Throughout the country, millions of Americans are under stay-at-home orders and businesses have been forced to close in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. Obviously, this is having a major economic effect and has left many Americans worried about their finances.
During these troubled times, it's important not to panic and to be smart about any financial moves you make. Here are three of the decisions I've made in response to the crisis, after some careful consideration.
1. I increased my investing
I generally make investments on a regular schedule, putting money into the market once a month when I get my paycheck. But while the economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus is hurting the price of stocks, I've upped the amount I invest. By investing more now when stocks are on sale, I hope to benefit later by making big gains during the recovery.
Rather than trying to time when stocks hit rock bottom, I'm just putting a set amount of money into my investment account once a week. I mostly stick to buying index funds, but you could use a similar technique to increase your shares in companies on sale during the crisis.
2. I cut spending
I've also significantly reduced what I'm spending during these uncertain times -- both because there are fewer things to spend money on during the shutdown and because I feel like there are way better things to do with my cash during the crisis.
To reduce my spending, I've eliminated virtually everything from my budget except the necessities, and a once-weekly restaurant purchase to support a local business.
I'm using the extra money to fund the additional investments I mentioned above, as well as for my next move.
3. I started bulking up my emergency fund
I already had an emergency fund going into the crisis, but I'm working hard to supercharge my savings right now.
Even though my income hasn't yet been affected, there's no guarantee that will continue as the full fallout of the pandemic becomes clear. My husband's business has been affected, so we've seen a drop in total household income, too.
And while we can still comfortably cover the bills because we try to keep our living expenses low, I know that could change on a dime. Having a larger emergency fund provides peace of mind in case one of us gets sick or our income ends up being lower over the long term.
What are the right financial moves for you?
The steps I took may not be the right ones for you. But for most people, if they have income, now is a good time to reduce spending on nonessentials in order to shore up an emergency fund and take advantage of the chance to buy investments in high-quality companies while their stocks are on sale.
Consider the big picture and make informed choices about how your hard-earned dollars can best see you through this crisis and toward a better future.