Get a Bunker Mentality about Your Finances
In military training manuals, Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchy is represented as a pyramid with five levels of needs: survival, security, belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization. The base of the pyramid is survival, on which all other levels of need are built. This theory is a useful guide for generally understanding why we react the way we do and in determining how behavior may adapt to meet specific challenges.
With the uncertainty surrounding the current pandemic causing a multitude of hardships for many families, now is a good time to develop a “bunker” mindset to manage your money. With some adjustments to current spending habits, and an evaluation of what is necessary for financial “survival”, this crisis can be better navigated.
The first step is to take stock of current spending. Gather all family bills (both paper and online payments) and see just how much your monthly expenses total. Then compare to how much income the family is generating to meet those expenses. This is going to give you the first glimpse at the challenge, and how big the bunker needs to be.
Next, get rid of all non-necessary expenses such as gym memberships (gyms are closed so why pay for something not being used), possibly reduce cable/online subscription services, and any other comfort type expenditures. Contact child-care provider to see if there is a suspension of charges during the “Stay at Home” order. Any other services such as house cleaning, that could be done by you during the crisis should also be included. The best gauge to determine these would be to ask yourself: Is this a need, or a want? Or as I like to challenge those I work with: Do I need this? And be totally honest with yourself. We are talking about this from a purely survival point of view. Remember, we are building a bunker to ensure our survival. What are those things I truly need to survive. Shelter, so rent/mortgage is obviously on there, food, and probably transportation are on there, and lastly, what I call the connection to the outside world, so some form of internet connectivity.
Finally, contact all of your creditors and explain your situation to them. Many, if not most will be willing to create some form of temporary plan with you, but you MUST be your own best advocate. Do not wait until you are behind on payments to try and negotiate with them. They are much more understanding when you contact them first. It shows that you are being proactive about your situation.
These are certainly scary times, and by developing that survival mindset and taking positive steps as quickly as possible, the chances of successfully navigating this crisis are increased.