By Bryan Lee, CFP®, MBA
If you’re like most of us, you’ve suddenly found yourself spending much of your time at home. With the absence of commuting, socializing, or other outside-the-home activities, you may be wondering how you can make the best use of your time and develop daily routines that work well for you, while at the same time trying not to feel that you’ve found yourself trapped in that Bill Murray classic, Groundhog Day. Maybe try to pick just one or two of the below suggestions over the next week or two to help shake things up a bit.
1. Declutter and Organize
There’s a reason why we tend to put paperwork off as long as possible—it seems like a daunting task! But just think of how you’ll feel when it’s all done. Start with shredding old bank statements, pay stubs, and any unneeded documents that have your personal information on them from more than two months ago. This decreases the risk of identity theft, frees up extra space, and allows you to find important documents much faster. Most banks, credit unions, and employers keep a digital file of all these statements should you need them for any reason.
Other documents related to investments, home improvements, and taxes should be kept for seven years (either paper or digitally). Use the following link to find more details on what records to keep and for how long. If you’re unsure whether something should be kept, consider scanning and uploading it to the My Documents folder of your Wealth Management System vault.
2. Check Your Credit
Did you know you can access your credit report for free? You can now receive new credit reports weekly from annualcreditreport.com (previously just once per year) and a free TransUnion and Equifax report once a week from creditkarma.com with your updated credit scores. Doing all your banking, shopping, vacation bookings, and investments online are great for convenience, but having that personal information transmitted through the internet means you might be more susceptible to cyberattacks and identity theft. As a result, there is a higher chance that someone could obtain that information and start using your credit without you being aware of it. So even if you know the exact balance and interest rate from every creditor you pay, staying on top of your credit will alert you to any suspicious behavior.
3. Revamp Your Budget/Spending Plan
Whether you religiously follow your spending plan or haven’t looked at it in quite a while, now is an ideal time to revisit your spending and become intentional about where your money goes. Some of us are facing a loss of income and need to make some spending cuts, while others are saving money by eating more at home and filling up our gas tanks less often. Anytime you face a significant life change, your spending plan needs to be adjusted as well.
4. Make Time to Take Care of Yourself – Mind, Body, and Soul
Exercise can be just as important for your mental health as it is for you physically. With spring finally here, make sure to treat yourself to at least a daily taste of nature and the outdoors while doing so safely. Yoga, biking, meditation, running, hiking or that daily walk with your pet are all great ways to stay mentally and physically sharp and help feed what we all as humans need, especially during stressful times. If ever I forget or try to skip out on my daily walk, my boxer, Max, is certain to remind me how important it is for me to get in a daily dose of exercise.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet, exercising, and getting a full night of great sleep are all crucial to make sure you’re at your best to be able to thrive through these unusual circumstances we all together are facing.
It's also important to make sure that you’re taking breaks away from news and social media. Although it can certainly be good to stay informed, your mind and body need a break to help them stay fresh and focused.
5. Help Others
There are plenty of ways to stay compliant with social distancing regulations while still taking the time to feel good by helping others. Some ideas might include:
Offer to get groceries for at-risk neighbors and family members
Donate to local food banks
Provide meals to local hospital workers
Find out what your favorite charity/non-profits’ needs are currently
Purchase gift cards to local restaurants and give them to others or plan to use them later (a win-win for small businesses trying to stay afloat)
We hope that everyone stays healthy and safe while doing their best to support themselves and their communities during this time. As we all endure the emotional and mental stress of the coming weeks, it’s comforting to know there are things we can do to make it better.
Reap the Rewards
Now that you are completely aware of your financial situation and know where to find things when you need them, you’ll experience added peace of mind—just when it’s needed. To make sure you haven’t missed anything, allow Strategic Financial Planning to walk you through a financial checkup and help you set some financial goals.