As Canadians deal with the next stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cautious optimism we may have felt during the summer months may now be turning to frustration as we watch infection rates rise in many regions and as we deal with new bumps in re-opening the economy.
It’s beginning to dawn on many of us that our pandemic lifestyle may be here for much longer than we bargained for. Increased unpredictability may be the new normal.
One area of your life where you may hope for some stability is your finances. While the economic environment has certainly changed significantly from this time last year, making carefully planned decisions about your money could help provide you with some steadiness during these uncertain times. If you could use some help to feel more confident about your financial situation, here are a few things you can do now that could help to bring some resilience to your wallet and your life.
Know where you’ll turn in an emergency
This has been a tough year for some, but we can all have a plan in place for where we may turn should we need funds in an emergency. This may include taking stock of any emergency savings you have set aside, as well as any federal programs that may apply. (Assistance may continue to evolve, but you can find more information about Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan here.) This may also be the time to consider cutting some household costs and, if you own your home, you may consider a home equity line of credit (HELOC), which could allow you to borrow money at a lower interest rate than you may pay on a credit card. If you’re unsure where you can turn, a financial advisor may be able to help decide whether taking on this kind of debt is the right move for you, or they may be able to offer other options.
Save consistently and keep yourself invested
Volatility in the markets can cause fear and motivate people to consider cashing out of their investments. Although we saw markets dip in the spring, many stocks and mutual funds came back robustly. In fact, history has shown that markets tend to recover in the long run. If you had pulled out of the market in March, you not only could have suffered a loss on your investments, you may also have missed any subsequent growth. If you are investing through an RRSP or TFSA, it can be wise to save steadily through regular contributions which can make investing easy and convenient, and ensure you will be in a position to benefit from potential market gains. If you don’t have an RRSP or TFSA, now may be an opportune time to open one.
Speak with a financial advisor
Speaking to a financial advisor may help you to put your financial situation into perspective. An advisor may help you see that fluctuation or volatility is a natural part of the economic cycle. What’s more, an advisor can explain that short-term disturbances — although they can be frustrating in the moment — may have minimal impact on your ability to achieve your long-term goals. If you’d like more information on how a financial advisor can help you manage your financial needs, head to the TD Ready Advice hub for articles and more.
Take steps to manage stress
Anxiety and stress may be a natural reaction to the relentless doom and gloom in the headlines. One thing you can consider is taking regular breaks from the news, especially when the scrolling may be contributing to your anxiety. You may also look for daily routines that help you safely connect with friends, colleagues and family. Some regular patterns could help you to focus on the things you can control in your life.
If you need more facts, the federal government has resources to help you deal with the physical and mental toll of the pandemic: Wellness Together Canada, was funded by the Canadian government in response to a rise in mental distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers access to online tools and mental health support.
While these are unsettling times, it helps to take stock of your mental and physical health as well as your finances for the good of your family. Letting problems sit and stew, whether related to your physical well-being or money, may make small issues worse but talking to a healthcare or financial professional may help give you reassurance that while these may be uncertain times, you always have lifelines to help you.