Over the last two months, the world has seemingly turned upside down. I don’t need to go into detail because you know what I’m talking about. Health crisis. Financial crisis. Social crisis. It seems like everything on the news and in social media is all negative.
But, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. It’s not all bad. In fact, a lot of good can come from what we are going through right now. Don’t believe me? Here are 11 ways to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and come out the other end better off.
1. Keep Investing
It may seem counterintuitive, but a financial crisis is one of the best times to invest. That is because when stock prices decline, you can get more for your money and there is more upside potential. For example, if you bought $20 of Ford Motor Company stock (This is not an investment recommendation, it is a randomly selected stock for illustrative purposes.) on January 2, 2020, you would have gotten 2.12 shares. If you invested that same $20 on March 23, you would have received 4.99 shares of stock.
What would the results be if 5 years from now Ford stock increases to a share price of $12? The January 2 investment would have grown from $20 to $25.44 for a 27% gain. The March 23 investment, however, would grow to $59.88 for almost a 200% increase. As you can see, after stock values have declined, it may be a great time to be investing for the long term.
2. Enjoy Time With Your Family
Enjoy your family. While you may not have a choice about being together, you do get to decide the quality of your time together. Take advantage of this time to build memories, resolve conflict, and get to know each other in new ways. Savor this season of togetherness and transform it into a time that you will cherish for decades to come.
3. Improve Yourself
If you have young kids like I do this may not apply, but for many of you, you have more time on your hands right now. Even if you’re still working full-time, you’re not going out or watching sports in your free time. Instead of binge-watching Netflix or hanging out on social media, use this time to better yourself.
Have you ever wanted to learn something new? Take college courses for free on coursera.org or MITx. The University of Illinois has their entire MBA program on Coursera for free. Want to learn a new language? Check out Duolingo or Babbel. If there are certifications that will improve your career or make you more marketable, now is the time to do them.
Your brain isn’t the only thing you can improve during this time. For internal growth, spend some extra time alone with God or pick up a book like The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. Externally you can get into shape as well. If prisoners who are isolated can stay fit, so can you. YouTube is full of workout videos that can be done right in your living room. How would it feel to emerge from this lockdown smarter, healthier, and closer to God?
4. Lower Your Costs
One of the best things about sheltering in place is that you don’t spend as much money. There just isn’t as much to spend money on. Take advantage of this opportunity to lower your expenses, even if it is only temporary. Every dollar saved is a dollar that can go towards your emergency fund, your investments, or your neighbors in need.
There are other ways to lower your expenses than just not spending money. Ask for discounts on the things that you are spending money on. Many companies are eager to keep their customers and are willing to give you a break. If you have credit card debt, call your lender and ask for a lower interest rate. Review your insurance coverage to make sure you aren’t paying for duplicate or unnecessary coverage. Contact your cable or internet provider and negotiate better rates. You would be surprised how much money you can save if you’re not too shy to ask.
5. Reconsider Your Needs And Wants
Are there things you always thought you couldn’t live without that you haven’t even missed? Or things that you took for granted that you’re desperate to have back? These things could be financial, like pedicures or Starbucks coffee, or they could be more intangible, like church fellowship or going hiking.
With your normal life upended, it is a good time to evaluate your response to the changes and reconsider your needs and wants. Does the way that you spend your time and money really reflect your priorities? You may realize that making a few adjustments will lead to a more fulfilling life.
6. Accept Help If You Need It
One of the good things about the fact that everyone is struggling at the same time is that a lot of people and organizations are stepping up to help. Even the federal government has increased aid to those whose jobs have been affected with the CARES Act. If you have lost income, don’t be embarrassed to file for benefits. You and your employers have been paying taxes for years for such a time as this.
7. Prepare For Your Next Step
Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business or wondered what it would be like to turn a passion into a side hustle? There is no better time to start down that path than now. Start doing your research and come up with a game plan. There are a lot of resources being offered for free right now to help you do it, like the Smart Passive Income Smart From Scratch online course or Will If Fly? ebook.
Even if entrepreneurship doesn’t interest you, take advantage of this forced time to slow down and be reflective of where you want to go in life, why, and how. Don’t just think about it. Research it, learn about it, and come up with an actionable plan.
8. Refinance Debt
The Federal Reserve has slashed interest rates and you stand to benefit from it. Mortgage rates recently recorded their lowest level since they started tracking them in 1971. If you plan on staying in your home for at least several more years, it might make sense to refinance your mortgage. For help with the analysis, sign up for one of our Quick Start Sessions.
Homeowners aren’t the only ones who can benefit from low interest rates. Anyone with debt can. Student loans can be refinanced, auto loans can be refinanced, just about any debt can. Even dropping your interest rate by just half of a percentage point on a long-term loan can add up to significant savings.
9. Reassess Your Lifestyle
Are you enjoying relaxing family meals? Do you breathe a sigh of relief knowing you won’t have to spend all afternoon carting kids from one activity to the next? If so, have you been honest enough with yourself to question why you were doing all of that in the first place?
Now that you have been forced to press “pause” on your life, take some time to reassess your current lifestyle. Is this really what you want? Why do you do what you do? This is your opportunity to reshape your lifestyle into one that will leave you with no regrets in your old age.
10. Count Your Blessings
While everyone else is mourning their losses, why not take the time to count your blessings? Don’t just stop with the obvious blessings, like your family, your home, or your financial planner. Be creative and thank God for the little things, like the smell of your neighbor’s lilacs, the feel of the warm sun on your back, even the softness of your pillow!
Sometimes our blessings are disguised as challenges. I’ve been struggling with the loss of control I feel over my life and my circumstances. But isn’t it a blessing to know that we have an omniscient, omnipresent, and all-powerful God that is in control and it isn’t all on our own shoulders?
11. Plan For Your Future
One of the hardest things about this current season is that no one knows when it will end. It’s hard to make any kind of plans, whether it’s a birthday party, vacation, or even a date night out.
Even though you may not be able to plan activities or your schedule, there are some things that you can plan for. Whether the social distancing lasts 2 months or 2 years, you will still need to retire someday. You may have kids that you want to send to college or you may want to go yourself. Maybe you just want to put together a plan so that you’re in a better position if something like this ever happens again.
Whatever your life goals, having a plan for your finances will make them more attainable. Now is the time to develop a financial plan so that when the dust settles, you will know you’re heading in the right direction and have a clear path to follow. If you want help developing a plan for your finances that covers every area of your life—from cash flow to investing to insurance—Guide Financial Planning can help. Schedule a free call or read about our services to learn more.
About Guide Financial Planning
Guide Financial Planning is led by founder Ben Wacek, who is a Christian fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ and Certified Kingdom Advisor®. He has a passion to help people of all income levels make wise financial decisions and steward their resources from an eternal perspective using Biblical principles. Based in Minneapolis, MN, he works with clients both locally and virtually throughout the country and abroad. You can follow the links to learn more about Guide Financial Planning and our team and the services we offer.