Well, this month didn’t go as planned. March is the month I look forward to the most since it’s full of basketball in Indiana and throughout the nation including high school sectionals, the NCAA March Madness tournament, and NBA teams fighting for position for the playoffs. I love basketball of all levels. Basketball is not the only thing I like about March. I’m not much a fan of the cold weather. So, with the first day of spring being in March we know that warmer weather is on the horizon. Throw in the switch to daylight saving time and you start taking advantage of any chance to get outside. Spring breaks are in full effect and summer plans are just around the corner; optimism is in the air.
Going into the month, I had plenty of plans to get my fair share of basketball. I planned on attending the boys’ high school state finals with a friend. The first two days of the NCAA basketball tournament are forever etched in my calendar as vacation days. I start looking forward to those two days in April. With the Pacers fighting for playoff position, I was going to try to squeeze in a game before the end of the regular season. Outside of basketball, we purchased tickets to a concert at the Old National Centre on St. Patrick’s Day and had an evening planned with friends. In addition to these fun activities, my wife and I were planning things to do in Philadelphia and New York City for a summer trip as part of our 10-year anniversary getaway trip.
Then My Plans Changed
Beginning the week of March 9th, things began to quickly change. The nightly news began to focus on the spread of the coronavirus, now COVID-19, in the US. People began to stop shaking hands to greet one another. Universities around the country were beginning to switch to eLearning. Still, for the most part, everyone’s daily lives hadn’t changed. Then the NBA suspended their season after a player contracted the virus. That’s when the seriousness of this situation kicked in for me. All other major entertainment and sport venues began to follow suit in the following days, as well as school corporations. Next thing you know, we are working from home and practicing social distancing to flatten the curve.
With school and daycare closings and my wife working in long-term care, I knew I would have to be a babysitter to our boys and continue to work. At first, I was working on adrenaline and I was highly focused on making sure my clients were doing okay. The unknowns, the nightly news, and a volatile stock market can make the calmest individual a little nervous. I believe I was doing a good job communicating with my clients, but my parenting responsibilities took a backseat. I’d hoped to keep a normal schedule for my kids that included some eLearning activities, consistent nap times, and getting outside for some fresh air. None of that happened – they had a lot of screen time. My focus over the next month will be to change that.
Time To Reflect
Even though these past couple weeks haven’t gone as planned, these circumstances have slowed me down and allowed me to reflect on what’s really important. I’m sure everybody can agree. We usually go at a pace where it’s one thing after the next and our schedules are jammed pack. We know we should spend time on ourselves, but we put it to the side and think we can get to it later. Unfortunately, later typically becomes days, weeks, and months. The number one focus of this time of quarantine should be staying safe and healthy. A secondary focus should be on the things that are important to you. Really reflect and determine if you’re living the life you want to live and take the time to create a clear vision rather than going through life with a blurred one.
Accomplish These Tasks
In addition to getting caught up on household chores, reading a book, working on projects and hobbies, and self-reflection, now is a good time to get some financial tasks completed while we’re dealing with the new normal of staying safe in our homes for the time being. As Financial Planners, we are always giving our clients some tasks throughout the year to complete and we encourage our clients to continue to focus on what’s really important to them so that we can help them achieve their dreams. To get some financial wins in 2020, below are 10 easy actions everyone can knock out during this social distancing period.
1. Check your credit score
2. Cancel any unused credit accounts with relatively no credit history
3. Freeze your credit
4. Review your last 3 months of spending
5. Find ways to free up cash flow
6. Begin a budget (paper, spreadsheet, or app)
7. Close old, unused bank accounts
8. Organize all your financial documents in one place for quick and easy access
9. Build your bucket list
10. Complete other tasks assigned by your Financial Planner