Managing personal finances as the pandemic continues to create uncertainty

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – In the last two years of the pandemic, the financial dynamics for many people have changed. For some, it offered the chance to increase savings, while others faced more difficult times.

One thing that continues for almost two years is uncertainty.

Chris Wolgamott, Meritrust Credit Union’s director of financial well-being, said: “I think what many people have seen in the last two years is that none of us have a crystal ball. It’s very difficult to plan. “

Wolgamott suggests that you start with the basics when looking at your finances. Often, the first step is to address stress.

He said: “With everything that has happened, there is a certain amount of stress with your finances.”

Wolgamott also said to take into account where your money goes.

As this pandemic continued, things changed.

“Receiving incentive checks was a great way for people to save money.” Wolgamott said: “We’ve been in a pandemic for a while now, and our savings are running low, so people are becoming more aware of what they’re spending each month and spending a little differently than they are. used for. “

If credit spending has become the main way to end it, Wolgamott said it is essential to address it.

“If you have accumulated debt, it is very important that you first know how much you have accumulated and to whom you owe.” Wolgamott said: “Knowledge means power, so write to whom you owe money, how much money you owe, and then you can really start formulating a plan to solve it. Some experts say to start with the smallest balance you owe and go up. Others say you should start with the highest interest rate first, but the most important thing is to have a plan for how you will approach it. If you are still struggling, contact those financial institutions and let them know that you are still struggling. “

With the rapid fluctuations of people looking for new jobs, the lack of store shelves and COVID-19 continuing to affect many industries, Wolgamott said he is preparing for these changes to have a solid savings base.

Wolgamott said: “As the uncertainty continues, the budget is very important in the first place. Knowledge is power. So, knowing what your budget looks like and if you can continue to save, you can’t save too much money now. ”

A survey conducted by Lincoln Financial Group late last year suggests that some of the changes in personal finances caused by the pandemic could be lasting.

Their recent Consumer Sentiment Tracker shows that almost 60% of Americans surveyed make or intend to make permanent changes in the way they spend. Increased focus is on long-term financial goals, such as saving for emergencies, pensions and inflation.

By December 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said consumer prices had risen 7% from 12 months ago.

Wolgamott said that with those increases in the items that people usually buy, you should add that increase to your budget to prepare.

Wolgamott said: “I haven’t seen anything to suggest that it will decrease in the near future, so it’s very important that when planning your budget, you give yourself a little extra space to deal with some of it. costs.”

At the same time, household spending is expected to continue to grow in 2021.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s household survey shows an estimated 4.6% increase over the next 12 months. Food and transportation with the highest growth.

Wolgamott said it was a good idea to have emergency savings to cover expenses of up to three months.

“If you want to make some extra expenses, make sure you have a lot of money in your emergency account and that you don’t spend too much.” He said: “You have at least three months of spending on that emergency account, if you can, and then, if you exceed that point, you can spend little money. You want to pay attention to what you have there and make sure you continue to fund that emergency account, probably for the next six months to a year. ”

He added that if you have difficulty contacting your financial institution.

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