Re-evaluating Our Priorities – the Pandemic Plan

posted in: home, life skills, money, problem solving | 0

School is finally underway, this is the first day of September and two-thirds of 2020 is over. The plan we made at the beginning of the year has changed because of the pandemic. Because of careful budgeting and planning, we are good, but we need to chart a new course and take a different path. The destination will be the same, we’re just taking a bit of a detour.

The Pandemic Plan

We have been staying home and safe, saving more money cooking at home and going out less. It’s been healthier overall plus I feel like we have more time together since we aren’t out and about so much. This has given us more time to consider what we really want out of life and where we want to go. We have been fortunate and we need to make the most of the time we are given.

Extra time at home has allowed us to have deeper discussions with our kids. We have been talking a lot about money. It’s not a taboo subject in this house mainly because we want our kids to be better than us. Because I joined the Motivated Mama Society, I have really been going over my history with money. I realized there are some big lessons I need to pass on to my kids.

Life’s Lessons

As a family we have always considered our spending together. I appreciate when everyone doesn’t ask for unnecessary things, and we stick to our budget. These lessons are important when the boys go off to college and they’re on their own. We have made mistakes in the past, but we learned and have worked to correct them over the years. I’m passing on these lessons so they will learn from my mistakes.

I wish I never got a student loan

It is a hefty burden that continues to linger. I honestly didn’t think I was eligible to get scholarships. Now that I’m applying to colleges with my son, I realize I could have gotten some scholarships if I just took the time and effort to look. I trusted the people that were handling my application and what they told me. Currently we’re in the college application process and will be working on finding the best options for higher education without student loans as much as possible.

  1. Question everything, especially the fine print. Questions are never stupid.
  2. Ask for a second opinion or do the research on your own so you can come to your own conclusion.
  3. Before you buy anything, it’s better to step back and look at the pros and cons of this choice vs another
  4. Or better yet this choice vs waiting and not spending the money.

Be careful of credit cards

I spent years believing credit cards were bad. I got my first credit card the first year in college. I felt like I was finally an adult. No one told me what I needed to check or look out for. I maxed it out of course because I really didn’t have the courage to ask anyone or do my own research.

In college I was busy studying, going out with my friends, and before you know it I had my college degree, but no real job or way to pay off the cards. The lessons started to sink in. I panicked and my money mindset went into scarcity mode. The problem then is what if you don’t have enough money to pay for all your living expenses and the card payments? That’s debt – another huge lesson on it’s own!

  1. Check the APR (annual percentage rate) this is the price you pay to use their money.
  2. Avoid cards with a yearly fee when possible.
  3. Read the fine print… what are the penalties and fees?

We still need credit

Credit cards are not bad as long as you know how to use them correctly. I didn’t trust myself or Hubby with cards, but when emergencies came up and bills came all at once there were times when we were short on cash. Plus when you are looking for a house, they are looking for credit history and we went from bad to none.

  1. Pay your balance in full every money or at least 2xs the minimum payment.
  2. Automate your payments so you never miss.
  3. Keep your balance to 30% of your limit.

Then one year, we got hacked. We used debit Visa cards to pay for everything thinking we had the same protections as credit cards. Wrong. So we started with two cards especially because we like to shop online.

With credit card fraud, the card issuer’s money is at stake. With debit card fraud, your money has been stolen.

Kevin Cash, Nerd Wallet, Credit Card vs. Debit Card: Which Is Safer Online?

When hubby had a stroke, the few cards we had really helped. Everyone wants their money upfront or no service. With the cards we were able to take those huge bills and break them up into more manageable payments. We also got other benefits like cash back on purchases that helped to cover the cost of interest.

Things you can learn now

In the midst of the pandemic, there are things we can put into practice while we have the extra time. We’re going to lay the groundwork for successful money management.

Make money now

For kids, do this while you’re home. This is the time when you can experiment safely. There’s no risk since we’ve got your back with home expenses. The important part is finding what works best to still allow you time for studying and fun. We are not just balancing budgets, but time for living. If you can earn money now, you can improve and do it again.

Plus if you choose a business that has passive income, you will always have that extra even while you’re in school.

For adults, this is the time to figure out what we can do from home. We will be living differently for a while so that just means we have to be more creative about our side hustles.

Keep track of your money with a budgeting app

We’re going to get you started with YNAB – You Need A Budget. It’s taken me some time to figure it out, but I feel like it’s sinking in. You should know always know how much you have and where you money goes. Revisit your budget often and cut down/out anything that you really don’t need.

Automate payments as much as possible so you don’t end up paying late fees and do a 5-minute check-in on your money every day. There might be a charge you forgot about, or a payment might not have gone through. Or there might even be a charge in error… worst case would be fraud. We just have to check.

Automate your savings

Even $5 a week will accumulate in those times of emergency. We need emergency funds since we never know what the future holds.

The pandemic caught so many of us off guard. Our extra funds helped cover living expenses since Hubby couldn’t work. We still save as much as we can and have really cut back on what we spend because the future is still unknown. We just have to make the best of what we have and set up a pandemic plan.