Make a Stand and Fight Back
I know firsthand what it is like to be overwhelmed with money worries. Seven years ago, my now ex-husband was unemployed, our credit score tanked, our home was sold at a short sale, we were drowning in credit card debt and living off of my IRA money.
At the same time, I was struggling to gain momentum as a financial advisor, but the job did teach me how to dig us out of the hole. Fast forward to today, after a difficult divorce and financial struggles, I am stronger than ever. I just want you to know that I come from where you may be now, and I am here to tell you that you can get through this.
Two weeks before Las Vegas shut down for COVID-19, I saw the signs that, as a city, we were going to be in trouble. I was on a news interview shaking, thinking about all of the jobs that would be lost from event cancellations and closures, let alone our extensive service industry. I am a Las Vegas native and as a stagehand’s daughter; I know that the service industry is the lifeblood of our amazing town and it was going to hemorrhage badly.
I have been interviewed several times since then and asked the same question, “What can people do right now to weather the financial crisis?” Having survived many financial crises of my own, here are my nuggets of hope that I believe will serve anyone who’s working through financial strain today:
- Stack your cashThis is not the time to take drastic measures to pay off loads of debt or invest in something wild. This is the time to save and build up a rainy-day fund. Focus on ensuring your needs are handled, then save aggressively; make it a game! How much can you save right now?
- Invest in yourselfJoin a free money minded meetup or mastermind, team up with a friend and hire a financial coach, enroll in free online training in a new career or apply for a new job. This is the perfect opportunity to reinvent yourself.
- Master your cash flowUnderstand what you make, spend and keep. Have the courage to look back three months. Make empowered decisions about changes in your life. Map out the next eight weeks of bills. Keep life and money simple. Overcomplicating the basics will add more stress to your plate that you don’t need.
- Don’t assume that everyone else has their life togetherThe comparison game will kill any momentum or energy that you could have right now to get moving in a new direction. The best thing you can do is focus on yourself.
- Keeping it simple wins every timeTrust me, I’m the master at overcomplicating life and money. Keep it simple, and cut back wherever necessary for you to gain more time and spend less money. During times of financial stress, you must take time to audit not only your financial choices, but also your choices in time and with people. Be willing to say no and surround yourself with people who will support your simplified lifestyle.
- Sell your $tuffThis is a great time to downsize, simplify and make room for new and amazing possibilities in your life. When I had no income and my former husband was laid off, I went to my closet, kitchen and garage and took stock of everything I no longer needed or wanted. I made enough money selling clothes and kitchen gadgets for grocery money, and that made a difference.
- Pick up odd jobsI went to my tribe and asked if anyone needed help. Turns out, my sister-in-law wasn’t ready to send my nephew to daycare and having me nanny was a win-win for both of us. There are many services you can offer (I saw some kiddos down the street selling lemonade last week), simple services, where $50 a pop can go a long way.
- Simplify your foodEating simple, unpackaged food is healthier for you anyway. I learned how to use my Crock-Pot and make meals stretch a long way. My son ate cereal more often (which he loved anyway) and I stopped judging myself for not being able to create robust and complicated meals.
Get creative. You have so much to offer. You are valuable. Money may be tight today, but it won’t be forever. Remind yourself of that and get to work on creating an abundant simple life.
You’ve got this.
Lisa Chastain is the owner and founder of Millennial Consulting LLC, Author of No. 1 best-selling book, “Girl, Get Your $hit Together.”