By Bill Arbuckle
COVID 19 — the “coronavirus” — is changing how we live, work and connect with others. It’s also affecting family finances as businesses close or reduce hours to help lower the risk of spreading the virus.
Because the changes in the market will affect families, we’ve collected several tips and insights to help you and your spouse keep your family finances strong during these challenging times.
Sit down with your spouse and make a plan
Talking about finances is tough. You and your spouse will probably have two separate views about money. But it’s important to put your differences aside and make decisions that will benefit your marriage and your family. Here’s how to start:
- No pointing fingers. You’re not here to argue over your spouse’s past mistakes or decisions. You’re here to make good decisions for the team (you and your spouse).
- Look where you are right now. How much money is in the bank? How much is in savings? Do you have cash stashed around the house? Learn as much as you can so you can decide what you’ll need in the next several weeks.
- Look at your options. Is your employer cutting hours? Look at online jobs. You may be able to find a part-time job to make up the shortfall in your salary. Can you find other ways to make up the difference? Online auctions or sales may be another option. Remember that you can do small things to bring in money.
- Look for ways to cut back. It seems like “trimming the budget” is another way of saying, “quit buying expensive coffee or bubble milk tea.” But before you abruptly quit, look at some invisible expenses you may have forgotten. Can you cut one streaming service for a few months? What about online subscriptions? Is there a free tool that works just as well?
Avoid these financial mistakes during the COVID-19 outbreak
When the world seems to be out of control, it’s easy to overreact. Avoid these mistakes when thinking about your family finances:
- Panicking over the day’s news. Remember that events will change. Financial markets will fluctuate. What we know about COVID-19 today may change tomorrow as we discover new treatments. Plan for the long haul but prepare for ways to cover your day-to-day expenses.
- Overbuying or hoarding supplies. Store shelves are bare as retailers scramble to keep up with consumer needs. While it’s wise to stock up on the basics such as food, over-the-counter medications and, of course, toilet paper, it’s also important to ask how much you’ll really need. Chances are you don’t need 17,000 bottles of hand sanitiser.
- Giving in to hopelessness. Ours is not the first generation to deal with fluctuating financial markets or out-of-control viruses. Yes, we are facing a serious health crisis, but keep in mind that this will pass.
Help others affected by the coronavirus
Maybe you and your spouse are in a good place financially and can consider helping others. If so, now is a time to show love to families in need. Here are ways you can help:
- Check on your neighbours. If they need help, offer to buy food, medication or supplies.
- Give to your local charity. Families often turn to local charities for food or financial needs. If you can do so, give extra so that your charity can help families in need.
- Buy a little extra and share it with others. If you’re shopping and can afford additional food or personal supplies, buy one extra to have on hand to share with someone in need.
Coronavirus — a final reminder from us at Focus on the Family Malaysia
“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognise the opportunity.” – President John F. Kennedy
As you and your spouse face these uncertain days, remember that couples who go the distance understand this concept and look for ways to put it into practice. This requires intentionality and the willingness to work together to keep your family finances strong during these challenging times.
© 2020 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at focusonthefamily.com.