Let's face it: Being cooped up at home isn't easy, but with COVID-19 closing schools and shutting down businesses, that's the situation most of us are in. Even if you're busy doing your job remotely and caring for children, you might still reach a point when you're desperate for something to do other than binge-watch TV.
The good news? There are probably a number of financial activities you've been putting off for ages that you now have the capacity to tackle. Here are a few to keep busy with.
1. Set up a budget
Do you really know where your money goes month after month? Without a budget, you probably don't, so now's a good time to set one up. Go through your bank and credit card statements from the past six months and see what your typical expenses look like. Then list those expenses on a spreadsheet and see how much you spend in total on a monthly basis. If you're left with enough wiggle room to save around 15% of your income each month (or more), you're in good shape. Otherwise, you can reassess your spending and see where you might start cutting back.
2. File your taxes
Though taxes are hardly a thrilling activity, they need to get done sooner or later -- so you might as well make it sooner, especially if you're convinced you're owed a refund from the IRS. To file your taxes, you'll need to gather your paperwork, including W-2s, 1099 forms, and receipts summarizing the items you'll be claiming a deduction for. That could take a while -- which isn't a bad thing these days.
3. Map out financial goals
How much time have you really spent to date thinking about your most pressing financial priorities? Now's a good time to contemplate those goals and figure out how to achieve them. Maybe you want to retire on the early side or buy a home in the next three years. Or maybe you have two young children whose college you'd like to be in a position to pay for. You have a key opportunity to start mapping out your objectives and researching ways to make them happen. For example, if you have college on the brain, you can spend some time looking into savings plan options, like 529s.
4. Create a debt payoff plan
If you're carrying unhealthy credit card debt, the sooner you shed it, the less money you'll throw away on interest. Spend some time reviewing your different balances and exploring your options for whittling them down efficiently. That could mean consolidating your debt into a personal loan or doing a balance transfer in which you move your various balances onto a single credit card with a lower interest rate.
These are challenging times we're in, and a good way to stay positive is to keep busy. While the above items may not seem like the most thrilling way to spend an afternoon, if you make that investment now, you'll be in better shape by the time our current crisis starts to resolve and things slowly but surely go back to normal.