By: Kelly Majdan, AIF, QPFC, CRPS – Managing Director, Pensionmark
When I left the corporate world to go independent, I entered the realm of the home-based office world and all the challenges that come with it. Staying focused, finding the balance between work and home, what to do when the kids came home from school, not to mention what to do during breaks when the kids were home all the time, has been an adventure, to say the least! However, this was a choice I purposely made, so I would say I was a bit more mentally prepared to take on the challenge. Now many of us are facing this challenge and facing it rather quickly, leaving many with no time to prepare. When something like this is not a choice, but more of a mandated situation with little time to prepare mentally or to adjust your environment, the challenge can be even more daunting, especially if you have an entire family involved!!
How this plays out on your short-term and long-term finances and health might be greatly influenced by the choices you make as you adjust to this new temporary normal. What follows are a few suggestions to help you find some balance now and to hopefully side-step some financial hurdles in the future when all returns to “normal” again.
Finding a Financial Balance
Finding financial balance in your investment life.
These are going to be trying times market-wise. No one has a crystal ball to tell you what will happen, no one in the news media knows either, all we do know from history is that this will pass, eventually. In our recent Market Bulletin: Don’t Fear the Bear and webinar 6 Tips for Coping with Market Volatility we discussed some financial strategies that might help you find balance in your approach to your investments and provides some perspective based on past events.
Finding financial balance in your daily living.
With all of us moving to online shopping, make sure to watch your credit cards for nefarious purchases. In the flurry of purchases on Amazon to maintain our social distancing; we received a notification from our credit card company that some purchases didn’t look quite right. As we sifted through the purchases with our credit card company, we indeed had been violated. With more of us shopping online, it is important to monitor your credit cards to make sure those charges are truly your purchases and it might be good to monitor your spending as well. It can be tempting to fill the void with online shopping!
Finding financial balance in your overall financial life.
Even though you are home, you still need to get work done, however, if you were commuting a half hour or more before to work, you may now have a little more time in the day to divert to some of those financial tasks you might have put off before, such as working on your budget. Since all players might be home, this could be a good time to sit down and go over the family budget. As you review your credit cards to make sure no one is using them besides you, take the time to break down where you are spending your money and take note of those recurring charges, like Netflix, Audible and the like. It will be helpful to know where your money is going so you can tell it where to go. Make sure to be mindful of your conversations with your family on spending – life is stressful enough right now, no need to add extra stress, but it is good to have some constructive discussions about your finances that will set you on a better financial path moving forward.
Finding a Health Balance
Finding a healthy balance by keeping a schedule.
It is tempting to fall into a laissez-faire approach to working from home, but you will soon find that you are getting nothing done which could lead to more stress. It is important to stick to a schedule, especially if you now have kids at home that are still in school, albeit virtually. Get up when you would have gotten up before, keep the same morning routine you had before this change. If you got up early to walk the dog then got dressed and took the kids to school, do something similar. Get up at the same time, walk the dog – your furry friend will appreciate it – and get dressed for work. Get the kids up for virtual school as well and have them stick to their typical morning schedule; they need the routine too! Keep the same evening routine too, go to bed on time, don’t be tempted to stay up later than you normally do. Like us, you might even be able to add some sit down dinner time now, especially if you are typically running kids to some sort of practice in the evenings. Bottom line here is that you will feel more in control and less stressed if you keep to a schedule that is familiar and comfortable to you.
Finding a healthy balance by taking care of yourself physically.
What I found interesting when first working from home was how often I found myself in the kitchen looking for food when I wasn’t really hungry. Don’t let the pantry call to you like the Sirens in the Odyssey. Your schedule will help you avoid this Siren’s call. Also, sticking to a workout routine, or adding one, will help as well. Even if it is just taking a walk mid-day. Maybe there is a hobby you wanted to take up or spend more time on. Build some time into your schedule to do both – the walk will keep you physically healthy and get you out of the house. Your hobby will help you from a stress level by working on something you enjoy. Anything to keep you from packing on the extra weight that can come with having too much idle time on your hands will help you avoid unnecessary stops at the pantry and gains on the scale.
Finding a healthy balance by controlling your stress level.
First off – turn off the news! It will be extremely tempting to keep your favorite news channel on 24/7 so you do not miss the next update, but that adds unnecessary stress! We cannot control what is going on outside our four walls so don’t even try. What you can control is how you react and respond to the world around you. By focusing on controlling your activities throughout the day, sticking to a schedule and building in some downtime with the family, and maybe some friends will help with your stress. Playing games, talking walks, facetime with friends and a good old-fashion call with distant family and friends will do wonders for the soul. You can still check in on the news periodically throughout the day, but try not to let it consume you, instead spend time where you find enjoyment and make sure to get some sleep!! With everyone home, you are going to need it!
These are definitely going to be trying times for all of us. But it will pass, and we will all be stronger because of it. Make sure to take good care of yourself and your family during this time, summer will be here before you know it and hopefully, this will soon be behind us.
To your health and safety!