Coronavirus Financial Survival Kit for Healthcare Professionals
If the coronavirus has made you nervous, you’re certainly not alone! It seems that businesses everywhere are closing. We hope this isn’t permanent, but there are likely to be some businesses that go under as a result.
I know your 401(k) looks more like a “201(k)” right now, but don’t despair! We’re going to get through this!
While the country is working towards solutions for the coronavirus epidemic, make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Your community needs you to be healthy, and your family needs you to provide for them.
The emergency created by the coronavirus hasn’t lessened the necessity of sound financial management. If anything, this crisis highlights the need for excellent foundational financial principles now more than ever.
Knowing how difficult everyone has it right now, I put together a toolkit to help you weather this storm. Here are 8 things you can do to set yourself up for financial success in this season of uncertainty.
1. Download this free pdf to get dozens of great tips for saving money!
The more money you spend, the less you have! We can’t count on the government bailing us all out. If they do, then that’s a bonus, but I think it’s better to make plans without them.
This free guide will show you 37 hacks for saving money. Every little bit helps!
2. Don’t pull your money out of your retirement accounts!
I never recommend cashing out an IRA or 401(k) unless it’s to avoid bankruptcy or foreclosure. You’ll pay a 10% penalty plus your tax rate. That’s basically like borrowing money at 35-40%. You’ll never come out ahead that way.
3. If you have extra cash, put it in the stock market.
We don’t know where the bottom of the market is, so no one knows “the perfect time” to buy in. However, when the quarantine lifts, the economy is going to recover. Stocks will go up.
The way to think of it is that stocks are on sale right now. If you have extra cash lying around to invest, now is a great time to get in the market. This is a “buy low” opportunity!
Don’t do this if you’re worried about having enough money to feed your family. Take care of household essentials first. Make sure you have enough money to care for your household for at least a few months. Then, if you have some extra money, you’ll get great returns over time if you buy low now.
4. Stick to the budget!!
Now is the time to make sure you don’t go off your budget, especially if you’re not sure when your next paycheck will arrive. If you’re a spender, this may be challenging for you.
Start looking into creative ways to spend less money. You can find dozens of ideas in my free pdf download, “37 easy ways to save money and weather the coronavirus storm.” Cut your spending. Stop going out to restaurants for a while. Use up old gift cards. Do some outside activities with your kids that are free. Play board games. You’ll only have enough if you stop spending immediately.
5. Use your emergency fund only if you have to.
Try to avoid using your emergency fund if you can. If your income is down to zero, you may be stuck dipping into it. If so, that’s ok. Emergencies like this are what your emergency fund is for.
Try to cut your spending back enough that you can make it on whatever income is coming in. If you’re still getting your regular salary, cut your spending anyway and pile up cash in case you get furloughed in the next few months.
The coronavirus isn’t the last emergency you’ll have to deal with, either. So, if you don’t have an emergency fund, you should definitely think about creating one this year. Keep 3-6 months of living expenses in a simple savings account that you can use in times like this.
6. Avoid getting sick.
This sounds obvious, but you really need to pay attention to this. Besides the obvious health risk to you and your family, a major illness can have a huge economic impact. If you have to stop working or if a family member has a major medical expense, your financial plans could really tank.
If you’re working on the front lines, your grateful country thanks you immensely. Keep doing your job but just make sure that you’re taking all the right precautions.
7. Listen to good advice.
I’m a big believer in having a personal “board of directors.” You should have a group of advisors that help you with major life and financial issues. These might include a tax professional, attorney, financial planner, and realtor.
If you’ve got good advisors in your corner, listen to their advice. When you get an idea about a “sure-fire investment opportunity,” listen to them if they try to talk you out of it. Now is not the time to go out on your own.
8. Make sure you’ve got good health insurance and life insurance in place.
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to get good health insurance and term life insurance in place. If you do get sick with coronavirus, you may be uninsurable for a time. At least, it may be prohibitively expensive.
Your best health insurance plan, if you can afford it, would be a high deductible, low premium plan that covers all or nearly all expenses above the deductible. Most people get their health insurance through their employer. If you don’t already have this in place, get with your company benefits officer immediately and find out what your options are.
Also, make sure to get good term life insurance. No one wants to think about dying, but it could happen. Because of that, you have to make sure you’re taking care of your family. Get term life insurance only. Be sure to avoid anything that sounds like whole life, cash value, or universal index life insurance. Don’t bundle investments with insurance products. That’s a recipe for financial disaster.
Nothing exposes holes in a financial plan like having an unimagined crisis arise. You may be finding that you’re not as prepared as you thought you were to be able to weather this storm caused by the coronavirus. That’s ok! We’ll all get through this, even if it’s rough going for a while.
This is the time to rely on your family, friends, and your community. Every day, I read amazing stories of people banding together to help each other out. It’s really inspiring to see everything that friends and neighbors are doing to help each other.
You’ve got amazing capabilities and you’re doing tremendously important work. We all appreciate you being out there on the front lines keeping our country safe. If there’s any way we can help you take care of things on the home front, we’re eager to do so.
Dr. Brent W. Lacey, M.D. is a gastroenterologist who is passionate about helping physicians succeed with business and personal finances. As a physician, he understands how overwhelming it can be to step out of clinical training and into a career, and he has seen firsthand the lack of education on how to run a practice and manage finances. That’s why he founded The Scope of Practice website. His goal is to help physicians learn how to manage their businesses successfully and master their personal finances. You can read more at www.TheScopeOfPractice.com or email him at editor@TheScopeOfPractice.com.