Let’s face it, none of us have had a lot of spare time during the pandemic. We have all done our best to weather the various storms, both personal and professional, and we have tried our best to keep our heads above water. Now, it looks like things are starting to get back to normal. Many of us are beginning the process of getting our lives back on track. That means taking a good long look at how we fared during the pandemic, seeing what needs attending to, and planning ahead for the future.
When it comes to managing our finances, things tend to hectic quickly. Some of us are hands-on, preferring to take charge ourselves, make dynamic moves and identify potential sources of new income. Others are the opposite. They prefer to sit tight, do their best not to think about the worst-case scenario and hope for the best. Whichever way you keep tabs on how your money and investments are doing, we could all use a little extra help. After all, just because the news is looking a little brighter with each passing day, that doesn’t mean we suddenly have extra hours in the day. What’s more, given that the market is still prone to some pretty wild fluctuations (not to mention the new variants making us all a little worried about whether now is the right time to feel completely optimistic), this certainly is not the time to take your eye off the ball.
But don’t worry. There are steps that you can take and tools that you can use to plan for the future and to stay on top of your investments. Here are a few, ranging from basic to expert, that can help you rest a little easier as we head into the summer.
Start With An Audit
Let’s start with a baby step, shall we? Now, the pandemic did manage to make it feel like making plans was something of a pointless exercise, but the fact is that the better you budget ahead, the more room you give yourself if things do start to go wrong again. Start by taking stock of all of your investments and holdings. From your property to that stock that you bought ten years ago because your friend told you it might be worth a flutter, you should have a clear idea of exactly where your money is and what it’s doing for you.
Then it’s time to take a good long look at your incomings and outgoings. What are the big regular payments that you are still working on? We’re talking about mortgages, car payments, student loans and so on. Then, plan out what the returns are looking like on your investments? From there, you should have a better idea of what things look like financially in the coming months. And while we are on the subject of debt, you should also take steps to understand your credit score and identify opportunities for improvement. The more you can consolidate your debt and make those repayments on time (or early), the better your score will be.
Do You Have A Cushion For Emergencies?
The truth of the matter is that even those of us who had built up a nice little rainy-day fund over the course of the last several years or decades will have been forced to dip into it more than once over the course of the pandemic. Many of us were made redundant and faced unexpected medical bills or were forced to move home to be closer to family members in need. And speaking of family members in need, many of us had to help out with cash gifts or loans to help them through the last year. Well, now that things are starting to get back to normal, it’s time to start building that back up.
You can start by setting a specific goal for where you want your emergency fund to be. Previous unexpected expenses can help you get a better idea of what a good cushion is for you. Once you have that number, look at your other costs to see what can be cut out. While some payments are always going to be non-negotiable, there will always be ways that you can trim the fat from your monthly budget. Are you getting a cup of coffee on the way to work every day? Are you paying for movie streaming services that you never use? And now that we are all working from home for the foreseeable future, do you really need a car right now? Be brutally honest with yourself about what is negotiable and make sure that your savings account is sacrosanct as you start to build back towards that magic number.
Create A Strategy For Your Investments
As we mentioned before, a lot of people who make investments prefer to leave their assets alone and blindly hope that they will continue to appreciate in value. The chaos of the last year has shown that a hands-off approach may not be the best idea. Take cryptocurrency for example. Crypto has become increasingly mainstream over the last several years, which means that are lot more people have started to dip their toe into investing and trading, but the amount of research and homework that is required to really see a good return on that investment means that a lot of people still lack confidence to make any real moves. As a result, their investment strategy leaves them open to the continuing fluctuations in the crypto markets and makes it hard to plan for the long term.
With a little research and the application of the right tools, your crypto assets could be working a lot harder for you. If you have been exploring the possibilities of yield farming, for example, but you don’t feel like you have the time to monitor the various platforms, then a robo-advisor for your crypto assets could save you a ton of hours and a lot of headaches. Unagii’s vaults offer you the choice of pursuing a stash strategy, which offers stable return with minimal risk, or a growth strategy, which offers more risk but the potential for higher rewards. Crypto investment and trading are always going to reward people who can capitalize on new trends, do the research and harness the tools available.
Use Finance Apps
Finally, from crypto asset management tools to something a little more mundane. If you’re struggling to keep on top of your bills and there’s a string of small expenses that you just can’t rein in, having a personal finance app will make a big difference in managing your day-to-day finances.
Creating a useful, workable budget is not just about knowing how much you have in your bank account. It’s about identifying patterns in your spending behavior, seeing where you might be losing more than you realize, and identifying opportunities to change and save. But finance apps aren’t just about telling you whenever you’ve used your card to buy a coffee or when that next energy bill is due. If you have an investment portfolio, you can use a finance app to get live updates on its performance and trade with ease and speed. Finally, if you find a lot of reading is tough to get your head around, why not try a finance management podcast? It’s an increasingly popular way for people to learn more about personal finance and improve their confidence in the area.