How to Build Financial Resilience in a Crisis – 7 Expert Tips From a Debt Coach

By: Stuart Sampson

I am a planner. That’s why I keep a diary. A diary gives me an idea of what to expect, a sense of control.

Of course, I didn’t have coronavirus in my diary, I didn’t expect it, and there is very little I can do to control it.

Even if you don’t keep a diary, most people like to know what’s around the corner, so you can be prepared. As humans we thrive off consistency, routine and the feeling of control. If we don’t feel in control, we panic — and buy boat loads of toilet paper.

“If we’re not in control, why bother having a budget? The answer is, because it will help us become financially resilient.”

I especially like to feel a sense of control over my personal finances; that’s why I have a budget. Coronavirus didn’t feature in my budget either.

This uncertain season has reminded me of the difference between being in control, and being resilient. The truth is, I don’t have total control over the state of my finances or market forces that affect them – only God is in control.

But if I am not in control, then why bother having a budget? The answer is, because it will help me wisely cultivate financial resilience, using the resources given to me. Resilience is about being flexible, durable and able to last when the unexpected happens.

Seven Steps Towards Financial Resilience

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The financial resilience of many people in our nation is about to face a great challenge. But even if you’re swimming in an ocean of debt, it is never too late to start turning the ship around, and working towards a healthier position.

We will probably all feel the effects of this crisis in some way or another, so it’s wise to take time to consider what position you are in financially right now.

Here are some things I’m doing to build financial resilience, that you can do, too.

1 – Talk about your budget

The first step towards financial resilience is simple, but often avoided: start talking about it! My wife and I usually sit down together once a month to talk about our budget. It’s a good chance to take stock and consider what is coming up, and make adjustments. Bring that date forward. Set aside some time in the next few days to talk about money with your spouse, partner, or – if you’re on your own, find someone you trust who you can talk to about it. If you have never written a budget or talked much about money, now is a good time to find your next CAP Money course and get started.

2 – Consider your current money priorities

I know we all like to consider ourselves ‘Aussie battlers’, but the truth is, most of us have more than we need, and our money is mostly spent on wants. Now is a good time to consider where to ‘cut costs’, ‘cut back’ or ‘cut out’, in line with new and changing priorities. Some things may have to change for a while.

3 – Cut up the credit card – yes, really!

Living on credit does nothing to build our financial resilience. If things start getting tight, the last thing I need is a debt I can’t afford to pay. Please – stop using your credit card. Your frequent flyer points are no good when airlines are grounded; and debit cards can do everything a credit card can.

4 – Live below your means

When we spend every dollar we earn, it is impossible to build any financial resilience. The only way to put money aside for the unexpected is by spending less than you earn.

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5 – Give others support

You may feel okay with where you are at financially, and if so, that’s great! If that is you, in a time like the present crisis, being financially comfortable comes with a responsibility to check in with those around you. You don’t have to be a financial adviser or counsellor to ask friends, family and colleagues how they are going.

6 – Reach out for help

You might be starting to really worry about what is to come. Maybe all this talk of financial resilience is making you worry that you won’t be able to weather the storm. If so, ask for help. People can’t help you if they think everything is fine. If you don’t know anyone in your close circle who can assist, call CAP on 1300 227 000, and a debt counsellor will be able to talk to you, listen to your situation, and guide you in some positive steps forward.

7 – Pray!

The Bible teaches us not to be anxious; not because there is nothing to worry about, but because God knows and loves us, and has promised to take care of us. By taking things one day at a time (remember, he asks us to pray for our daily bread, not our monthly bread!), we can rest knowing God is in control and knows our needs.

In fact, this last step is the most important. All the money in the world can’t protect us from the unknowns of tomorrow, and the anxiety of not being in control. But a trust that is built on the promises of God, is a safety that cannot be shaken.

Budgeting will change your life for the better

Financial resilience might start with a budget; something material. In time, however, these habits form a strength of character, with deep roots that can’t be shaken. My prayer is not just that you would be financially resilient at this time, but for people faith, I also pray that the discipline of budgeting builds a resilience in you that’s rock solid, thanks to the confidence we have in Jesus.

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Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

About the Author: Stuart is the Head of CAP Money, the budgeting course of for Christians Against Poverty Australia.