4 Tips to Improve Financial Wellness and Prepare for Economic Downturn
#StressManagement #SelfCare #SelfNuturing #Wellness #FinancialWellness #FinancialHouse #EconomicDownturn
In March of this year, I introduced my readers to the Wellness Wheel and issued a challenge for you all to take a few minutes throughout the week to identify which area or areas you wanted to make small, incremental changes. Thought I had forgot, did you? Well, this is our six-month check-in. How did you do? Did you forget? [Reminder here]
In the article, "Dimensions of Wellness: Financial Wellness," we discussed how our money beliefs (the internal thoughts and beliefs we hold about money) have more bearing on our financial status than anything else. After all, if we struggle with money management, it doesn't matter if we are managing $30,000 per year in income or $300,000 per year in income. Money alone does not solve money problems. Mindset does. In today's article we are once again circling the wagon to help give you the boost you need to take charge of your financial wellness. The urgency is even more critical than when we first discussed this topic six months ago. Here's why.
Yesterday morning (09/24/2022) an article was released on ABC News regarding the impending rise in unemployment. Per usual, job losses are estimated to fall disproportionately on vulnerable workers. If you watch the news with any regularity, you have probably heard soundbites regarding The Federal Reserve's (also known as the Fed) fight to stave off inflation by instituting rate hikes. An unfortunate byproduct of these actions is that it generally causes an increase in the number of unemployed. Economist are estimating that this change in employment status will hit Americans by the end of next year. Below I will chronicle a few highlights from the article.
Job losses forecasted by the Fed would increase unemployment rate from 3.7% to about 4.4% thus adding an additional 1.2 million people to the unemployment list.
Per historical patterns, these job losses will disproportionately affect some of the most vulnerable workers namely Black and Hispanic workers, less-educated workers, and young workers.
For more details, please see the article: "The Fed Says Unemployment Will Rise. Here's Who Economists Say Would Lose Their Jobs First."
If you did not receive the call in March to get your financial house in order, please know this is the last call before closing.
B is for Budget
You cannot bake a cake without the necessary ingredients. You cannot know which ingredients you have and which you lack unless you open the pantry and refrigerator and take inventory of what you have in stock. In like manner, you are going to have to take inventory of your finances. That means, log into each and every bank account, savings account, money market account, and get out the shoe box under the bed or in the floor of the closet marked Christmas decorations. Count everything so you will know what you have. Then sit down and calculate every bill you have coming in each month. Prepare a structured budget based off this data and track all other spending along with your monthly bills. Once you know where your money is being spent, you can make any necessary changes.
D is for Debt Management
Whether you utilize the debt snowball method or the debt avalanche method, you need to be using a method. With the debt snowball method, you pay the minimums on all of your debt and anything extra goes to the smallest debt amount. Once you pay the smallest amount in full, you then take that extra money and put it towards the next smallest debt. Continue with this momentum until all of your debts are paid off. With the debt avalanche method, you are instead paying extra toward the debt with the highest interest rate. The thought behind this method is that you will end up spending less in the long run if you pay the highest interest balances first. If you are like me, there is no way all of my debts will be paid in full by this time next year. That is my reality. If this is your reality too, identify any possible debt consolidation or forgiveness programs you may qualify for. According to recent news, the Biden-Harris administration is rolling out student loan forgiveness for qualifying Americans. See details at the official Federal Student Aid website for the most up to date information to see if you qualify. The last piece to this puzzle is stop accumulating more debt. Don't not add to your debt portfolio.
E is for Emergency Fund
According to an article by CNN Money, "Four in ten Americans can't, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Board. Those who don't have the cash on hand say they'd have to cover it by borrowing or selling something." Are you in this number? Answer honestly for no one but yourself. Are you in this number? If you had an emergency that totaled $378.92, could you cover it without borrowing money from friends, family, or institutions? If your answer is no, then you have to correct this ASAP-edly. Once you build up to $400, aim for $1,000. Keep going until you have three to six months in expenses saved. Once you hit the three to six months, hit nine months, then hit one year.
M is for Multiple Streams of Income
Sometimes the answer really truly is there is more month than money. No matter how we may cut going to the movies, going out to eat, or Starbucks coffee, there may truly just not be enough income to sustain us. Let's face it, the last increase to the federal minimum wage was July 24, 2009 when it was increased from $6.55 to $7.25. According to my calculations, that was 13 years ago. Due to inflation, $7.25 of 2009 does not stretch as far as the $7.25 of 2022. You have to find ways to earn extra income. If you live in an area that has Uber of Lyft, driving for one of these companies may help you out in a pinch. Just remember to save and record all gas receipts for tax reimbursement. You may also become an Instacart or Door Dash affiliate. There is old fashion yard maintenance that you can advertise your availability. If you have a skill in a specific area you may freelance on Fiverr or advertise on social media and start your own side business. There is also house-sitting, baby-sitting, or dog-sitting. Sell baked goods, make jewelry, or design worksheets and e-books for electronic download.
I will share a few of the ways I have earned extra money. I didn't get rich or break the bank. However, the extra funds have come through in a pinch and helped me pay a bill or build my savings. Please be sure to do research and only sign up for offers that you feel comfortable with. Also disclaimer, if you click my referral links listed below, I do earn affiliate commissions which of course is at no additional cost to you.
Companies desperately want your opinion, and they are willing to pay for it. Swagbucks rewards members with free gift cards and cash for the everyday things they already do online. You can earn Swagbucks (SB) for shopping in-store or online, watching entertaining videos, playing games, searching the web, answering surveys, and finding great deals to earn points. You can then redeem your points for gift cards to your favorite retailers like Amazon or Walmart, to name a few, or get cash back from PayPal. To try it out, use my Swagbucks referral link to get started; if you sign-up using my link, we both will earn a bonus 300 SB.
This is a newcomer in my multiple streams side hustle lineup. With Upside, you get cash back on your everyday purchases (that you were already going to make anyway). So how does it work? Sign-up with my Upside referral link. Input promo code NT3G8 to get an extra $0.15/gal bonus the first time you make a purchase. You will link your credit or debit card to the app. Search the app for offers (gasoline stations and restaurants). Check-in on the app to let it know that you are at the gas station or restaurant. Shop using your linked card (their system verifies with the merchant so please be sure to use the same card you linked to the app). Upload a copy of your receipt to the app (however, if you check-in/claim offer, it rarely asks for you to upload the receipt). Receive cash back that you can cash out and send directly to your bank account, a PayPal account, or exchange for gift cards. https://upside.app.link/NT3G8
It can be used for more than just sending money to friends or paying businesses for goods and services. I can't say for sure how long this program will last, but as of the writing of this article you can log into PayPal and refer friends, family, and others to their platform. If you sign up using my PayPal referral link, we both can earn $10 when you sign up and spend $5. There is a limit of 10 referrals per year. https://py.pl/z7jJR
A service of PayPal, Venmo is also used for sending money to friends or paying businesses for goods and services. And like PayPal, as of the writing of this article you can log into Venmo and refer friends, family, and others to their platform. If you sign up using my Venmo referral link, we both can earn $5 when you sign up and spend at least $5 within 14 days of joining. https://get.venmo.com/RvBDOQRIKob
Yes, I have included a credit card (which is debt I know but bear with me). There is a responsible way to use a credit card. Personally, I use my Chase credit card to pay things I already have to pay for each month (gas, grocery, car insurance, cell phone bill, etc.) Rather than use cash or checks, I pay my bills with my credit card. Why is that? Cash back rewards. With my particular card, I earn 1% cash back for all purchases. Every quarter, I can earn 5% cash back on bonus categories selected by my card company. If you sign up using my Chase referral link, I will earn $100 if you get approved for a card. There are also perks for you. Select the card that fits your lifestyle and you in turn can earn $200 when you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from opening an account. https://www.referyourchasecard.com/18a/WANNFLDT9T
I hope that this article will serve as the reminder and inspiration needed to spur you into action. What economists are forecasting is going to be hard on us all. Do not let my warnings pass you by for another six months. I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Do you agree with the forecaster's assessment that an economic downturn is going to hit us all within a year? Or do you think it will be sooner? What are your current strategies to prepare? Again, as you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.
"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." ~Anne Bradstreet
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