Man mounting pennies n a table. Concept: personal finances.
Betsy Wise
By: betsy_wise
Read in 9 minutes

How to Manage Your Personal Finances During a Crisis

If staying focused and thinking positively is hard enough when life is normal, how do you keep your personal finances on track during a crisis without succumbing to fear?

It’s possible to plan for potential financial disasters and stay calm in the middle of challenges. In other words, you can learn how to minimize worst-case scenarios by having a take-charge approach to deal with reduced income and revenue.

The theory makes sense, but, how can you put it into practice? Where to start? Here’s a quiz and a list of tips to help you manage your personal finances.

Find Out If You’re Financially Fluent

These questions target whether your personal finances are healthy. Later in the post, we’ll provide tips to help shore up your personal finances.

  1. Is facing your personal finances challenging? Maybe you didn’t receive the proper education in finances or you simply don’t like numbers, formulas, and spreadsheets. Whatever the reason, your financial future depends on how well you track your income and expenses. If facing your personal finances always overwhelms you, find help and resources to educate yourself about personal finances. There are a number of free resources and online courses you can benefit from in your spare time. Then, apply what you learn so personal finances seem less challenging.
  2. Do you know your exact income and expenses for each month? By knowing each amount, you can figure out whether you overspend or have money left over. That sum total lets you know if you have good or bad spending habits.
  3. How do you define your connection to money? Your mindset about money determines how you spend it. Do you use the money to pay expenses with a goal to plan and save for the future or is your motto, “spend every penny now?”
  4. Do you have one, five-year, and ten-year financial goals? Living paycheck to paycheck is like waiting for a volcano to erupt. When you are in control of your personal finances, you have Plan B in place to take you through a financial disaster. You actively pursue long-term financial goals to protect your business and your family when a crisis arises.

#CaminoTip
Have a goal-setting plan in place for your business and personal finances. This plan is not set in stone: you can modify it before, during, and after a crisis.

Tips to Follow Before, During, and After a Financial Crisis

We’ve broken down the following tips in stages. When your personal finances aren’t in stellar shape, the before tips will help you prepare for a crisis. Use the during tips to mitigate the effects of financial hardship and utilize the after tips to implement long-term solutions to keep your personal finances healthy.

BEFORE:

  • At a minimum, put away a total of 3 – 6 months of expenses into a savings account which should only be used as an emergency fund. Start saving cash every week or month until you reach your 3 – 6 month-goal.
  • A personal budget is similar to creating a business budget to monitor your income and expenses. Follow the 50/30/20 rule. Spend 50% of your after-tax income on needs (including debt), 30% on wants, and save the remaining 20%. Your goal is to have money left over to save.
  • Look into getting business interruption insurance which covers specific types of income loss which will ultimately protect your personal finances. Since there are different types of coverages, consult with an insurance agent who will recommend what’s best for your business.

DURING:

  • Determine the amount of cash you have available to cover all necessary expenses to include outstanding debt. If you have a shortfall, you may need to part with personal assets (jewelry, antiques, electronics, vehicles you don’t use, etc.) in order to pay off a credit card, as an example.
  • Cancel paid subscriptions to gyms/clubs and reduce how often you dine at restaurants. Curtail shopping for new clothing, attending concerts, etc. because these purchases add up quickly. Make your own coffee, prepare foods in bulk you can freeze or downsize to a less expensive home/apartment. If possible, stop using your credit cards until the crisis passes. It’s better to use cash so you don’t overspend.
  • Some banks automatically close accounts with negative or zero balances beyond a certain number of days (they should send a notice). Keep a minimum of $50 in your checking and savings accounts to ensure this doesn’t happen.
  • Call creditors and notify them of your financial hardship. Most creditors will work out a reduced payment plan. By all means, don’t stop paying your bills.

AFTER:

  • Check your personal credit report at least once a year to identify any problem areas and take care of them immediately. It’s important to keep your personal finances in order should you ever need to apply for a business loan because lenders look at your personal credit quality. Know what your credit utilization rate is (should be less than 30% of your total available credit).
  • In addition to your emergency fund, save money to cover retirement expenses and children’s college education.
  • Establish a goal to become debt-free. Pay off high-interest debt and secured loans first. Consider getting a debt consolidation loan so you have one loan repayment. Once you pay off debt, deposit the money you once used to pay debt into your emergency fund.

Why Personal Finance Matters for your Business?

When small business owners apply for loans, often lenders ask for both personal finance and business information. So, who gets assessed in a small business loan application, the business or the owner? The answer is simple: both.

In many ways, small business loans have similar characteristics to personal loans. Small businesses are typically managed and funded by the owner. Therefore, the personal credit quality of the owner partially drives the credit risk of the business. Beyond looking at the personal credit score of the business owner, lenders look for other metrics:

  1. Recent delinquencies, foreclosures, tax liens, or bankruptcies;
  2. Personal debt as a % of income;
  3. Annual household income
  4. Net worth

The metrics above highlight the owner’s ability to pay off a business loan. In an illustrative example, a small business makes $200,000 a year with no debt on the balance sheet. However, the sole owner has over $500,000 in personal debt with no other sources of income, savings, and property to pay off his personal obligations. In this case, despite the high cash flows of the business, the risky credit profile of the owner makes it difficult to finance the underlying business.

Similar to personal loans, small business loans require a personal guarantee from the owner. A personal guarantee ensures owners have “skin in the game.” With a personal guarantee, owners treat a business loan similar to a personal loan and as a result, are more incentivized to meet their payments on time.

While lenders overweigh business fundamentals compared to personal finances, small business owners must get their personal finances in order to minimize debt costs and maximize the debt capacity of their business. Below are some thresholds a business owner should meet or exceed to improve their chances of accessing affordable business financing:

  1. Personal Credit Score above 600 (although Camino Financial works with owners with scores as low as 500)
  2. No outstanding delinquencies, foreclosures, tax liens, or bankruptcies in the past 12-24 months
  3. Personal debt as a % of annual income below 50%
  4. Borrow less than 75% of credit lines available (don’t max out your credit cards)
  5. Net worth based on quantifiable assets such as property or cash savings

 Camino Financial Can Help During a Crisis

At Camino Financial, we provide financial products that also render tangible benefits. Our microloans and small business loans are available in a range of loan sizes and are tailored to the needs of our borrowers. The loans have flexible terms and limited restrictions on fund usage. For your convenience, you can apply for a loan online without leaving your home. Additionally, members may renew their loans and can graduate to better terms and rates once they make timely payments for 8 months.

If your available cash is lower than usual, a small business loan can help strengthen your financial outlook both personally and professionally.

Request a quote for a business loan to provide a cash buffer for your business.

Without missing a beat, you’ll also help to keep your personal finances functioning normally.

 

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