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In this episode, one woman tells us the permanent lifestyle changes she's keeping from the pandemic.

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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 Anjelica Jayes

Video by Grace Lee

Based on an article by Keertana Anandraj

The Financial Diet site:

Making It Work is brought to you by the AICPA.

Visit to learn more. I suspect 2020 has been a tough year for us all.

We've adjusted to a slew of new lifestyle changes, from work from home adjustments, to travel restrictions, to incorporating masks and hand sanitizer into our daily routines. But as the year comes to an end, I've certainly made a few adjustments that I intend to keep for the long run, from physical tangible changes to my environment, to mindset adjustments. Number one, indulging and investing in my living space.

Invest in decor, DIY, and other details to tailor your space. These days, our homes are multifunctional, multipurpose domains for work, living, entertaining, and so much more. Pre-COVID, I probably spend 10 hours a day in my house on average, with eight to nine of those being asleep.

As such, I didn't invest in my space much. I used to live in a large town home with six roommates all to keep rent low. And my room was decorated with only the necessities, from a small desk to a comfortable mattress.

Now, however, I've come to appreciate my space. I moved to a spacious apartment with just one other roommate, my own bathroom, and plenty of plants and decorations. I've also begun to indulge in my space in small ways, like buying flowers every two weeks, lighting candles nearly every evening, and investing in comfy pillows and throws.

In my previous living arrangements, these are adjustments I may have only made if, say, I had a friend visiting. But these days, from sunlight to fresh scents, I allow myself to soak in my space and really benefit from everything it has to offer. I'm cognizant of the immense privilege I've had in being able to make a big move during this pandemic, because of course, not everyone has that option.

Number two, nourish yourself for the long run, not just treat yourself for now. We have all fallen prey to the risky treat yourself mentality, like paying for an expensive pedicure or a bath bomb, believing it'll make us feel better. More often than not, these are only temporary shifts to our stress levels and moods.

I found that what I really needed to do in order to truly reset was nourish my mind, body, and soul. For me, nourishing myself means a long Facetime call with a close friend, opening our hearts to one another, and laughing through the hard times. It means taking the time and making the effort to set up genuinely refreshing virtual sessions with loved ones, like pasta making with an actual pasta maker or watching the Great British Baking Show every week over a Netflix party.

It also means carving out time for certain chores, like cooking, so that I can enjoy the process and not feel stressed out about it. It means prioritizing therapy in my budget over takeout, setting aside time on my work calendar to exercise daily, and making time to read or pursue other hobbies I love. While a lot of these overlap with self-care, some don't.

And the distinction, though minor, is important. Number three, meditating daily. I'll admit it.

I only meditate for five to seven minutes a day. But that's still a huge improvement over zero. Meditation is most effective when it's done daily as a preventative form of protecting your peace, not just a reactionary response to stress in dire times.

While I began the year with a plan to commit to increased mindfulness, I didn't actually think I could stick to it. But with nothing but time on our hands, I've made it a point to experiment with different meditation poses, styles, and techniques until I find what works best for me. While I'm not always the best meditation student, I do find myself with a clear mind and heart on the days I prioritize it.

As such, this is a practice I hope to continue into the future, not just when times are tough and time is abundant. Number four, really listening to my body. 2020 is the year where I finally understood and engaged in the phrase, listen to your body. I've grown to have more compassion for my hormone-ridden form.

Pre-COVID, I operated on a strict schedule. On Sundays, I'd grocery shop, meal prep, and spend the evening with friends. I'd sleep in until about 6:00 AM on Monday and hit the gym after work, fitting in two workouts.

I'd then diligently workout every morning at 5:30 AM from Tuesday through Friday, eating the meals I had prepped over the weekend, only indulging in takeout if I had an event, like book club, or was meeting a friend. Over the weekend, I wouldn't workout and placed no restrictions on my meals. Then come Monday, the cycle would begin all over again.

Given that I took public transit to work and walked everywhere, my lifestyle was active and healthy, but also tough. I always signed up in advance for group fitness classes. So even if I felt tired or sore, canceling wasn't exactly a budget friendly option, given that I'd have to pay a fee.

And if I wanted different food by Thursday than what I had prepped on Sunday, I was just out of luck. While this strict routine did wonders for my budget, including contributing to me paying off my student debt months after graduation, it didn't leave much room for me to really listen to my body and what it needed. I've now gone not one, but two days without working out.

And while it can partially be attributed to laziness, it's mostly a result of soreness. I'm listening to my body and taking it easy and not beating myself up about it. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to be back at it.

And I know that. I've also begun listening to what my body needs in terms of nutrition and rest. If I'm hungrier on some days compared to others, I accept it.

If I have a craving, I indulge it to an extent. I no longer follow a strict schedule of meals, since being at home, I have flexibility with what I cook. And I've taken to resting more, because while I typically get eight hours of sleep a night and have trouble napping during the day, I've begun to simply take breaks when I need to.

While this time is temporary and overwhelmingly negative, I'm still hoping to have lifelong takeaways from it that are positive. If you are a small business owner or freelancer, you're used to wearing many hats. But often delegating your business tasks can end up saving you a lot more in the long run.

We highly recommend using the services of a certified public accountant to help you reach your business goals. CPAs are qualified financial experts who give advice all year round, not just during tax season. Thanks to their financial expertise and broad business knowledge, they can help you with the parts of your business you should almost never DIY, such as financial and tax planning, business valuation, accounting services, and setting and meeting your business growth goals.

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