6 Money FAQs Answered By A Personal Finance Expert

The pandemic asks us to be financially inquisitive. Here are the answers to 6 commonly-asked questions.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Canadians are coping with the stress of the fluctuating economy. A great deal of anxiety is created as many Canadians are working from home or out of work altogether. The pandemic asks us to be financially inquisitive. Questioning our past decisions, our present circumstances and taking upon a responsibility for planning the future. We are all affected differently but with the right personal analysis, financial freedom can be attained. Personal finance expert Bruce Sellery examines 6 essential questions to help regain financial footing during these uncertain times. 

1. What are you hearing from people right now?

The pandemic has undoubtedly been stressful for everyone. Here’s a quote that captures it. “Everyone is in the same storm, but not everyone is in the same boat”. We know that millions and millions of people are out of work, and are facing a harsh cash flow deficit. We are aware there are people who are still working, but not spending, so they are in a surplus. What we need to be aware of is that our own experience isn’t the same as the experience for the person living next door to us.

2. For those that are really under financial stress, where do they start in finding their financial footing?

Start by creating a context for your money. You may wonder what a context for your money truly is. A context is “the setting in which an event occurs”. And it makes an enormous difference to your actions. If you have an empowering context, you are more likely to do what needs to be done. Your context is the “why” you are doing something. Think about the Cityline Weight Loss Challenge. Different people have a different context for why they want to lose weight. “I want more self-confidence, I want to increase my energy level. I want to live longer.” If the context for weight loss is, “I need to lose 10 pounds so people will like me”, it isn’t going to be as effective. People who don’t have an inspiring context for weight loss aren’t as likely to do the work. And it is the same with money. An empowering context increases your chance of success.

3. What would be some examples when it comes to money?

Context is an act of creation. You make it up. It could be something like “Finding my financial footing”. Or “Feeding the family.” Or “The Pivot Project”. Or “Operation Gratitude”. It may sound a little Pollyanna. But which team do you want to be on?  “Team Poor me”? Or “Team Feed the Family”. Playing the role of the  victim takes a lot of time and energy. But while you’re wallowing, other people will be getting very focused on the next stage of life.

4. Do you think people are ready to hear this message?  It could be seen as kind of harsh.

Maybe people aren’t ready to hear the message. Regardless, it’s called “tough love”. The message is tough, but the love is abundant and encouraging. Some readers will shake their fingers at this and say, “He doesn’t understand”. And others will be like, “I hate what he’s saying, but he’s right. It is time to put on the big boy/big girl pants and get moving”. Finding your footing means knowing where you are, right now. What have you got coming in, in terms of income? What is going out, in expenses?

5. For a lot of people there will be a gap between income and expenses.  What do you do about that?

There are short-term and long-term ideas. Short term there are all sorts of government programs and payment deferrals on almost everything. Do all that. Longer term, now is the time to start thinking about bigger questions: Entire industries have been disrupted and may take years to come back, if they ever do. If the context is “Feeding my family”, what do you do if you can’t make money at X? What can I make money doing?

6. What are the obvious pitfalls people will encounter?

First is “I don’t want to.” I don’t want to change careers, I don’t want to reduce expenses. Second is a fundamental aversion to change. We were familiar with the life we had. Third pitfall is going too far in the other direction: Trying to power through when life really sucks and not doing the self-care and venting and getting support. It is a tricky balance. Choose your favourite superhero: Even “Wonder Woman needs a day to shine her invisible jet.” “Even Superman needs a day to wash his cape”.