As countries and businesses begin plans to return back to work and relax social distancing orders, you might be thinking about what life is going to look like in the “new normal.”
Obviously, it is going to take a while for everything to get back to 100%, but it’s good to start thinking about what this transition might look like for your finances.
Know What Grace Periods Are Ending
In most places, governments and companies have provided grace periods for those who have had financial challenges as a result of COVID-19. As the world starts to open back up, you’ll want to know the end dates for these grace periods so that you don’t accidentally miss a payment.
It might take you an afternoon, but sit down sometime soon and figure out any grace period that you opted to use. If you share expenses with a partner, be sure to go over any finances together so that you are both on the same page. Think about any student loans, car payments, mortgage payments, and so forth.
After you’ve accounted for all of your expenses, be sure to write down when you need to start paying those bills again. You might even want to put a notification in your phone to remind you to start the routine again or put the bills on auto payment so that you don’t forget.
Figure Out What Expenses You Have to Pay
If you’ve deferred some expenses due to grace periods, you’ll want to figure out what you absolutely have to pay the next time that you get a paycheck. Maybe you have to pay two months of rent because your landlord gave you an extension. Or perhaps you need to pay a couple months of cell phone bills.
Knowing what you have to pay, when you have to pay it, and where it’s coming from will help you as you transition to this next phase. This is why it’s also important to know when grace periods are ending. For example, you might only have until the end of the month to pay your internet bill for the past two months, but you might have additional time to pay for your electricity. If finances are tight, you might want to put the money toward what you absolutely have to.
Come Up With a Budget for Going Forward
There’s a good chance that you had to drastically alter any budget that you had before the pandemic to adjust for new changes. But as people return to work, you’ll likely need to update your budget to figure out your finances going forward.
For example, for those who experienced decreased hours as a result of COVID-19, depending on your employer and work situation, you might be easing back into work and slowly gaining additional hours each week. You’ll want to account for the fact that you may now have more income, but that you’re still not at the amount of hours that you were previously used to. You may also need to adjust your budget to deal with expenses that you previously weren’t able to cover.
Depending on your situation, you may need to go through several iterations of budgets as you transition to a life that looks more like what happened before the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping your budget constantly updated will help you deal with all the unknowns in the future.
Be Prepared for Any Unexpected Expenses
You’ll also want to be thinking about any unexpected expenses that may arise. If you’re able to, you might want to set aside some money in your budget to manage expenses like these.
For example, maybe you haven’t been able to work for a month, but have been watching your six-year-old child at home. If your child isn’t able to go back to school when you go back to work, you’ll want to think about your plans and how that might impact your finances. For example, you might need to arrange for childcare, which may be an expense that you typically didn’t need to pay and plan for during the school year.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you’re still struggling financially, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If your landlord gave you extra time to pay rent and you still need more time, ask if that’s still a possibility. It might not be, but it’s helpful for people to know if you have a financial need.
If you lost your job as a result of COVID-19, you may just be starting to look for a new one. Reaching out to people in your community can help, as well as researching what industries are in demand right now and what companies are hiring during this time. As such, there have been several corporations hiring and looking specifically for those who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19.
Transitions are always hard, and it’s likely that the next few months will be volatile as everyone navigates the transition of going back to work during this pandemic. Thinking ahead about how this might impact your finances and seeing what you can do will set you up for success as the world starts to emerge from their homes.