Banker, part-time teacher, and at-any-other-time writer
Setting aside money for a rainy day may take a little discipline, but better to start now, before you actually need it. (Shutterstock/ChristianChan)
For many, personal finances are a source of stress. Understandably, numerous matters need to be accounted for. Even more so when planning for an emergency fund to cope with the unexpected, adverse situations in the future that might not even happen. It is not uncommon seeing people procrastinate or underestimate the importance of having such funding and ending up not preparing at all.
Now, more than just emergencies, out of the blue, we must deal with a virus outbreak that has turned into a pandemic, and affects our daily activities.
The numbers of the infected are rising. Prices of essentials are surging. Schools are closing. Business is disrupted. Employees ask to work from home, the economic outlook is gloomy. Also, the stock market is plummeting -- a formidable and unprecedented challenge to most people’s finances is out there indeed.
Personally, I hope interventions from the government will be enough to provide some relief. But, the actual result is anyone’s guess at the moment. Therefore, the only one you can count on is yourself.
The question is, how prepared are you to face this financially?
Those diligently preparing their emergency funds amid continuous temptation can hopefully pass this ordeal with relatively greater financial ease compared with those who do not. Your efforts are not in vain.
Having said that, even in this situation it is never too late for anyone to prepare. The most basic and essential step during difficult times is to have a budget. Why? Because in a time such as this incomes mainly stay the same, or worse, decrease, whereas expenses are likely to increase due to additional needs to stock up enough food, supplements and medical items.
Masks and hand sanitizer are the new trends right now, and their latest prices are shocking. By keeping track of our financial activities we can prioritize our primary needs and postpone the secondary and tertiary. Enabling us to better see where we are can reduce costs and cut unnecessary spending. Do this right and at the end you will gain some valuable liquidity, which is vital.
At the same time, despite the discouraging conditions around us, there is also an opportunity that can be sought. After all, risk and opportunity are two sides of the same coin. For example, the Jakarta Composite Index (JCI), compared with the end of the previous year, has dropped by around 30 percent -- totally not a good economic indicator.
However, adjusting our point of view a bit, it also means that if things recover and rebound to normal, there is a potential to gain. Many shares are sold at a discount at the moment. It is possible to acquire a lot cheaply. So, if there is still spare money after making sure everything has been prepared, it might be a good time to look for this kind of opportunity.
Regardless of what we are experiencing right now, the rest of the world goes on and will not wait for us to recover. Sadly, this is the truth. Thus, not forgetting to take care of our own finances during challenging times enables us to stay financially fit and minimizes financial anxiety.
While we practice social distancing and allocate more time at home, there are many available resources we can check to improve our money-management skills, such as thinksaveretire.com and theminimalists.com.
Stay safe to you all. (kes)
Pandu W. Soeprapto is a graduate of the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He is currently a corporate credit analyst, and is particularly passionate about teaching and writing. Find him on Instagram @pandu_wi_soe.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.