The past couple weeks have been a blur while simultaneously the slowest weeks of my life. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in my own anxiety and stress. In 24 hours life was flipped upside down and suddenly America is homeschooling their kids and working from home (and those are the luckiest ones because many don’t have work at all!).
When I’m on an anxiety spiral I tend to flip between two moods:
- Spend all the money
- Eat all the things
I know I’m probably not along here, especially seeing all the shopping people have done at the grocery store recently. The chance to both spend AND stuff my face after, who can resist.
While I’m not sitting on a pile of quarantine toilet paper or a lifetime supply of baked beans. I feel like my March budget is the Roadrunner and Covid-19 is Wiley Coyote… except the big rocks, anvils, grand pianos, and dynamite are hitting their intended target. Imagine my budget is a pile of smoke sitting on the side of desert highway… meep meep.
Folks, it’s time to pull out of the tailspin. Not only does swirling in a space of anxiety destroy my past financial work it also eats away at my mental health. It’s time to gather together the pieces and keep life moving along.
I am choosing to step away from worry about things completely out of my control and focus on what is in my control. Oh hey there, Budget. I guess that would be you!
So, here’s where I lay out all the details on what I’m doing different. Hopefully there’s some nuggets in here that help you out too. If anything, at least know you’re not alone.
Pausing our debt snowball
Guys, you know I had big, giant, mega huge goals for 2020. I was going to pay off all my student loans, tuck some money into savings, AND my stretch goal was possibly hitting that debt free status I have been chasing. Crazy to think that 30 days ago these were solid and achievable plans.
Well, as of two weeks ago we are officially pausing our snowball. This means we will only be making minimum payments for a short period of time. No extra money going towards debt. Possibly no 2020 student debt pay off.
I’m grieving this change in plan a little but I know it’s the right one. Which leads me to our next change…
Putting three months of expenses in savings
Nothing will make you reevaluate your life quite like a global pandemic and mandatory quarantine… am I right? So here I am, taking this time to assess if our emergency fund truly makes me feel secure. Annnndddd, it does not.
We were just about to hit our savings goal for the year, one month’s worth of expenses put away in our emergency fund. I had decided on that number last year after the government shut down. It shook me up thinking what could happen if I was out of work for a full month.
Well…. now we’re sitting quarantined indefinitely and I am beyond grateful to be employed. I work as a consultant in the Healthcare IT field. It’s an incredible job with awesome pay BUT my work is contract to contract. The odds are in my favor and there is a lot of opportunity but we all just learned with this quarantine life can change overnight. over. night.
So I’m upping my goal to three months worth of expenses saved. Once we hit three months in the bank I will venture back into the world of debt payments. Even if it stings a little to pivot off my plan I am beyond grateful to be in a position to pivot. I get to choose this change unlike the millions of others who’ve had financial decisions made for them over the last few weeks.
I’m loosening up my budget
Being restricted to your home for lengthy periods of time (such as a quarantine) will make you realize how import it is to actually like your home. The more time we spend here the more I realize that I don’t want to wait two years to buy deck chairs, paint my living room, or update my yard.
There are so many things that we have pushed out to a later date while we continue to hustle on our finances. Being home each day with the kids is making me very conscious of how quickly time goes by. I don’t want to enjoy my backyard in two years, I want to enjoy it now. I don’t want to feel relaxed in my home someday, I want to feel relaxed now.
That doesn’t mean having to spend a fortune but it does mean easing up a little.
Another area we are spending a little more is on food. Specifically spending a little extra on takeout. We are so fortunate to have stability in our jobs and home at this time when so many do not. When we decide to skip cooking we are hitting up all the local restaurants and food trucks. There will probably never be another time in history where eating local takeout in your bed is actually courageous. lean in, my friends, lean in.
So there you go. Two weeks ago I had a plan and now I have a completely different plan. Life changed just that quickly! If you’re a planner, like me, it’s not an easy transition to make. We can do hard things though, don’t you even worry! Keeping it all in perspective, I am incredibly grateful that these changes are of my own choosing.
Has the current quarantine affected your plans?
Priya | Paper Money Co says
Great post, Kerri! I totally agree that during quarantine I have been eating all the things and spending all the money. I think you’ve approached your quarantine budget in a really smart way. Too many people think you can never stop your snowball until it’s all paid off but that’s just not how life works. This month I’m also taking my students through a budget reset since 2020 turned out to be so unexpected. Thanks for sharing!