We’re in the midst of a pandemic right now, so it’s not surprising that many of us are worrying about money.
COVID-19 has temporarily shut down businesses across the country and around the globe. Many Americans have been laid off, furloughed, or had their working hours reduced. In fact, the unemployment rate in April of 2020 is higher than it’s been since The Great Depression.
Even for those of us who are still employed full-time, worries continue to loom in the back of our minds.
What will happen to the economy? Are more layoffs coming? When will the stock market recover? How much money will we lose in our retirement funds? When is this pandemic going to end? When will things be “normal” again?
We all know that worrying isn’t helpful, but how do we stop worrying in uncertain times like these?
Here are a few tips that I hope you’ll find helpful.
The Worst Case Scenario
When your mind starts going to worst case scenarios, you might try to reassure yourself with empty platitudes like “everything happens for a reason” or “I just need to think positively.” Trying to resist your anxiety and fear will likely make it worse, and you’ll just continue to obsess over “what if” scenarios.
Instead of trying to avoid your worry, I’d recommend doing something that might seem counter-intuitive.
Let your mind go to the worst case scenario and explore it a little bit.
What is your worst case scenario? That you lose your job? That you run out of savings? That you can’t find another job?
Imagine this situation.
I love the quote: Anxiety says “what if?” Faith says “even if.”
Even if you lose your job, you’ll find a way to be okay. Even if you blow through your entire emergency fund, you will find a way to get by. Even if you struggle to find a new job, you will find a way to feed your family.
Even if the worst happens, you will get through it somehow.
When we can accept the worst case scenario, this is how we find some peace and freedom from constant worrying.
Remember that you have options. When we’re scared, we often fall into catastrophic thinking. We imagine that if we lose our jobs, we’ll definitely run out of money, not be able to feed our families, and we’ll end up living in a box on the street.
While obviously this could happen, it likely won’t. Research has shown that 85% of the things we worry about never actually happen.
Educate yourself about some of the options that are available to people who are struggling financially during this pandemic.
I’m not going to go too in-depth here, but here’s a list of several potential resources:
- Unemployment – for those who have been laid off and are unable to find work
- Paid sick leave – (paid by your employer) for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are caring for someone with COVID-19, or are unable to find childcare for their children due to the pandemic. This leave is required under a new law called the FFCRA (Families First Coronavirus Response Act).
- Delayed payments – Many mortgage companies, loan providers, and banks are currently offering deferred payments, deferred interest, or other assistance programs to help those who are struggling to pay their bills right now. If you need to reduce your bills, reach out to your service providers and see if they are offering any discounts, waived fees, or other assistance during this time.
- Refunds – If you haven’t already, you might be receiving a stimulus check from the federal government as well as refund checks from certain businesses. Many car insurance companies are sending checks to their customers (we recently received a $100 check from ours). There are fewer cars on the road right now – which means fewer accidents – and insurance companies are passing those savings on to their customers.
- Eviction bans – Depending on where you live, it might be illegal (temporarily) for your landlord to evict you or for your home to be foreclosed upon. You’ll still owe your rent or mortgage payment, as always, but you can’t lose your home…which will give you some breathing room while you figure out a financial plan.
- Nonprofits – we’re expected to practice social distancing, but nonprofits continue to help those in need. Food banks and other essential services are still available.
Create a Plan
After you’ve educated yourself about your options, create a financial plan. Remember that it is 100% okay if your plan is simply to scrape by the best that you can. If you’ve been working on building savings or paying off debt, it’s okay to stop right now.
Your #1 priority is keeping yourself and your family fed, housed, clothed, and healthy. Do what you need to do to make that happen, and remember that there is no shame in asking for help or seeking assistance. Everyone falls on hard times.
Get assistance if you need it, create a bare bones budget (and stick to it!), and make a plan.
Lean On Your Faith
You’ve educated yourself, you’ve created a new budget, and you have a financial plan.
Now is the time to stop worrying.
Worry pretends to be useful because it disguises itself as preparation.
James Bryan Smith (host of one of my favorite podcasts!) said “Worrying is what we do AFTER we’ve already prepared.”
At this point, you’ve done everything you can do. I find so much peace in leaving the rest up to God. When you’re struggling financially, leaning on your faith can be helpful.
You may not have faith in yourself or the economy or the global situation, but you can always, always, always count on God.
You know that He will always provide for you. We often don’t know how or what exactly his provision will look like, but we can find peace in knowing that He will provide.
I love this quote from Dave Ramsey: “Work like it all depends on you. Pray like it all depends on God.”
Stop Worrying and Start Living
These are stressful, unprecedented times. It’s okay if you’re feeling uncertain, anxious, or worried.
The best advice I can give you is this: accept the worst case scenario. When you can truly do this, you’ll stop “spinning” and obsessing over “what if” scenarios.
Anxiety says “what if?” Faith says “even if.”
Even if the worst case scenario happens, you’ll get through it. You are stronger than you think and your track record for getting through difficult times is 100%.
You’ve got this!
Here are some other resources you might find helpful:
- The Key to Overcoming Anxiety
- How to Manage OCD During a Pandemic
- 20 Things I’m Thankful for During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- How to Stay Positive When You’re Stuck at Home
- How to Find Contentment When You’re Deep in Debt