Just six months ago, we all lived in a world of record stock returns and tight employment markets. Then came COVID-19, and unemployment exploded while the S&P 500 lost a third of its value in a month. Today, the markets still remain volatile with the Dow swinging hundreds of points on a daily basis.SEE MORE Should You Retire During a Pandemic? 3 Things You Should Know
The future isn't always predictable, but by taking inventory of your budget and savings as you head back to work, you can be prepared in both the long and short term for whatever may come.Basics of Financial Management
The first steps are simple. Determine what comes in each month and what must go out. Also, be sure to understand your health insurance, such as whether it has a high or low deductible and whether you need to make contributions to your health savings account. If you were getting insurance through your employer, and have lost that coverage — or your extended post-employment COBRA coverage is coming to an end — you will need to look at other resources for affordable replacement coverage. Depending on your current financial status, you may be eligible for coverage through your state's assistance plans or under the Affordable Care Act. Many agencies can help you find a plan if you aren't comfortable working on your own.
Having accomplished this, turn to saving for emergencies and retirement, and — only then — save for discretionary spending.Planning for the Unknown
Once you head back to work, it's time to take a fresh look at your budget and emergency fund. Your income may well have changed, and your work-related expenses may have changed as well. Both of these can impact how you need to manage expenses now. If you aren't sure how to do this on your own, you may want to look at a money management app to help you control both expenses and debt. Regardless, once these basics are under control in your changed circumstances, it's time to plan for emergencies and retirement, and consider ways to return to work safely.Plan for emergencies:
COVID-19 has proven that no job is guaranteed. The last six months about 58 million people have sought unemployment benefits, and unemployment remains high today. So, even if you're going back to work, an emergency fund is still essential. Ex