By, State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt
Spring has finally sprung! We are beginning to come out of quarantine and find a routine once again. During this “stay at home” time, I heard from many who dug into their closets and garages. Some of which have not been cleaned or organized in years. I found things I didn’t know I had! Honestly, it feels so good to throw out the junk and have a fresh start! Though I find it natural when the seasons change. Aren’t we all motivated to do the deep cleaning? However, we typically forget to include our finances in that deep clean.
Now is the perfect time to review budgets. How has this virus affected your finances? Did you need to reduce expenses? Can those reductions be made permanent? Are there costs you need to take another look at and reassess? When was the last time you reviewed your bank statement? Do you have accounts set up years ago and no longer use? Sometimes, the financial institution will charge a fee to maintain an open account. That $3 a month fee could likely buy a tank of gas at the end of the year!
Other ways to review your finances include a look at your spending habits. We have all been home for the last several weeks, out of our routine. I know for our family, this certainly has changed the balance in our checkbook—more on groceries, less on gas, and fewer shopping trips. We have been trying to support our favorite eating places by ordering delivery or purchasing a gift card. How about you? Will you continue on your new path or fall back to your pre virus routines? Could you keep some of these new habits? Visit with your family and determine what works for you.
If you’ve saved money while being quarantined, what do you plan to do with that savings? Is there a federal student loan now on administrative forbearance? A couple of extra payments during this interest-free period would be money well spent. Maybe some home maintenance or paying down on debt? Every bit helps. Perhaps you may need to use these extra dollars for catching up? That’s ok too! If you are fortunate enough to be debt-free, you could add to your retirement account. Your future self will thank you for the extra contribution.
An adjustment from the goals we set at the beginning of the year may be necessary. It’s ok. No one expected the need to maneuver through a global pandemic. Most likely, we will need to adjust our expectations and make different plans for the remainder of the year. Crazy times!
Finally, do you know where all your essential documents are? Now is a perfect time to pull these documents together and save them electronically, a vital back up for you and your family during critical times. If you do not have a scanner, take a picture of each page and save it so that you can access it from wherever you are. An excellent way to cut down on the paper clutter in your home and provide easy access to everything.
I hope you can get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh spring air. Sunshine makes a smile grow larger! Enjoy a cup of coffee on the porch while reviewing your bank statements. It will make a mundane task a bit special. Be well, and remember, we are all in this together!