How To Stay On Track With Your Financial Goals in Continued Uncertainty

MAN, Office, desk, laptop

Due to a global pandemic, 2020 was a year of great uncertainty and unknowns. 2021 will also face similar challenges as we close in on a year since the U.S. began instituting lockdowns. Responses to the virus, including shelter-in-place orders and other safety protocols and restrictions, have had a significant impact on the economy, leading to the first real economic downturn since the Great Recession of 2008.

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By May of 2020, 14 million Americans filed for unemployment (up from 6.2 million). Today, many small businesses that are still surviving continue to hang in the balance, uncertain if the tide will turn in a positive direction or if they will lose what little they are making. Families have had to shift how they function, too, with more people working at home alongside their learning-at-home children, and renegotiating roles for domestic duties and child care.

In all of this, it can be hard to keep on track with financial goals, but it is possible. Here we explore some tips for keeping focused on your finances despite uncertainty.

Find Out: How To Set Realistic Financial Goals for 2021

Create a Financial Plan

It might seem so obvious it’s simple, but without a financial plan — ideally in writing and shared with your family — you are essentially driving your finances into the future with no guidelines. According to the U.S. News & World Report, people with financial plans are 78% more likely to pay their bills, 68% more likely to have created an emergency fund and 74% more likely to directly put money into savings.

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Read More: How To Keep Your Financial Planning on Track in 2021

Think About Your Family

If you’re a parent, you’ll undoubtedly be thinking about your kids during all of this. Uncertain times might not be the right moment to open a college fund, for instance, but you could still put a small amount away into savings. Or, perhaps you will want to put more money into their college fund and less into your retirement during these times. Or allocate college money to child care until your finances rebound. No option is wrong or right, only what’s right for you — and knowing that it’s all temporary can help you make these decisions a bit more easily.

Related: 6 Tips for Getting Your Kids Involved in the Family Budget This Year

Set New Priorities

Your financial situation may have changed during the pandemic — perhaps you were laid off or temporarily furloughed, collecting unemployment or dealing with reduced hours. If your income has changed, your former financial goals may not be realistic right now. It doesn’t mean you have to drop them but rather shift them, according to the blog of Michael Solari, a financial planner. Maybe you put less into retirement and more into your emergency fund. Make a list of what your immediate goals are now, be flexible in adapting to them, and know that in the future, especially if your income increases, you can return to your original goals and even set new ones.

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Improve Your Money Management Skills

Uncertain times are an excellent opportunity to learn or refresh basic money management skills, so you’ll be prepared and better armed for future changes. From setting a budget to paying off debt, to learning how to invest, there are a ton of money skills you can pick up off the internet in your downtime that will support you into the future.

Learn: Already Struggling With Your 2021 Money Resolutions? How To Stay On Track

Consider Alternate Income

A global pandemic and an economic downturn may not seem like ideal times to look for new income streams, but you might be surprised. If you work in an industry that allows you to work at home, perhaps there are contract or freelance positions you could add to bring in new work. Maybe, if it is safe for you, you could drive for a ride-sharing service. According to money expert Dave Ramsey, many industries are actually hiring, even if only temporarily, right now, from grocery stores to tech businesses.

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No matter what you do, try to remember that everything is temporary, even financial uncertainty. With vaccines rolling out across the United States, hope is in sight, even if we don’t know exactly when things will change for the better.

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Last updated: May 10, 2021

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    About the Author

    Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. Her articles and essays about finances and other topics has appeared in a wide range of publications and clients, including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times, Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for numerous business clients. As someone who had to learn many of her lessons about money the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and live a better quality of life.

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