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As more Americans return to activities they had put on hold since the start of the pandemic, a more normal-looking summer may be ahead for us. But what does “normal” mean for your finances? Tracy Stotler, Senior Vice President and Regional Manager at Hills Bank, has a few tips to help you stay on top of the financial demands of post-pandemic life.
Return of the Commute
Some workplaces may continue a fully remote or hybrid model for their employees. But many offices in our area will be bringing workers back sooner rather than later. “Many people haven’t had to budget for things like the cost of gas or lunches with friends or co-workers for a long time,” Stotler said. “Take a few moments to think through what your day looked like prior to the pandemic, including expenses that come up semi-regularly like car maintenance.”
Think About What Matters
One silver lining that has come out of the pandemic is the opportunity for people to reevaluate what their financial priorities are.
“In the hustle and bustle of ordinary life, it can be hard to take a step back and really think about your spending.” Stotler said. “But now is the perfect time to take a close look at your budget and determine what you might want to change as life gets back to normal. And if you don’t yet have a budget, there’s no better time to start one.”
Besides being mindful of your big-picture spending, Stotler also recommended pausing before making a purchase you don’t need. “When all you need to do to make an impulse buy is click a button on your screen, it’s very easy to spend more money than you had planned,” she said. “For some people, the pandemic has caused excessive spending that they might want to rein in.”
Earn Interest on Your Savings
Thanks to lower overall consumer spending and a series of stimulus checks, Americans are saving more of their money than any time in recent history. “If you’re fortunate enough to have sizable savings, it’s important to make that cash work for you by earning interest,” Stotler said, “because if your money isn’t growing, it’s actually losing value.”
That’s because inflation has reached a 13-year high, with everything from food to clothes to used cars becoming more expensive year over year, according to the U.S. Consumer Price Index. As inflation rises, it takes more of your money to purchase these items.
“Financial institutions like Hills Bank have a number of ways to help you grow your savings over time,” Stotler said. “Be sure to take advantage of them!”
Support Your Community: Shop Local
In the early stages of the pandemic, many stores and restaurants closed; some temporarily, some permanently. After a year of customers having food delivered and shopping online, businesses across the Corridor are eager to welcome us back inside.
“By shopping at local stores and eating at local restaurants, you’ll help create jobs in our community for one of the hardest hit industries over the past year,” Stotler said.
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