m with you on the hair/nail salons, but hoping they open soon for the sake of those who work there. Hang in there <3
I hear ya! We’re also staying the course — wrapping up some home projects and then will be trying to save. We’re currently refinancing which will reduce our monthly payments, as well. Of course, we’ll keep paying extra, but if need be, we can cut our payment down.
Great and honest post. There are no straight answers on anything at this time. It’s throwing a lot of us into massive states of stress. My job has also drastically reduced hours, its unknown if it will return to a “normal” set of hours. We decided the first thing to do as a family is to have a plan. #1 Review the budget. #2 Figure out what is truly important (if Covid hasn’t taught that lesson yet, it will). #3 Create a plan and a cushion of “security”. A cushion of security could be savings (financial) and/or anything that will help give you a sense of security. With my parents; food insecurity is a HUGE trigger. So – once reviewing our budget (identifying areas where we were lax and directing those monies to savings), we came up with a plan to reduce worry/stress over available resources (food, TP, essentials). We’ve dusted off the water bath canners & pressure canner, prepped the jars, have plenty of lids/rings – all to start canning summer produce (jams, salsas, tomatoes, marinara sauces, soups). We’ve put together a list of pantry essentials: so when we do go shopping we pick up 1 or 2 at a time to place into the pantry for future. Baby steps that will add up when/if a “2nd” wave hits or a recession happens. Working together on a plan has done wonders for all of our mental states. If nothing else – we have learned we are a resilient bunch of creative nerds who can pivot when needed, let go of things that are no longer what we thought were important and who can focus on what is. For us: our family (both related and non-related) is the most important thing. The next important thing is our community and how to help when/if we can in any way possible. (Life boiled down to 2 main items)
These are important questions, pre and post pandemic, and there’s no easy answer. I tend to also follow this approach: “I usually do my shopping slowly over weeks and buy things on sale”. My take on spending is that you always win when delaying it, when possible. It has many benefits, like making sure you actually need the things you want to buy and giving you a chance to find (cheaper) alternatives or be innovative about how to solve the problem. 2nd hand is also a great way to find deals.
You know when businesses give each other 30 days or 60 days to pay an invoice? They are giving each other a way to manage their cash flow. People can do that too. I’m not saying “buy and pay later” (although in some cases it makes sense, especially if you can find 0% interest payment plans and more importantly if *you are sure you can afford the payments*), I’m saying that delaying a purchase when possible, can have some material impact, no matter your net worth.