How to manage your finances during COVID-19

Even if you don’t catch the virus, you’re still financially vulnerable to the fallout
By Kaydee dela Buena

How to manage your finances during covid-19
There are a lot of ways to keep your finances in order amid a pandemic—and even after that.
In an attempt to reduce exposure and contain the coronavirus, enhanced community lockdown was deemed necessary. As a result, restaurants, retailers, and other businesses were asked to temporarily halt operations. 

Health is obviously the top priority during this tumultuous period. But for Filipinos living paycheck-to-paycheck, the abrupt loss of income brings heavy financial strain. While, indeed, a crisis, you can still be in control of other matters, like your personal budget. 

With economic uncertainty continuing to mount, there are still ways on how to keep your finances in order amid a pandemic—and maybe even after that. 

1. Implement a 50/30/20 budget rule

The pandemic has made all our futures a little uncertain, so in crisis, it’s better to be conservative in your expenses. Be stricter with your budget allocations, prioritizing survival needs such as food, rent, and hospitalization. 

Rule of thumb: 50% of your income goes to basic necessities, 30% are for personal wants like entertainment, and then finally, 20% are allocated towards your financial goals like paying off debts and insurance investments. It’s important at this time to take a few hours to think about how you can protect the future of your family, no matter what happens. 

2. Don’t hoard

Since the pandemic started, empty grocery shelves have become normal as more and more people resort to panic buying. Before you give into the impulse, make an assessment first of your current supplies. Consider the size of the household and buy only enough. If you’re living with an infant, disabled person, or elderly, you may want to prioritize their medical and dietary needs first. 

The government has already set up protocols so as not to hamper the supply of goods. So, there’s no need to hoard canned goods and disinfectants when you still have full cabinets to last you for months. Not only will your wallet thank you, but also your community. 

3. Cut back on non-essential spends

During home quarantine, it’s hard not to miss the things you used to enjoy outside, like going to the movies or dining out. But why not use your free time at home and pick up a new skill or hobby? Work on that long overdue passion project or try out new recipes. Practical skills are a top money-saver and you literally have no excuse not to do them. After all, what’s the point of reducing your usual expenses if you’ll keep on using those delivery apps anyway—your milk tea can wait.

4. Build an emergency fund

In a time of great uncertainty, having a financial fallback is critical. Workplace closures could mean layoffs and cuts. If you’re one of those affected, start with your reduced level of income or current assets. Categorize your budget expenses and strategically spend your money. Since you’ll be cutting back your usual expenses while at home, add what you can to supplement your emergency budget to help you cover the next months’ expenses. Remember, no amount is too big or small to make a difference. 

5. Identify alternate revenue sources

Aside from cost savings, there are still ways as to how you can generate income even when at home. Almost everything’s done online anyway, even before the pandemic happened. 

Online job opportunities are aplenty these days. Consider applying for one which you can do in the evenings or weekends if you still have your current 9 to 5 job. Whether it’s online tutoring or writing for blogs, you’re bound to find one that fits your skill set. All these don't require any investment, except your time and ideally a stable internet connection. 

If you’re a business owner, pivot your business. Some restaurants have restarted their operations to pave way for take outs and deliveries. Groceries and supermarkets are now available online, too, which allows consumers to save time instead of waiting in lines. If you’re a fitness trainer, consider holding live workout sessions for your clients. The key is to understand the potential of each alternative, and see if you can direct your business in the short-term. 

Cutting back on certain expenses altogether might not be an ideal situation, but if it means staying financially afloat during this crisis. Then by all means, save away. It’s also important to prepare for anything financially, so you can make sure that the life you’ve built for your family is secure.