By Danielle Harrison, CFP
I don’t know about you, but it feels a bit like déjà vu. Last year at this time, I had just started my financial planning firm and made the official announcement that I was taking on clients. Within hours I received a call that my youngest son had a positive COVID-19 case in his daycare class and would need to quarantine for ten days. Luckily, he never got sick, but I spent the next week and a half juggling taking care of an infant while trying to complete critical tasks in my business.
Fast forward and shortly after celebrating one year in business, not one, but both of my boys had positive COVID-19 cases in their classrooms. Combine quarantining with snow days and the threat of closures due to daycare staffing issues, not to mention the isolation over the last two years and I was left feeling frazzled and disheartened. If this is the “new normal,” I’m not interested!
Although everyone’s situation is different, there aren’t many who have escaped the struggles presented by the pandemic and the toll it has taken both mentally and physically. What advice do I give to both myself and my clients?
Give Yourself Grace!
Many of the individuals I work with are very much like me: highly ambitious professionals with lots on their plate. They have come to a point in their lives and careers where money is no longer their most limited resource... time is! They are juggling a demanding career, their families, trying to form and maintain friendships, and create a little space for themselves. Throw in a pandemic, and there is no doubt that stress levels are high.
As I meet with these individuals and their families, they tend to feel badly about the extras they have indulged in over the last couple of years. The biggest regret is increased spending on takeout and restaurant deliveries. They have shame because they have splurged and seem defeated by not being able to keep up with everything that has been thrown at them.
It’s Okay to Spend on Things that Give You Back Your Time and Sanity
Now, if you are living beyond your means or aren’t consistently saving for your future, this advice is not directed towards you, but for many of my clients, overspending is not an issue. They are in a position where their salaries more than cover their expenses and they are saving for both their short and long-term goals.
Spending on items that help you survive the day-to-day struggles and allow you to be more present can be very valuable. For some, this is a no-brainer, but for others it can be hard to spend on conveniences and conjures up feelings of guilt. I find that the majority of the individuals who feel this way did not grow up wealthy and it is an unfamiliar concept that they pay for luxuries that make their lives easier. It can be incredibly reassuring to these individuals and families that someone who intimately knows their financial situation, tells them, “It’s okay. You can take your foot off the pedal and spend money on things that bring you joy and keep you sane. Everything will be just fine.”
If you are in survival mode, give yourself some grace during the trying times in your life. Find some quiet and envision what would make your life less complicated. Maybe that is hiring help around the house — someone to clean, cook some healthy meals, help with the kids or take care of the lawn. Perhaps that is spending a little more on prepared foods and convenience items, so you have more time to spend with your kids, partner or on yourself.
You can also look at outsourcing areas of your life where you aren’t an expert such as an accountant to help with tax preparation or a financial planner who can partner with you to help you make sound financial decisions and follow through on them, letting you sleep easier at night. Whatever it is that can make your situation seem more manageable, don’t just dismiss it. Spending a small portion of your income on these conveniences can make a big difference in your stress levels and is worth considering.
About the author: Danielle Harrison, CFP®
Danielle R. Harrison, MBA, CFP®, CFT-I™ is the founder and president of Harrison Financial Planning, a fee-only financial planning firm based in Mid-Missouri and equipped to work with clients across the country. Harrison Financial Planning provides comprehensive financial planning and investment management and is there to help guide clients through any financial decisions that arise. Harrison Financial Planning specializes in working with busy professionals and retirees who enjoy giving back through their profession, volunteerism, or charitable giving.