Managing your finances during the pandemic

Rhea Robinson

July 19, 2021

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It might be hard to keep the financial side of your life in check during a pandemic, but it is not impossible. Flair spoke to Sasha-Gay Wright-Wilson, branch manager, Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) in Spanish Town. Wright-Wilson has had 17 years in the industry; she shared some tips on achieving your financial goals in a pandemic.

According to Wright-Wilson, the pandemic serves as a reminder that unexpected situations will sometimes arise in life, such as sickness and other unforeseen emergencies. Still, people need to be prepared so that they can take care of those expenses when they come.

“Saving/budgeting is very crucial even in the pandemic, and making a budget and sticking to it is even more important at this time, as life continues even after the pandemic,” she said.

During the pandemic, some persons would have experienced some financial struggles, with some reaching the extent of losing their primary source of income or earning less than they usually do. With them not being in the best financial situation, there are tips to help get them back on track or ease their burden.

The branch manager told Flair that having an emergency fund is critical. It is recommended, she said, that persons have at least six months of expenses saved up in their emergency fund to take care of unexpected expenses. “Even in a pandemic, persons are still encouraged to continue saving. Always pay yourself first, and you do this by saving before taking care of any other expense,” she said.

Knowing that persons have a number of expenses they need to cover monthly, or even in a shorter period of time, it is encouraged that they should not pay bills only and save later because saving gets pushed into discretionary spending. That, she said, is a big mistake. “I always advise persons to treat their savings as a mandatory expense, and this takes discipline. They can apply the 50-30-20 rule to help them with budgeting. To elaborate, 50 per cent of net income takes care of mandatory expenses, 30 per cent takes care of discretionary expenses, and 20 per cent is savings. Persons can even look at reducing their discretionary expenses and as a result channel more funds to savings,” said Wright-Wilson. She shares four useful tips.

  1. If you have lost your main source of income and currently taking care of credit facilities, visit your financial institutions and talk with them as they will be able to schedule those debts before they go bad. Additionally, look at the option of consolidating higher expense loans as this will free up your disposable income.
  2. Look at other ways to reduce expenses, such as: reducing variable expenses such as electricity, by practising energy-saving tips, water and other discretionary spending.
  3. Make a budget and stick to the budget. Also, explore couponing and take advantage of sales.
  4. Ask your friends and family what they think you are good at and use those skills to generate income. For example, if you can bake, start making pastries. If you are good at hairdressing, start advertising some of the hairstyles you do and promote your skill. If you are good with children, then a lot of persons who have gone back to work need persons to monitor their children in online class.

lifestyle@gleanerjm.com

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Rhea Robinson

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