Managing money, especially during unexpected seasons like the coronavirus pandemic, can easily create fear and panic in people’s minds.
Thankfully, Christian financial adviser and best-selling author Dave Ramsey recently reached out to his blog readers and offered seven practical steps to guide those concerned about making ends meet during this uncertain time.
But before revealing the dollar-stretching step that made number one on his list, Ramsey paused to remind his anxious readers to calm down and take a deep breath.
“Did you do it?” he asked.
Ramsey knew that fear was the first enemy that needed to be defeated before any rational thinking could be achieved.
So, with that worry out of the way, he offered step number one.
“If you aren’t already living on a budget, the time is now!” he wrote. This initial step will reveal just how much money there is to work with, pinpointing where every spent dollar ends up going.
Then, with that in mind, he emphasized survival in step number two, reminding his readers that the needs, or “Four Walls” as he called them, are different from the wants.
And temporary sacrifices will be part of the process.
“When the going gets rough — like it is right now — you need to focus on the things you really need to survive,” Ramsey wrote.
Once those priorities — that is, food, utilities, shelter and transportation — are met, he suggested tackling additional payments in order of importance, adding, “When you run out of money — that’s it.”
Ramsey gave his readers another reality check with the simple truth of the matter: When the money’s gone, it’s gone.
Stressing out won’t help, but steps three through seven will. These steps entail practical efforts, such as pausing debt payments until the crisis is over, selling personal items, getting a side job and finding unnecessary expenses to cut.
“We know making sacrifices like this can feel like adding insult to injury when you’re already hurting,” he wrote. “You’re making temporary sacrifices to tread water until this storm passes and you’re back on your feet again.”
For step number seven, Ramsey suggested reaching out to a local church or community group for help, with a word of caution.
“Let’s be clear here: Try to do everything in your power first before you seek help like this,” he clarified. “But, in times of real need, don’t be too prideful to ask for a helping hand.”
The local church is meant to be a beacon of hope in its community, but Ramsey warned against taking advantage of charitable organizations so they can help those in real need.
On his radio show earlier this month, Ramsey warned his listeners about the tendency to over-correct and/or freak out during stressful times.
“When we get terrified we have a tendency to over-correct,” he said.
He explained that by over-correcting, humans tend to analyze a time of crisis through their natural default mechanism — the decision to overreact or underreact.
“I’m a glass-half-full, abundance, anger-based person,” Ramsey said. “Some people are glass-half-empty, scarcity-based, fear-based people.”
“Some of you are completely going crazy and overreacting and hysterical. And some of you are underreacting — me, as an example. I underreact all the time with this kind of stuff just because I refuse to be fear-based. It drives me nuts,” Ramsey said.
He concluded that things will be affected in the short term, but not for an extended period of time.
“You’re gonna be OK. You’re gonna be OK,” he reassured everyone.
His blog post, meanwhile, ended with hopeful and encouraging words: “[W]e can get through this. We already are getting through it. Moment by moment. Day by day. Hope springs eternal. And that hope is worth a lot more than a giant stash of hand sanitizer and bulk toilet paper.”