So, let’s face it. 2020 was the worst.
The multitude of upsets from the past year are still having ripple effects on many people as we get ready to ring in yet another new year. But what if we look at the past year in review as a learning tool, rather than just giving it a resounding thumbs down? There are a few valuable lessons to make 2021 a much better year.
Establish an Emergency Fund
It’s been repeated so many times that it’s beginning to sound like a broken record: Start saving NOW for an emergency fund. There are many opinions on what amount should be in your emergency fund – everything from three months’ worth of living expenses up to one-year worth of living expenses. Based on experiences from the past year, and the fact that there were and are still people facing over 10 months of unemployment, it’s safe to say that the guidelines are out the window. At this point, you need to work on the assumption that something is better than nothing.
If you are in a place where you can start putting some money aside for a rainy day (or another global pandemic), now is the best time to get started. Any amount of funds that you have available to help you get through a rough patch is going to be a bonus when compared to no savings at all. Break out that piggy bank and squirrel away any coins you find. When your great-aunt Betsy gives you $5 for your birthday, add it to your Plan B account, rather than buying that bag of chips and a soda. It is hard to save money when compared to immediate gratification (i.e. food, drinks, entertainment, etc.), but having some stability in case of emergency will prove extremely helpful in the long run.
It’s not just a slogan for the Boy Scouts anymore! Maybe you prefer to live on the edge – five miles left to fill up the gas tank or passing on a food run for necessities in favor of rushing home to hit the couch. This type of risk taking was fine prior to shortages, limited store hours, and lengthy quarantines, but let’s take a note from the book of 2020 and be prepared to spend some time at home without ready availability to some items.
Another downside is our dependence on the apps on our phone that deliver things right to our front door. We don’t think to the future, only our immediate needs/wants. For example, now is the time to make sure you have enough non-perishable food items so you can prepare meals for up to a week. We’re not suggesting you hoard an amount of supplies that you will never use within a two-year period. Just be mindful that while we as a society are used to immediate gratification and having everything at our fingertips, we should prepare for a time when a service or product might be unavailable for a few days.
Flexibility goes a long way
As one of my elementary teachers used to say, “Accept the things you can’t change and change the things you can’t accept.” Good advice, as there’s been a clear strain on the mental, physical, and emotional stamina of people over this past year. Perhaps we can all learn to accept those things we can’t change by planning ahead for how to deal with them. Give yourself a break and save the worrying for the big things, not life’s little curveballs. Change is inevitable, but if you can learn to adjust and go with the flow you will save yourself the stress and other side effects that come with standing against change.
Make sure you are taking care of yourself
Treat yourself! It could be as simple as a cup of hot tea while petting your dog, or venting to a friend about the “worst day ever.” Or maybe it’s just a slow walk around the block while taking deep breaths. Do whatever you need to do to keep your mental and physical health in check. There’s no judgement if you just need to take five minutes away from your family or work from a different room than your spouse in order to get some time for yourself. Everyone has a breaking point and the objective of the game is to know what yours is and how you can avoid getting to that point.
Be kind and help your friends, family and community
Everyone has had a different experience over the past year and we are all dealing with those events in different ways. Let’s remember to be kind and patient with others, as we cannot say what they have experienced. Reach out to your family, friends and neighbors to check in on them and see how they’re doing. Perhaps someone needs a roll of toilet paper or a can of peas. A small gesture at a time like this can mean the world to someone who just needs to make a connection.
As we prepare to usher in a new year in 2021, let’s try to leave the negativity of 2020 behind and bring the positive vibes with hope for a better year. First Keystone Community Bank is very appreciative of the understanding and loyalty that our customers have shown us over the past year and we are proud to be your community bank. Cheers to a better 2021!