I’m not one for panic. Having said that, it’s obvious we have been living in ignorant bliss.
The real economic disaster hasn’t begun yet. In America the $600 extra a week that those who are unemployed receive is about to end. Those who have mortgages on their home backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae can get 6 months of forbearance if they have been impacted by the health crisis. But this support from the banks, too, is coming to an end.
In Australia, where I’m from, the pause we have on mortgage payments ends in 90 days, hence this advice from financial expert, The Barefoot Investor, who is perhaps the most calm, conservative, optimistic, nicest guy you’ll ever meet.
Right now we’re in the early stages of reopening the economy, and we’re riding a wave of optimism after being locked down for so long.
But just remember that for many people things will change in September. That’s when the economic season changes and we’ll find ourselves smack bang in the deepest recession in living memory.
What does that mean for you?
It means you have 90 days (at the most).
You need to cobble together a plan that gets you on the front foot. It’s time to reinvent yourself. It’s time to radically cut your costs. It’s time to have a hard conversation with your bank. It’s time to sell something, or many things. Do whatever it takes.
The time to act is right now, while the milk of human kindness is still flowing.
What matters right now is that you don’t panic, but prepare. Many people are living in ignorance and not understanding what is about to happen. It doesn’t take an expert to understand.
There is 90 days to change your behavior, get yourself together, and face the changing economic situation. It’s going to be hard — we’ve faced far worse before. Here’s what you can do in the next 90 days to deal with what is about to happen.
Get a plan together
If you were to lose your job, how long could you survive?
If you had to take a significant pay cut, how would that look?
If you got sick, what’s your backup plan?
These questions can help you prepare so that when the storm comes, you don’t need to panic and you can ride it out in style — and hopefully help others, too.
It’s time to reinvent yourself
The skills you need might change.
This is the time to go all-in on building a mindset that can overcome challenging times. This is the time to admit what you’ve been trying to hide and get real with yourself. This is the time to rethink what work looks like and consider having a second income.
You can sell your skills to more than one bidder. You can work for several employers to diversify your risk or find a way to be helpful to a small audience and earn a little money on the side.
Those who refuse to change are going to get hit the hardest when the economic season moves in the opposite direction.
It’s time to radically cut your costs.
Having a buffer is key. Even if you think you’ve got plenty of money, you’ll probably need a softer cushion to land on when the economy changes.
Cut your costs more than you think you have to.
Do you really need all those subscriptions? Could you eat at home a little more? Could you pay off that credit card? Could you give gifts that are thoughtful rather than expensive?
If you cut your expenses too much you can always add them back again. A “just in case” mindset is a life-saver during an economic storm.
Don’t worry about how you look in front of your friends when you decide to cut costs. They too will be affected. It’s not the time to protect some fake image of yourself; it’s time to be smarter than you’ve ever been financially by cutting costs where you can.
It’s time to have a hard conversation with your bank.
Having worked in finance for many years, one mistake people make is not reaching out and asking for help. If you’re struggling financially now is the time to tell your bank or get professional advice.
Banks can help you get your finances together if you’re honest with them early on. There are payment plans and things they can do now to help you prepare. But when a lot more people are contacting their bank in 90 days it may not be so easy to get the help you need.
If you’re doing well financially, it’s time to ask your bank to cut their interest rates or waive some fees to help increase your buffer.
It’s time to sell something, or many things.
Selling stuff you don’t use anymore or don’t really need is a way to further increase your financial buffer.
It’s also a good way to practice entry-level minimalism and experience the freeing feeling of not letting your stuff own you.
You probably don’t need as much stuff as you think you do. Lighten your load and put the savings somewhere useful like in your investment portfolio.
Do whatever it takes
The part people will find the hardest is letting go.
Letting go of their image, their past, their idea of work, their old home, their stuff, their feelings, their potential ignorance of this situation.
You deal with what is coming by making a decision to do whatever it takes. You commit to the future, and to what counts: family, love, happiness, productive work you enjoy. Everything else isn’t so important.
There Is Either Huge Opportunity or Ruin Coming Your Way
I honestly hope that in the next 90 days you get to take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves, rather than experience the ruin caused by ignorance.
There’s no need to pretend the worst has hit. The economic data, unemployment rates, challenges in the stock market, the continued risks of the health crisis, and the prior problems of the last 2008 recession are crystal clear for anybody who dares fire up their search engine and type a few keywords in like “money printing.”It is what it is.
We’re beyond debate now around what is coming.
Acceptance will set you free.
The greatest opportunity in the coming crisis is for you to not only survive adversity, but to perhaps discover the power of helping others through the storm. Anyone can figure out how to look after themselves. Looking after others is far more challenging and that’s the opportunity you’re about to come in contact with.
Get your plan together, reinvent yourself for the economic change, cut your costs, have the hard conversation with your bank, sell some stuff, and be prepared to do whatever it takes.
There is hope.
You will get through this if you accept what is coming and act now.
This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.
By Tim Denning