Fri Apr 9th, 2021
Tags: Big Financial Events, Budgeting, Emergency Fund, Expect the Unexpected, Fund, Global Pandemic, Household Budget, Lost Jobs, Marge Barry, Money Talks, New Technology, Pay Yourself First, Remote Working, Southern Ute Tribal Council, Unexpected Hardships, Unexpected Loss
Good day to all of you,
The following article was written by Michelle Kress, Human Resources Director of the Sky Ute Casino Resort.
Every day we make important decisions that impact our lives. Decisions concerning our children, school and work. The onset of Covid–19 has compelled us to “Expect the Unexpected,” to prioritize “Budgeting,” to “Pay Yourself First,” and also consider “Other Big Financial Events.” The onset of Covid–19 has served to complicate our already complicated lives.
Additionally, I would like to encourage everyone to continue following the health and safety protocols of wearing our masks wherever we go, washing your hands and socially distance. Being conscious of our health and safety will have positive results, and we will be able to return to our normal way of lives sooner.
Creator bless you and your families; we will get through this together.
Southern Tribal Council member/Treasurer
Planning for Big Financial Events
If the global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that life can change dramatically at a moment’s notice. Millions of us lost our jobs, had to shutter our businesses, or figure out how to juggle being our children’s educators while struggling with new technology for remote working and learning. Some of us have had to cope with sickness or have suffered the tragic loss of members of our friends and family. Without a doubt, most of us have worried about the future at some point this past year and have felt the stress of trying to deal with the unknown. One main stressor that many of us have faced – whether in this past year or some time in our lives – is an unexpected financial hardship. These events range anywhere from an unexpected loss of income to having a home appliance break down or needing a new set of tires for your car. Thankfully, with some simple planning and a little saving, you can make those times much easier to handle when they come your way.
Expect the Unexpected
The first thing we can do to make unexpected financial events easier to overcome is to know they are possible and plan for when they arrive. Things break. Accidents happen. Natural disasters like wildfires are now relatively common in our area. One way to prepare for these events in case they happen to you is to get insurance to cover your health, home, car, and life. These types of insurance will reduce the amount of out-of-pocket expense you may have in an emergency and will offset replacement costs for items that are damaged or lost. Life insurance protects your loved ones in the event of your unexpected death. Other types of insurance, such as short term or long-term disability insurance, protects you if an accident causes you to no longer be able to work.
The second thing to do is to start an Emergency Fund for when life throws something unexpected your way. Having an Emergency Fund to fall back on not only alleviates the stress of trying to figure out how to pay for something, but also allows you to use money that doesn’t cut into your normal living expenses. It is definitely a lot easier to pay for a new water heater if you already have the money saved up, and with an Emergency Fund already established, you don’t have to worry about whether you can pay other bills when an unexpected expense like that comes up. An Emergency Fund gives you the ability to easily handle these financial hiccups and gives you financial peace of mind when you have to deal with them. Financial experts say that we all should have enough money put away to cover at least 3-6 months of standard living expenses, but if you are new to saving, that sounds almost impossible to achieve. It’s not, however, if you stick to two simple principles: budgeting and “paying yourself first”.
“I’m on a budget” sounds similar to “I’m on a diet” to most people. It sounds boring, limiting, unfun, and ultimately hard to follow. Most people equate a budget to “going without,” but that is not the case. In reality, a budget is a powerful tool that helps you gain financial security and overcome financial emergencies when they arrive. Creating a personal or household budget is also quite easy and doesn’t take much time. There are numerous budgeting worksheets and apps online, but you can also just take pen to paper as a first step. A personal or household budget keeps track of how much money comes into your household and how much money goes out on a monthly basis. More importantly, it tracks where and on what the money is spent. If you have ever said to yourself, “I wonder where all my money went this month?” then a household budget is right for you. If you do know where your money usually goes, but want to start or add to a savings account, then a budget is right for you. Even if you are hardly ever “over budget” (spending more than you make), knowing where your money goes can help you decide how much you can add to an Emergency Fund each month and how quickly you will achieve your goal of being able to handle an unexpected financial hardship.
The goal of creating a household budget is to see how much money you can set aside for a rainy day. The next step is to take a good hard look at your expenses and see if there is anything you could stop spending your money on. Do you really need that Starbucks coffee every day? Or that cute pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing? Or that sports package you’ve been paying for on your cable bill, but haven’t really been using? If the answer is yes, so be it. If the answer is no, then set aside that extra money for your Emergency Fund, and sooner than later you will be able to handle unexpected expenses with ease. Budgeting is not about “going without”, it is about making choices with your money and ultimately taking control of your personal finances.
“Pay Yourself First”
Once you have established how much money you can put into your Fund, then commit to adding that money on a monthly basis. The best way to do this is to “pay yourself first”. Pretend that Fund is a bill that you must pay – like the electricity or water bill – without serious consequences. Then, once you’ve paid that bill (yourself), consider that money “gone.” The easiest way to do this is to transfer the money, for example, from a checking to a savings account automatically. Another way is to put the money into an envelope and seal it. Whatever way you decide is best to separate these funds, the most important thing is that you do this at the beginning of the month, not at the end. If you wait until the end of the month, it is usually too tempting to “blow” that money without thinking. After a couple of months of paying yourself this way and feeling the satisfaction of building your Emergency Fund, you will soon be on your way to worrying less about unexpected expenses.
Other Big Financial Events
While we have spent most of this article discussing unexpected hardships, not all big financial events are negative. Buying a car or a house, having a baby, getting married, taking a 3-week vacation are all fun, exciting events that we can plan for using the same methods as above. Once you have a financial cushion, you can easily turn the “Emergency Fund bill” into a “vacation bill” or a wedding fund without missing a beat. Or you can adjust your budget and have multiple funds/bills going at the same time. Regardless, the approach to planning for big financial events is always the same: create and follow a budget, pay yourself first, and feel confident that you have created a contingency plan in case the unexpected happens.
Remember, if you plan ahead and apply a little discipline, you can avoid racking up unwanted credit card balances and live a more stress-free life.