Financial security is something that should never stray too far from your mind, regardless of the circumstances. No matter how comfortable you get, or how heavily your income outpaces your expenses, you’re never shielded fully from disaster — and the global COVID-19 outbreak has been making that truth abundantly clear throughout recent weeks, causing many businesses to struggle and leaving their employees either furloughed or fired.
No one knows exactly how long these lockdown conditions will last. The severity might start to lessen in the coming months, but it’s also possible that we might not see a return to normalcy until next year — or it may take even longer. As a result, we can’t simply view it as a blip to be briefly endured. The most practical approach is to treat it as a permanent shift.
In light of all of this, you need to put a lot of thought into achieving financial security while lockdown orders are in effect . At a minimum, you can protect what you have, and if you adapt well then you can end up doing better than you were before. Here are five tips to help you:
1. Work as much as you can
This isn’t the time to be relaxing or getting complacent. If you’re lucky enough to have been relatively unaffected by all of this — maybe you already worked from home for a company that hasn’t been limited by conditions — then make the most of that fortune by working hard. You can’t know the future, and if a domino effect eventually causes your company to struggle, you don’t want to be a prime candidate for being furloughed or fired.
If you’re not currently working, of course, then you should try as hard as you can to find work: enough to fill a full-time schedule, and anything more you can get. There may be a lot of people unemployed at the moment due to this crisis, but there’s also opportunity stemming from so many companies now being willing to hire remote workers, so try to take advantage of it.
You can also make an effort to go into business for yourself if you have a relevant idea. Depending on your skills, you could sell shirts online, position yourself as a consultant, create a crowdfunding pitch for a business… If you think you could get paid for something, give it a try.
2. Insure everything you have
When your home becomes your office, security gets even more important. If someone with a traditional 9-to-5 gets robbed, they can at least keep working using their workplace setup: if someone with a home office spends two hours navigating lockdown-induced queues only to get home and discover that all their hardware has been stolen, they’re left in the lurch.
At a minimum, you need great locks at your place and whichever room contains your home office equipment. If you can get a CCTV camera up outside, it can help. Additionally, it’s vitally important that you insure your belongings : contents insurance can go overlooked due to businesses insuring the equipment passed to their employees, but the average remote worker will end up combining business hardware with their belongings (a work laptop with a home screen, for instance), so business insurance isn’t going to cover everything.
3. Keep your spending down
Stuck at home, unable to go on that vacation you were envisioning… surely it’s a good idea to find some other fun way to spend that money. You can still get things delivered, after all. You could buy a new motorcycle, perhaps, or indulge in luxury foods. My suggestion: don’t do anything like that. Keep your spending down, and save your money. You might need it.
Remember that we’re in this for the long haul, and no form of employment is guaranteed in this situation. The last thing you want to do is blow through your savings then lose your job. Stick to buying the essentials with only occasional luxuries, and leave a healthy buffer between what you make and what you spend.
4. Network in your industry
Is this an odd time for networking? On the contrary, it’s an excellent time for networking, because you know that almost all of the people you target will be at home most of the time. Everyone’s in the same position, really, and you can take advantage of that to strike up a conversation with those you otherwise wouldn’t have been willing to approach.
Spend more time on general social media if you’re so inclined, or stick to a platform like LinkedIn — or even just use emails or phone/VoIP calls to reach people. Ask for advice wherever you can. Everyone likes being viewed as an expert and authority, and if you help distract them from this pandemic, they’ll likely be perfectly happy to go to bat for you with anyone they know who could offer you employment.
5. Safely invest your savings
I mentioned keeping your spending down, limiting it to essentials, but you can essentially ‘spend’ your money and save it at the same time through the fascinating world of investment. This is a turbulent time, so commit to embracing safe bets: savings accounts that are guaranteed to payout down the line, or assets that are very likely to appreciate with minimal risk (if in doubt, though, keep your money).
If you don’t know anything about investment, this is a good time to learn. There’s no shortage of websites and courses full of free information about the investment world: put in one weekend of solid effort and you’ll have a solid grounding (enough to assess the stability of an investment opportunity with reasonable accuracy).
Over to you…
Financial security isn’t wholly under your control, and this pandemic has proven a stark reminder of that fact — but there’s a lot you can do to improve your chance of getting to the other side of this with your finances in a good position. Use the suggestions we’ve looked at to safeguard your money, and settle in for a long battle. This will take a while.
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