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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Take Advantage of COVID-19 Financial “Bounces”

 

Last week, I lost 3.2 pounds in 24 hours. My weight dropped from 122.4 pounds to 119.2 pounds overnight. No, it was not some sort of new miracle pill or diet. It was preparation for a colonoscopy and, without going into any gory details, the pounds came off quickly, much faster than if I had tried to lose weight slowly by reducing calories or increasing physical activity (I already walk 10,000+ steps a day).

In retrospect, I realized I had experienced a “weight bounce”; i.e. a big boost in results similar to the “bounces” that many politicians get in their approval rankings immediately after a national convention. Since my ideal weight is 122 pounds, I really did not need to lose any weight but now I have a “buffer” for occasional future calorie splurges, like pie on Thanksgiving.

It occurred to me that, as a result of COVID-19, some Americans have received “financial bounces” similar to my “weight bounce.” In other words, a quick boost that would otherwise take some time. There are basically three groups of people when it comes to COVID-19 financial impacts:

¨       Reduced income and struggling

¨       Stable income but anxious

¨       Increased income with opportunities

 People in the last two groups are fortunate to have jobs. They have continued income or even an increased income. An example of the latter is home improvement contractors in my Florida community. As entertainment and travel expenses dropped like a rock, many of my neighbors reallocated those dollars to 4 P’s (patios, pavers, pools, and palm trees), resulting in an upsurge in business income for service providers.

In addition to an increased income “bounce,” some people have experienced a reduced expenses “bounce.” If you are working from home, expenses for commuting, childcare, clothing, and/or meals eaten away from home have dropped off, resulting in the ability to save more and/or reduce debt faster than before.

Take advantage of the financial “bounces” in your life and maintain them when we get to “the other side” of COVID-19:

¨       Lock in a Higher Savings Rate- Sign up with your employer to have additional savings permanently deducted from your pay.

¨       Build a Bigger Buffer- Just like my three-pound weight buffer, build a larger savings buffer for resilience in future emergencies.

¨       Repay Debt Quickly- Use either the “snowball” or “avalanche” accelerated debt repayment method to dig out of debt more quickly.

¨       Extend Telecommuting Time- Ask your boss for some post-pandemic flexibility. Even one extra day per week working at home will significantly cut expenses.

¨       Make Prudent Home Improvements- Focus on interior and/or exterior changes that increase both the comfort and value of your home.

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