Personal Financial Inventory

Ted BraunApril 22, 2020

COVID-19 Related Information

While the effects of Covid-19 are most seriously felt in the hearts of those who have been directly affected, it has certainly tested us all in a variety of ways. Think about what you and your family have been going through? You are spending more time together, but what are you doing? What have you started doing again that you forgot you enjoyed? What about the things that you thought were so important that you do not miss a bit?

Take advantage of this unique circumstance we all find ourselves in and take a personal financial inventory. Evaluate what is most important, what you need and what you do not need. More specifically, focus on the things that are costing you money. Allow something positive to come out of this terrible event, use it as the catalyst to change a behavior for the better.

Here are some examples to help get you started:

Morning Coffee: This is an easy one and one I’m sure you have seen referenced somewhere in some type of “save more money” article. This time is different though. This time, you didn’t have a choice as to whether or not you’ll stop to get your morning coffee on the way in. This time it just happened, you were home, your coffee place of choice wasn’t open. Do you miss it, or have you made adjustments? Did you start using the Keurig again? Chances are you did not stop drinking coffee, you just figured another way to get it. Depending on your place of choice, this could be saving you $4 a day or $20 a week. That is $1,040 a year. When we go back to normal, are you going to restart the daily coffee runs, or the better question may be, do you really need to restart your daily coffee runs?

Dining Out: This one is multi faceted. It could refer to lunches out with colleagues or dinners out with the family, either way, how have they been replaced? Have you rekindled your fondness for the ever popular PB&J or are you still going to Wawa every day to get a sandwich? How about dinners? Have you developed a new passion for cooking or are you enjoying contactless delivery from Door Dash every night? Just cutting one or two meals dining out per week could save you thousands per year, depending on your preferred establishment.

Gym Membership: This is one of my favorites. Your gym has been closed for 6 weeks, did you stop working out? Were you going before we shut down? Did you refresh the home gym? Or just start using what you have had at the house for years? The chances are you are either really missing that gym being open right now or realizing that you don’t need to be paying $100 per month for a membership. An unused membership can cost you $1,200 a year or more.

Streaming Services: 5-years ago this topic may have just been limited to one particular company, but today, in 2020, you could have streaming memberships to dozens of video and or music streaming services. Which ones have you used, which one haven’t been used once while the whole family has been home for 6 weeks? If a family of four at home together for 6 weeks has not utilized one of the streaming services you have on the books, I’m willing to bet, they never will or at the very least wont miss it. Just a few examples: Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, HBO, CBS, NBC, ABC, Apple TV+, Prime Video, Disney +, Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Prime Music.

Channel Lineup: Maybe after you review all of your streaming options, you’ve realized that you watch every single one! That is great and means you are getting what you pay for (with your streaming services), but are definitely overpaying for 700 channels you are getting through Comcast or Verizon. Similar to the streaming topic above, if your family has been home together for the last 6 weeks and the only thing on the tv has been Netflix, do you really need 700 channels from the cable providers? Could be a perfect time to scale back that tv package to just the basics, in the process saving yourself in some cases over $200 per month!

Don’t let the fun end here. Think about the things that are most relevant in your life. What have you missed and more importantly what have you not missed. Not only will it help mentally, but it will help financially too.

If you take on the challenge and end up with a monthly surplus in your budget, be smart about what you do with that surplus. Pay down high interest debt, fund a 529 college savings plan for your child or grandchild, invest in a brokerage account, or boost your cash savings to make sure you can cover an emergency expense. When this is all over there will be some serious pent-up demand for everyone, having some extra cash won’t hurt to make sure you can satisfy that demand!

If you would like to discuss any additional helpful strategies – please call our office (610-651-2777)!