Personal Finance Checklist You Need After Quarantine
As we have seen in recent weeks, the financial markets are beginning to recover here in Canada. This is great news for investors as we begin to see the markets trend upwards. While we will have to wait and see if the market recovery is sustained, there are some personal finance aspects you may need to evaluate due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. At Retire on Time, we strive to give you helpful information that will move you closer to your savings goals. This is why we created an 8-point checklist that can get you on the path to savings after quarantine. Follow along with the checklist to see how many things you have already done or need to do.
Re-think your banking
The world of banking is constantly evolving.
You may want to look at your charges at your financial institution and if you are not happy ask your financial institution about how you can lower your cost by bundling services. Also, you may want to shop around as some banks or credit unions offer lower fees for internet banking.
People are moving away from cash and cheques to E-Transfer and online banking. If you want to re-imagine your banking, we would highly suggest downloading your bank’s online banking app, if they have one, and researching all the features your bank offers to make online banking easier. Transitioning to banking online may seem daunting or intimidating but, with a little bit of help from the bank or even family and friends, you will feel confident and comfortable banking online in no time. This change can help you bank efficiently, post-pandemic, with paying bills online or depositing cheques through your phone. Online banking will save you a lot of time and it also allows you to handle less cash and stop the spread of germs.
Working from home can save you a lot money
During this pandemic, working from home is becoming very common. If you are able to work from your home, it opens up the door for a magnitude of savings. You won’t be paying for your commute to work every day, whether that be gas for driving or your transit ticket for the bus or train. You can also easily make the switch from buying your lunch and coffee every day to making these at home which could add up to savings of $300 a month at least.
If you aren’t able to work from home full-time, it is worth exploring whether you could work part-time out of your house. Even two to three days a week could save you more money than you think!
Evaluate your advisor’s performance
As we enter new phases of the pandemic, it is a great time to evaluate your financial advisor. Take a look at your accounts, investments and goals and think about how your advisor handled your personal finances during the pandemic. Were you set up with an existing emergency fund that you might have needed? Did they calm your nerves when you started seeing the market turn downwards? This pandemic is a great test to evaluate your advisor’s competence and how compatible you both are.
If your advisor met or exceeded your expectations, let him/her know! If they didn’t, it may be time to move your finances somewhere else or let the individual know what your expectations are moving forward.
Evaluate your points cards and rewards systems
These days when people are trying to save more, cash-back and rewards systems are a great idea. Since our travelling and international vacations have all been put on hold, it may be the perfect time to switch from travel points to cash-back points such as Air Miles Cash Miles or PC Optimum. Being able to put your points toward necessary items like gas or groceries could be a gamechanger in this economy.
Don’t panic over the market, but be prepared
If you have money in the stock markets right now, you are probably constantly wondering what is going to happen. When the market went down in March and then rebounded right back up merely weeks later, it showed investors that the market is resilient. Although, seeing a major fluctuation like we did can be a scare. Now may be a good time to reconsider your risk profile particularly if you are nearing retirement and need to protect your principal.
Your investments may still be down compared to what they were pre-pandemic. Until the volatility in the markets subsides you may want to consider an increased portion of your savings in principal protected investments (GICs, or other oprincipal protected investsments).
Make plans for travelling
A great way to focus on the future is to plan a vacation for when the pandemic has subsided and local or international travel is allowed, again. Add what you can to a travel fund and talk with your family or friends about places where you’d like to go once travel restrictions are over. Most people would like a change of scenery after staying home for months and, by having a plan in place, it will give you something tangible to save for.
Keep your spending in check
As people are staying home more during quarantine, or if they are working from home, they tend to spend more online. Creating a “Pandemic Budget” can be a great way to keep your spending in check and may provide longer term ways to budget better. Evaluate all the ways you are saving from staying home more, and adjust your savings each month so you don’t get tempted with extra cash sitting in your account.
Keep on top of your savings and emergency fund
The recent scare of the pandemic has shown us just how important having an emergency fund is. During a time when many people lost or have a temporary hold on their jobs, it put a spotlight on emergency savings. Having an accessible savings fund is key for any household. We never know what will happen, but this pandemic has shown us that we should always be prepared. During the pandemic, keep up with your savings to protect you against any other market fluctuations that may arise.
Going through this checklist can help you get back on track with your finances after quarantine. Many things have changed these past months, but you should always feel confident with your personal finances. If you have already done some of these, then you are ahead of the curve! If you have now added these tasks to your to-do list, you are on the right track. It is important that, as we begin to get back to normal, we stay vigilante with our savings and personal finances.
If you have any questions or wish to talk to an advisor, please reach out to me, Brian Moylett, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call/text at 778-951-2806. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have and help in any way that I can.
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