By Ana Gonzalez
Uncertainty in our lives is a given, particularly when it comes to our finances. There will be times of steady income and other times where we are unsure of our incoming funds. Those uncertain times may be caused by natural disasters, economic recessions or changing markets.
Uncertain times and challenges — which are a guarantee — are best met with financial resilience. Financial resilience is the ability to withstand life events that have an impact on your income and your assets. YLAI Network members who learn how to be resilient and how to plan for the unexpected are best positioned to sustain themselves and their businesses during uncertain times.
Financial experts consider the following questionnaire to be a measure of financial resilience. Take a moment to reflect and see where you stand when it comes to preparing for uncertain times.
How diverse are your sources of income?
While many rely on one occupation as the main source of income, diversification can prove to be beneficial. Finding new ways to make money such as investing in stocks, identifying new ways to make money online, owning rental properties or products (think bike shares, moving trucks, etc.), or exploring side businesses can be beneficial and can help you to diversify your income.
How secure are those sources of income?
It is important that you have an understanding of how stable your sources of income are and the many risks involved. Although not pleasant, it is necessary that you think of potential risks such as the possibility of being laid off or a shortage of sales, and develop a game plan.
What is your debt-to-income ratio?
When considering your finances, you should always consider how much of your income will go to covering debts. Debts can include loans, credit cards, and even mobile phone bills. To find your debt-to-income percentage, add all your debt payments and divide the total by your monthly income.
This percentage will help you as you make and follow a budget, create and implement a savings goal, and ultimately plan for the future and retirement. Ask yourself, “How might I cover these expenses if I were to lose a part of my income?”
How much cash can you access in an emergency?
During uncertain times, having access to cash is important. Know how much money you have on hand, perhaps in a savings account, or how much money you might be able to borrow, perhaps using a credit card. When possible, it’s a great idea to create an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.
How much slack do you have in your budget?
Leave some breathing room in your budget. Take some time to re-evaluate and readjust your expenses, creating space in your budget either to save for unexpected emergencies or respond to uncertain times. Some people find it helpful to leave a “miscellaneous” line item in their budget set at a predetermined amount.
Uncertain times are unavoidable, so having a financial plan in place to help you adapt is important. Save money, avoid debt, track your spending and stick to your budget.
Remember, financial resilience is easier if you remain focused and optimistic. Access the #YLAICounts Money Management Workbook to better understand the fundamentals now. Set financial goals through uncertain times and meet those goals responsibly. Keep grounded and know that difficult times pass, and you can overcome these challenges!
The following resources may also help you manage and plan for a financially resilient future:
- Top 4 budgeting methods to try
- How to set SMART goals toward a targeted financial future
- 4 tips for overcoming financial stress
This article is available in Spanish.