The Financial Challenge


The Financial Challenge

Sunday, May 17, 2020

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With many of us now indoors, social media has become our place of refuge for entertainment and encouragement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous challenges have erupted globally as people find creative means to cope with this crisis. To be honest, even I've thought about downloading TikTok and contemplated participating in the #DontRushChallenge with my group of friends. But then I came to my senses. For me, the truth is there really has not been downtime; things have actually picked up. In every crisis you must decide how you plan on coming out on the other side. This current crisis has given me the opportunity to refocus and realign with what is important to me. My goals stare me in the face every day and I am very mindful that, COVID-19 or not, I have to rise to the challenge and get these goals accomplished.

One thing is for sure, most of us are in a reflective mood. I have friends who have pledged to never postpone another girls' trip or cancel another staycation. I have family who regret not making the trip to Jamaica for Christmas or missing that family reunion. COVID-19 has really taught us to never again neglect the little things. For many, this is the first in a very long time that we have had the chance to dust off our goals, passions and interests and get started. Creating a post-COVID-19 bucket list is one thing, but what is a plan of action without any idea about how we are going to fund it? With that said, I came up with my very own #COVIDFinancialChallenge.

Challenge 1 — Post-COVID-19 Bucket List:

Unless you're a diehard introvert (I kind of am one, but I digress), we all wish we could be going out and doing something different these days; even introverts do not like to be restricted. For me, my wanderlust is starved; for others it may be a desire to go out to their favourite restaurant and dine with friends; and then there are those who are simply craving some good music, good vibes and surrounded by great company at a party. The first step is to write down exactly what you want to do after this whole ordeal is over.

Challenge 2 — Create a Budget:

Creating a budget is the first step to controlling your finances. It's also the best way to see how realistic your plans are and gives you a goal to work towards. After all, my next trip to Asia is not going to fund itself. I have mentioned before that you can download some simple budgeting apps, or create a spreadsheet detailing income and expenditure. Of course, the big challenge now is to stick to your budget.

Challenge 3 — Reduce Your Bills:

My bucket list is everlasting; I am ready to embrace and continue to enjoy life. In times of uncertainty, wherever we can conserve we should take advantage of that. Since the majority of us are now working from home I am sure you are experiencing a hike in some of your bills. Reduce your bills by investing in conservation tactics such as energy-saving bulbs, plugging out all electronics not in use, even enjoying some natural breeze instead of using your AC 24/7. The challenge here is to assess what your bills are and which one you can actively try to reduce. Given the fact that we are all so restricted, we should be saving on our commute, shopping, dining and entertainment in general.

Challenge 4 — Save What You Can:

As my mother would say, “one one cocoa full basket”, and during this crisis, every dollar counts. A cool tip someone shared with me is to get a container and save all the coins and $50 bills you get back in change. You'd be surprised how much this all adds up at the end of the year.

Challenge 5 — Take One Item Out of Your Online Cart:

Take a look at your online carts and ask yourself, if I could live without one thing, what would it be? Don't overthink it. The second the item comes to mind, remove it. I often put items in a save until later list on Amazon. If I really need the item, I will remember it's there and purchase it; if I forget about the item on the list, then I really didn't need it. Do not impulse-buy.

Challenge 6 — Avoid Late Fees:

Those dreaded late fees sneak up on you when you least expect them. Avoid late fees by paying on time so this doesn't happen to you. Some financial institutions like NCB have been providing payment holidays and waiving fees for certain transactions done online. It literally pays to stay at home and do your online banking: No lines, no unnecessary exposure to COVID-19, and reduced banking fees. Digital channels are the way to go; often the fees charged for using a digital channel are less and a convenient way to save.

Challenge 7 — Explore Additional Income Streams:

Job security right now is uncertain. Work hard at your job, prove your worth but also explore a 'side hussle'. In the same breath, earning an additional income doesn't have to be a job; it could be a savvy investment. NCB Capital Markets online just launched its equity trading platform to make it simple for you to invest even in sweats from the comfort of your home,

Every once in a while, we need to challenge ourselves and learn something new.

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