To say that 2020 has been a crazy year would be an understatement! It feels like our world has been turned upside down.
Some of you have lost income, hours, or even your jobs because of the pandemic. Those financial goals you made on January 1st are out the window, because you’re focused on covering your basic needs. I know it might feel like there’s no point in setting new goals for yourself, but here’s the thing: There are things you can control when it comes to getting your finances in order.
Wherever you are and whatever you’re feeling about this year, you have plenty of time to get back on track. Here are a few ways to reach your financial goals before 2020 comes to an end.
Maybe your New Year’s resolutions weren’t realistic, or maybe your income has been impacted because of COVID-19. Sometimes life just happens. And when life happens, you need to adjust your goals to reflect that.
Look at where you are with your money today, and decide where you want to be by the end of the year. Just factor in the amount of time left, and make sure your goals reflect the situation you’re in. You have the power to say, “Hey, my reality at the start of this year is not my reality now. But I’m going to start making progress toward my future today.”
By the way, if you’ve lost part or all of your income, your goal now is to get a job—any job. Money flows two ways: It flows in, and it flows out. You can cut down on expenses, but that’s only part of the equation. You need money flowing in. You may need to take a job outside of your field in order to stay afloat right now. And that’s okay!
Get back to budgeting
No matter where you’re at financially, a budget is the most important thing when it comes to being successful with money. If you don’t tell your money where to go, you’ll wonder where it went.
To get started, assess how you’ve spent your money over the past few months. Look for areas where you can cut back, like dining out, groceries, and monthly subscriptions. Now, reassign that money to your bills or goals. I know it’s a bummer to cancel Taco Tuesday and Target runs, but trust me on this. You’ll feel so much less stressed knowing you’re making progress.
If you’ve lost your income completely, budget whatever money you have to cover your Four Walls—food, utilities, shelter and transportation. These needs come first.
Build an emergency fund
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that emergencies happen. Before the pandemic, 78% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck.1 So when an emergency hit, they weren’t prepared.
If that’s you, there’s still hope. Start by building a $1,000 starter emergency fund. From there, I want you to pay off your debts, from smallest to largest, regardless of interest rate. This is called the debt snowball, and we see people pay off their debt in an average of 18 to 24 months using this method. Once you’re debt-free, you’re ready to build a fully-funded emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses. Having that cash in the bank can turn a crisis into a mere inconvenience.
You don’t have to wait for a new year to set new goals, or make progress toward the goals you’ve set. In order to win with money later, you have to be intentional with it today!
Rachel Cruze is a two-time #1 national best-selling author, financial expert and host of The Rachel Cruze Show. She has appeared on Good Morning America, TODAY Show and Live! With Kelly & Ryan, among others. Since 2010, Rachel has served at Ramsey Solutions, where she teaches people to avoid debt, save money, budget and how to win with money at any stage in life. Follow Rachel on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube or online at rachelcruze.com.