The Conversations You Need to Have About Your Finances, After Covid
As we move closer toward a post-pandemic world, there's an opportunity to start new conversations about the changes you want to see in your finances.
When most of us think about putting in place a solid financial plan, it’s often categorized into having a budget and savings, paying off your mortgage and consumer debt, and having a non-retirement portfolio of investments. These are all essential aspects of a financial plan, but to maximize their potential, you also need to have courageous conversations to shape the decisions you make and direction you take your money.
A good first step is to assess how your finances were directly impacted by the pandemic. Then, think about what led to those changes.
If you made less money due to reduced work hours or stopped working to stay home to take care of or home-school your children, remember that those choices carry value. If you are in a partnership, I encourage you to avoid going down the slippery slope of believing that because you earned less, your contributions to the household hold less value than when you were working and earning more. This is not true. Earning less money than your partner should not diminish your agency over your financial future or mean that your desires and plans are no longer valid.
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Once you have completed your assessment, the first conversation you need to have is with yourself. The goal is to create clear short- and long-term views of your finances and to think about what you need to release, recommend or remix.
Start by looking at your financial goals, income, current net worth and previous decisions you’ve made with your money (how you’ve spent, saved, invested, donated and managed it to date). Go through each area and ask yourself if you are satisfied with the outcome so far. If not, ask what you need to do to release yourself from continuing with unwise practices or bad feelings about how you’re managing your money. When it comes to remixing (which means changing and improving), focus your efforts on the long-term vision of what you are trying to achieve, and determine the new things you will need to do to make it happen.
Once you have a clear picture of the change you want to create, it will be easier to stay on track when talking to your spouse or partner, accountants, advisors, business partners and even your employer. Yes, your employer is on this list too — it’s essential to manage your career opportunities from a financial perspective. Many employers are increasingly flexible and supportive about work-home life balance. But remember that flexibility doesn’t (and shouldn’t) always have to come with a trade-off, salary-wise.
Finally, as we approach the end of this pandemic, stop and reflect on how resilient you have become, managing so much rapid change in a short period of time. Allow yourself to look ahead with optimism: Your plans for your finances are not cancelled. They just need to be reimagined and adjusted. Your relationship with money is the key to helping you create this new vision and succeed.
Nechelle Bartley is a financial strategist and founder of Money Basics Strategy Services. She helps women transform their relationship with money to create wealth-building habits.