Is it Time for a Financial “Tune-Up”?

An interesting article in the New York Times came across our path the other day. Entitled “How to Tune Up Your Finances,” this article (login or subscription required, though there are several free articles at the beginning of the month) lays out some actionable steps from experts for examining your finances during the pandemic.

Our thoughts? It’s an excellent article and a great idea for the pandemic period. No matter what the situation you’re in these days, this idea of a financial “tune-up” is an excellent one. Those who might be out of work at this time should be taking a close look ad their financial situation for budgeting purposes; those who are working can take some of their spare time to gauge their economic status, take stock of their assets, and make a plan for the immediate future.

In the COVID pandemic world, one of the best things you can do for your mental health – and long-term stability – is to use the spare time you might have wisely. This is one of the best moves you can make. With the unpredictability of the COVID pandemic and the uncertainty around the world, it’s important now – more than ever – to get a good handle on your finances, for the present and the future. Let’s take a little bit of a deeper look at some of the other suggestions that the article delivers:

  • Make an inventory. The article’s first expert recommendation is to take a hard-and-fast look at the total state of your finances. We agree. Now’s the time to see where you stand. Go through everything. List out all of the assets you have in stocks, bonds, real estate, retirement accounts, and any other place you might have some cash stored. Match that against total debts. Take a hard look at financial standing. You might be surprised (one way or the other) at what you find, but it will provide that dose of realism this situation demands.
  • Give every dollar a job.” The article recommends putting every buck you have to work in various creative ways. We’re not sure about some of the suggestions here. Opening up separate bank accounts for different aspects of purchasing or going back to using cash for financial planning purchases sounds a little excessive – not to mention confusing. Is that added structure really what we need in quarantine? Instead, let’s take the “give every dollar a job” advice and apply it to something like the stimulus package. Make that money work the best it can. Use what you need to from that amount for basic living expenses, and be judicious with the rest. Do the same with paychecks and any other money you might have coming in on a regular biasis.
  • Cut back on subscription services. Ironic – coming from a website with a subscription service – but the advice is good. All of those different services you might be paying for can start adding up. Just think about all of the streaming services, for example. Do you really need Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, HBO Max, Quibi, and any other service that might be doing some virtual programming? Can you perhaps split subscriptions with family members or others that could use it? Also, check to see if you’re still paying for services you might not ever lose. You might be surprised at what you’re still paying for. Check your bank statements for the last month thoroughly and investigate anything you might have a question about.

We’re all aware of how difficult times are in this COVID pandemic world. A key element of keeping your head above water is making sure your finances are in good shape. Reading this article – and implementing some of its advice – is a great place to start.