For most of us, riding out the pandemic has been a rather costly experience. It has cost us jobs, businesses, savings, and even lives. There are very few industries thriving in this situation, unfortunately ours isn’t one of them. Our main business is construction-related but with all the lockdowns and uncertainties, most construction projects have been put on hold. For us, sales are at their lowest ever. We’ve cut down business hours to four days a week and instead of our usual 9 to 5, we’re working 9 to 3. It’s bad for everyone — business isn’t really making much, employees have had to take pay cuts due to the lessened hours, and the future seems very uncertain. That said, it’s not hard to find yourself in a financial crisis.
For regular folk like us, a financial crisis can simply mean not earning enough to meet basic needs and becoming indebted with seemingly no way to pay. If we ever find ourselves in this situation, what can we do? I’m by no means a financial expert but I have actually been managing my personal finances since I was 12 (I’m in my mid-40s now and I’ve never been bankrupt) so I do have some insight to offer on the topic.
- Identify your biggest expenses. Is it your utility bills? Your credit card debts? It helps to physically list down everything you spend for monthly. You’d be surprised to find that you can actually cut some of them out. It’s kind of like when I went to a slimming center to lose weight. I felt I was not really eating much but when they asked me to list down every single thing I put in my mouth, I was surprised I was actually eating A LOT.
- Stop using your credit card. That’s what my hubby and I did when the lockdowns started. We now pay for everything in cash (whether physically or digitally). We don’t want to wake up one day and find ourselves neck deep in debt. If we can’t pay, we don’t buy. More debts and payables are the last thing you need right now.
- Declutter your home and sell off things that you’re no longer using. Now is not the time for hoarding. If you’ve had something for years and it’s still untouched, chances are you’re never going to be using it. Let it go. You can still recoup part of the item’s value by selling it off. You will be liquidating some of your assets this way.
- Maximize the money you earn. There are many ways to stretch your budget. Little things like turning off the lights, unplugging all appliances that are not in use, minimizing air conditioner use, checking for water leaks… they all contribute to lowering your monthly utility bills. Foregoing unneccessary things like that cup of expensive coffee, milk tea, etc also help. The Bank of America has actually compiled an easy-to-understand infographic on saving money HERE.
- Find a side hustle. The internet has so much to offer in terms of income-generating opportunities these days. Sites like Upwork and Odesk are freelancer marketplaces where you can get paid writing assignments, transcriber projects, and a lot of other jobs.
- Stay positive. Always think that every little step you take helps in getting you out of financial crisis and no effort is too small.
If you’re having a really tough time getting out of debt, you might also want to consider seeking professional help HERE.
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