If you’re like most people, the idea of financially planning for a pandemic was not on your 2020 to-do list. Now that we are well into 2021, you may still have a number of unexpected financial questions. Things like: what’s the best approach right now to handle financial stress? How can you manage the cost of unexpected expenses due to COVID-19?
In addition to these questions, you may also be dealing with things like job uncertainty, changes to your parental financial situations, managing online and in person classes while working and lack of financial wiggle room. It’s hardly surprising that financial stress has become an increasingly concerning issue. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies that can be used to manage your financial stress — particularly as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Check Your Spending
If you’re anxious about your finances, it may be time to check your budget. Work through your current bank statements to get a comprehensive view of your financial picture. It might make sense to consider how to lower your expenses, renegotiate what you’re paying or eliminate unnecessary spending.
Specifically, look at what has changed financially for you during COVID:
- Are you spending more on groceries even though you may be spending less on gas due to fewer travels?
- Does your budget now include new expenses related to online learning such as purchasing faster internet?
- Have you had to buy a new laptop to accommodate your online classes?
Spend time examining your budget with a particular focus on identifying the new spending and saving trends that you may have experienced as a direct result of COVID. If you’re not already, make sure you’re signed up for online banking in order to better manage your budget and automatically set aside money each month for emergencies.
The Office of Student Financial Success is here to help you with your college financial struggles. We know that college is an investment and we want to help students be prepared to make the most of their time while at Iowa State. Now is the time to develop your financial plan and discuss what resources you or your family will use to pay your expenses moving forward. Students can virtually meet 1:1 with us via ISUappointments to go over their budgeting/credit questions, student loan management strategies, or simple money management tips. Look for us under the Office of Student Financial Aid.
Speak With Creditors
You can also get ahead of any financial situation you’re in by calling your creditors and communicating often with them. Negotiate with the goal of being transparent about your current financial situation. If you’re still in a position to do so, the priority should be paying your bills in a timely fashion. However, if you know this won’t be possible, calling is a good place to start. You’ll want to be prepared before speaking with any of your creditors. Take some time to do your research and don’t make any promises you’ll be unable to keep. One conversation could go a long way in helping alleviate some of the stress you’re feeling.
You’re Not Alone
It can often seem like you’re the only person in the world who struggles with financial stress. You’re not. Fortunately, it’s easy to find supportive communities both online and in-person to lean on. Share stories, resources and community as you work through your financial stress. Focus on taking one small action a day to manage your stress. Learn how to continue to take consistent action in your daily life in order to yield healthier finances over time.