Vaccines are being distributed. The infection rate is down. It feels like we can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel! So is it time to hit the Venice Boardwalk?
Of course, no one knows if we will see the pandemic wind-down anytime soon; however, even in a best-case scenario, you need to play it safe financially in the coming months if you want to be able to take advantage of all that Venice has to offer this summer. Here are a few tips and tricks to help keep your finances where they need to be until the economy is up and running at full-speed again.
Revisit Your Budget
The pandemic has hit everyone hard; even state and local governments have been forced to cut their budgets. It is a good idea to follow their lead and do the same. Even if you have already cut down on your spending, there are almost certainly a few small things you can do to keep more of your hard-earned money in your bank account where it belongs.
· Keep track of where your money is spent: My father always said “what gets measured gets better,” and he is right. It is all too easy to tell yourself that it is not a big deal if you splurge on those new shoes… and then that Grub Hub order… and then that show on Prime… If, however, you keep a list of where your money is going every month, just knowing that you will have to cringe every time you look at it can be enough to change your purchasing behaviors.
· Visit your local dollar store: In Venice, this would be the 99 Cents Only store on Lincoln Blvd. Now is not the time to be picky about where you are shopping, and you would be amazed at the kinds of things you can get for a dollar. You can get four-packs of batteries, desk lamps, kitchen utensils, cleaning supplies, medicines, dog toys – the list goes on and on. What would cost $50 at Target can easily be purchased for $5-$10 when you are buying items at one dollar a pop!
· Check to see if you are “leaking money”: If you are anything like me, you have a subscription to a few streaming services, a gym membership, a newspaper subscription, and about five other recurring payments to places you can’t even remember. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to check and make sure that you really need to be making all of those payments. Simply get a statement from your checking account and look over your recurring payments. See something you don’t need? Cancel it!
Take Care of Your Car
It might seem strange to suggest spending money in an article about keeping your finances in order, but keeping your car in good shape will actually save you money. It makes sense to spend a few hundred dollars now to avoid being hit with a surprise expense that could leave you broke. Even if you are short on cash now, there are many places to get quick loans so that you will be able to keep your car in good shape. Not having a car can be an absolute financial disaster if you need it to get to and from work, so putting off repairs is simply not an option.
Make Less-Risky Investments
Between watching a few college kids making millions on GameStop stock and seeing your friend on Facebook showing off the new boat he got from the money he made with Bitcoin, it can become very tempting to try and cash-in on high-risk/high-reward investments. Resist the urge. The middle of a pandemic is not the time to take a big risk. A better decision would be to put a few dollars away every month in an interest-bearing savings account until the economy becomes more stable. That way, you will have a small pile of money ready to go that you can use to invest aggressively when the economic environment becomes more stable.
No matter how close you think the end of the pandemic might be or how your finances have fared up until now, if Covid has taught us anything, it is that life can take a turn for the worse in the blink of an eye. Living in Venice is not cheap, but it is worth it. So keep your finances in good order and your eye on the prize. If you re-examine your budget, take good care of your car, and do not take too many financial risks, you will be able to stick around for the sunset or go on a short Southern California road trip and enjoy the beach this summer… or whenever this pandemic is finally over!