UMO Accounting Professor Offers Personal Finance Advice during Pandemic
MOUNT OLIVE – University of Mount Olive (UMO) Accounting Professor Ryan Douglas wrote the following article that includes tips and suggestions for managing personal finances during COVID-19 and beyond.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has introduced everyone to many problems not only for their health, but for their finances as well. Businesses are closing, the stock market is down, and we’re short on toilet paper. However, the best strategy for anyone is to not panic. The current status quo will change. If history is any indicator of what the future holds, better times are ahead. Generally speaking, people fall into one of three categories; those who were struggling financially before the pandemic, those who were financially stable before the pandemic, but are struggling now, and those who were financially stable before the pandemic and are continuing to be financially stable. Let’s explore the strategy for each category.
Struggling before pandemic
If you were struggling before the pandemic, you’re probably continuing to struggle and that’s okay. Everyone goes through hard times, but the good news you’re not stuck. Bad times typically correspond to overwhelming situations. Not being able to pay bills or meet obligations can be discouraging and cause a lack of hope. However, one must remember hope is important for any situation, but especially for those experiencing hard times. Romans 15:13 states “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” As you remain hopeful, do not let the pandemic further discourage you. Instead, to work out of any undesirable situation there must be a plan. If you had a plan before the quarantine, continue to work it. You should continue to pay down debts, save money, and work toward a better job. Do not let the drop in the stock market scare you, history shows it will come back(Sauter & Stebbins, 2020). Jobs will return, wages will rise, and your situation will get better if you stay diligent with a good plan.
Those who were financially stable before pandemic, but are struggling now
There is no doubt about it, this pandemic has brought on an unprecedented shift in our economy that most of us did not see coming. Industries are experiencing dramatic decreases in revenue and individual wages are down or non-existent. First of all, it’s not your fault. This situation is temporary. If you’re a business owner or been laid off, the federal government has relief plans available to you (Smith, 2020). Take advantage of them. However, relief can only go so far. Do what is necessary to keep your business afloat and to keep food on the table. The economy will eventually recover and so will your business or job. If you’ve been laid off, start looking for another job immediately. Other industries are busier than ever in the crisis, such as grocery stores and other retailers. Once the recovery comes, and it is coming, start working toward your financial goals again, including paying down of debt, increase savings, and investing in your retirement funds (IRAs, 401ks and 403bs).
Those financially stable before the pandemic and continuing to be financially stable
So, you’re still working, bringing home a paycheck, and you’re only major concern is finding hand sanitizer. Just because you’re still financially stable doesn’t mean you aren’t worried. Most people are experiencing stress watching the economy shrink, unemployment rises, and financial portfolios decrease. Again, don’t panic. The current status is temporary. Therefore, continue to work the plan you employed, which includes investing your retirement into the stock market.
The best investing strategy for most people is steady and slow. Fixed amount of monthly investments within your budget leads to financial prosperity. The best part of fixed monthly investments is dollar-cost averaging. Dollar-cost averaging is the concept of investing the same amount of money month in and month out over a long period. When the stock market is up, smaller amounts of stock are purchased. When the stock market is down, larger amounts of stock are purchased. The simple concept is executed of buying multiple stocks at a lower price which likely leads to sizable returns later on. Through dollar-cost averaging, you’re playing the long game. Aside from investing in the stock market, pay down debts, and increase your savings plan.
Overall, remember we’re all in this together. If you’re continuing to do well, help out your fellow human. Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25 – 37). If you’re struggling, the worst thing you can do is act out of fear. Instead, think rationally, seek wise counsel, and lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. This pandemic will eventually end. Upon recovery, learn from this time, and take steps to prepare for the next economic downturn. The economy will continue to expand and contract as it always has; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared for the next downturn. Upon getting your financial house in order to better prepare for the next financial hardship, remember better times are ahead, which will involve an abundance of toilet paper.
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has education service centers in Mount Olive, Jacksonville, New Bern, Research Triangle Park, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Washington, and Wilmington. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.
Sauter, M. B., & Stebbins, S. (2020, March 21). How the current stock market collapse compares with others in history. Retrieved April 8, 2020, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/03/21/stock-market-collapse-how-does-todays-compare-others/2890885001/
Smith, K. A. (2020, March 27). Your Guide To The Federal Stimulus Package. Retrieved April 8, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/03/27/your-guide-to-the-federal-stimulus-package/#29a687c02711