If we are not stress eating our way through the pandemic, we spend sleepless nights worrying about our financial future.
A recent report by the Medical Brief has revealed that 81% of South Africans turned to unhealthy food to deal with the stress that comes with being in a pandemic and 56% of us are experiencing psychological and emotional stress.
The shift into a space that requires much more from people who are barely making it on the little they have has made it even more difficult to keep their finances afloat. So how can you move towards practical ways to juggling your finances while in a pandemic?
Building a safety net with what you have
With the youth unemployment rate at a staggering 32.6% and a total of 2.8 million people have lost their jobs, the pandemic has revealed how important it is to have a financial safety net in place. Be it in the form of an emergency savings fund, income protection, or savings that can take care of 3 - 6 months’ worth of your expenses.
It may be difficult to build a financial safety net when you don't have a source of income, but saving whatever you can, will contribute to protecting you from some of the emergency expenses you may face in the future. Assess your budget and see what some of the things are you can cut back on to open some room. Set a realistic savings goal of an amount that you can put aside for each month. Remember, every cent counts.
Take care of your health
It may appear to be a paradox to invest in your health when you need money to do so, especially if you are in a financially tight spot. Your health is your wealth. It will impact your ability to earn and keep an income. Therefore, it is crucial to take care of it. According to the data by Medical Brief, 81% of people turned towards unhealthy food in the form of fast food and 20% to alcohol during lockdown.
Not only does this impact our overall health, but it can also take huge chunks from our budgets in a time where it is needed the most. A couple of hundreds here and there eventually add up. Switching to healthier alternatives and opting to eat at home is something to consider, especially in a pandemic.
Avoid taking on new debt
When it comes to making ends meet, as many as 74% of South Africans find it hard to make it to the end of the month with money in their accounts. Furthermore, the lack of understanding when it comes to how the interest impacts loans that are taken out make it hard for people to choose something that will be beneficial to them in the long run.
Juggling finances during a pandemic means reducing any debt you may have and avoiding taken on new debt unless it is necessary. Taking out credit or a loan to handle basics such as food and clothes usually signifies deeper financial issues which may require debt counselling. Always remember to reduce your debt as much as possible than taking on new debt.
Making changes to your life and seeking professional help can assist in reducing the financial stress you may be facing, but it is also important to be honest with yourself and what you can do.