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Uploaded:2020-04-30
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In this episode, one woman discusses how she's handling money differently after receiving a pay cut due to the pandemic.

Through weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Video narration by Stephanie Murphy

Video by Grace Lee
https://www.youtube.com/c/WhatsSoGreatAboutThat
https://twitter.com/whatssograce

Written by Jazmine Reed-Clark

The Financial Diet site:
http://www.thefinancialdiet.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefinancialdiet
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TFDiet
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thefinancialdiet/?hl=en
At this point, most of us have been affected by COVID-19.

We're likely no more than six degrees away from someone who has it or someone whose life has been thrown recklessly into a dizzying tornado of fear, anxiety, and job loss. I live and work in Dallas.

At the beginning of March I was one week into my new job and concerned with hitting my metrics to secure the bonus I needed to compensate for the $7,500 pay cut I took to join the company. On the first Friday of my new job, we were told to work from home the following week. Like many leaders, they discouraged our worries with various articles, wishful strategy plans, and a well-meaning promise that our business likely wouldn't be affected.

About two weeks later, I received my first paycheck. Yay. And almost immediately, we received an email telling us that future paychecks would not much resemble that figure moving forward.

Boo. Everyone, including our founders, took some variation of a pay reduction. My base salary was shaved by 10% and my bonus structure was boiled down to a faint idea of something we hope to bring back.

In all, my take home pay was slimmed by 25%. As the newest employee, I was most relieved I was not furloughed or let go altogether. I still consider myself incredibly fortunate.

Here's why I feel confident I will be OK and how I'm handling the situation on all fronts. Reason number one. I'm armed with my emergency fund.

When my husband and I got married nearly three years ago, we each entered the marriage with some financial baggage to unpack. He, a person I've nicknamed frugal Frank to friends and to his face, had a healthy savings but some student loan debt from graduate school. I, someone who is likely to buy army pants and flip-flops because I saw Kati Herron wearing army pants and flip-flops, entered with no student loan debt but a car loan and a mere $1,000 in my savings account.

We sat down, looked at the numbers, and listed out our goals. Collectively, we decided he would focus on paying off his student loan debt and I would build my emergency fund. In the first year alone, I saved an additional $10,000 by selling my car.

And since, I've always kept at minimum $10,000 in my personal emergency fund account. Despite the reduction in pay, I know having a steady income of any kind is better than nothing. However, should I be laid off or furloughed, I'm comforted by the additional layer of security my emergency fund brings me.

I know that the extra $10,000 could pay our rent for several months or allow me to purchase health care. Reason number two. New circumstances call for a new budget.

Every New Year, I sit down to categorize my larger goals and list out the quarterly benchmarks I will need to hit to succeed. I keep a notes memo in my phone titled money diaries to track my progress. I have since deleted that note and started fresh, as if I was making a budget for the very first time.

Collectively, my husband and I looked at our new household income and planned for continued disruptions. We budgeted for a job loss and the prospect of needing to support any family members. We considered one of us losing health insurance and needing to get on the other's plan.

And just as any financial novice would, I began to delete subscription services, gym memberships, and highlighted every impulse purchase I had made in the new year. Reason number three. I adopted a new financial mindset.

I set out guidelines and rules for myself. For example, if there's produce in the fridge, you don't need to order takeout. And I wrote out new financial goals.

Worrying less about buying stocks this year and putting more energy into our joint high yield savings account. Pragmatically, I know these steps will prove useful. Emotionally, I do have days where I experience flashbacks of 22-year-old me when finances felt more like a guardrail from fun than a tool towards freedom.

On the upside, I've learned I can be quite the home chef. Reason number four. I'm getting more creative.

The simplicity has inspired a new surge of creativity and reconnection in my marriage. For my husband's birthday this year, I reached out to all his friends and family for nostalgic or unique recipes specific to their relationship. I asked each person to write a paragraph on the dish a la every food blogger.

And I created a digital cookbook to gift him. We've been creating his favorite recipes from it throughout our quarantine, because what else is there to do? Reason number five.

I allowed myself to play the what if game but only once. If my husband is the one good at pinching pennies and researching new hacks, I'm the one good at planning for the future and taking appropriate action fast. For instance, last year when he mentioned the economy may be due for a recession, I ensured we downgraded to a one bedroom and had a massive garage sale.

I have to let myself plan for every scenario. What if one of us loses our job? We have an emergency fund.

We have, or had, side hustles. We're both in reasonably common industries. We could pick up additional work and live very lean.

What if that's not enough? What if we both lose our job? We could break our lease and live with family.

What if we can't live with family? We have friends and co-workers in the city who we could potentially live with and so on. It helped me devise a step by step plan should the worst come to fruition.

And while most of the above may never take place, I take a type of mental retreat knowing what the worst could resemble. Reason number six. I am acknowledging my trauma.

I know we've all seen the various posts on social media ranging from the militant to the maternal. But one of the best pieces of advice I received was from a co-worker. She shared that we're all experiencing the several stages of grief.

After hearing that, I gave myself permission to experience my reality with every emotion I was feeling. Being given the space and freedom to grieve was more liberating than expected. And I will continue to experience my new world as it comes.