Brace Your Finances for the ‘New’ Normalcy
Excitement builds as U.S moves to post-pandemic life; American Consumer Credit Counseling advise consumers to think of their financial health
(Boston, MA) – July 6, 2021 – The excitement of moving into post-pandemic life – and resuming leisure activities like vacation travel, dining out, and live entertainment – could put consumers at risk of overspending and quickly digging a financial hole. The national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is urging Americans to revisit their household budget and retune their financial health.
“It is important that consumers take the time to take a deep look at their finances and decide where they want their money to go, especially for those that have been able to save throughout the pandemic,” said Allen Amadin, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “It’s important that we don’t let the excitement of having some normalcy return negatively impact our financial health.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in May 2021 was 5.8 percent, a significant decrease compared to an unemployment rate of 13.3 percent in May 2020. In comparison, ACCC’s Q1 2021 Financial Health Index found that 37 percent of respondents felt their employment was very stable, an increase from 30 percent in Q4 2020 Financial Health Index.
“Americans are feeling much more confident with their finances as the country begins to shift towards post-pandemic life,” says Katie Ross, Executive Vice President at American Consumer Credit Counseling. “It is important to remember that as we step back into the world, some things, such as gas, have gone up in price, and Covid-19 relief benefits for many people are coming to an end.”
It is important that consumers keep in mind that rent and mortgage relief will end on June 30, expanded unemployment benefits will end on September 6, and federal student loan relief will end on September 30. Consumers will be expected to resume making these payments, which could hurt their financial position if they are not prepared. Local and state-by-state moratoriums on electricity shut-offs and other such relief are also ending.
ACCC explains necessary advice consumers should utilize as they enter post-pandemic life:
- Revisit your budget – After more than a year of staying home, consumers’ budgets will need to be revamped and include travel, dining out, etc. Look at your current income and spending. Making slight adjustments may allow you to save more or put more money towards paying down debts. It is important that you avoid temptations and only spend what you can afford. Consumers do not want their initial excitement to lead to bad financial habits in the future.
- Rebuild emergency fund – Many consumers had to dip into their emergency funds throughout the pandemic, whether that was due to job loss or unexpected medical bills, so it is important to focus on rebuilding that fund. Originally it was suggested to have three to six months’ worth of expenses saved, but now, following a year-long pandemic, experts are suggesting consumers try to save six to 12 months’ worth of expenses. Try to cut back on unnecessary expenses and put that money into your emergency fund.
- Establish financial goals – The ACCC Financial Health Index for the First Quarter of 2021 found that a year into the pandemic, 60 percent of respondents’ financial goals have changed, with 24 percent of respondents saying that a key financial goal now is to simply keep up with monthly expenses. Take a moment to establish some long- and short-term goals. Consider the future and decide how much you want to save, where you want to live, etc. Short-term goals range from one month to a year. For example, consumers may want to eliminate credit card debt or establish an emergency savings fund as a short-term goal. Long-term goals are usually achieved in five or more years and involve a more methodical savings approach. These goals may include paying off a mortgage, becoming debt free, saving for a big purchase like a house or car, or saving for retirement.
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management through credit counseling, debt management, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling, and financial education concerning debt solutions. To help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loan assistance, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living, and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education.aspx