family working during Quarantine

If you’re like many Americans, you’ve probably found yourself with additional time on your hands. In fact, a recent study found that average Americans with access to the Internet are streaming a least eight hours a day, along with binge-watching three shows a week, amidst the pandemic and stay-at-home orders. This data reveals that we probably have some time to now tackle those important items on our to-do list that we may have been putting off.

1. Get Organized. If you’re like many, there’s some room in your life for more organization. Go through old file cabinets and closets to throw out, add to the donate pile, or shred what is no longer needed. Create a more efficient storage space by adding accurate labeling to make it easier to locate things like receipts, photos, craft items, holiday items, and everyday household items. Don’t forget about your online files as well. Organize online folders, delete information you no longer need, and install any updates and anti-virus protections that you’ve needed to bring up-to-date.

2. Organize Your Household Budget. If you haven’t taken a careful look at your monthly expenses lately, this may be a good time to do so. Given recent events, this is a good time to consider where you can cut back on your household expenses. Have you shopped around for the best insurance rates lately? What about the cost of your cable and/or streaming services? Have you looked at what rate you’re paying on your home’s mortgage? Rates are low, so you may want to shop around, compare rates, and determine if you could shave costs off of your monthly payment with a mortgage refinance.

Write down all of your expenses with a pen and paper, create a budget online, or use a budgeting app to track what expenses you have, where your money is going, and ways you may be able to reduce costs—even after the pandemic has ended.

3. Estate Planning. Although this is a topic not everyone wants to consider, it’s still an important task. Unfortunately, the number of people who now have a will or estate planning document has decreased by as much as 25% since just three short years ago. Often, people think that estate planning is only for those people with businesses, large estates, property, or the wealthy; however, that simply isn’t true. According to David Frederick, Director of Wealth Planning for First Bank Wealth Management, “Anyone who is wanting to plan for the futuire and relieving some of the burden on their families, could benefit from at least a basic estate plan.”

To learn more about estate planning, watch a video prepared by Frederick.

4. Develop a Short-Term and Long-Term Savings Plan. If you’re in the enviable position of maintaining your job and income during the shelter-in-place orders, then this may be a good time to consider developing some savings goals. Have you built up an emergency savings fund, or up to three month’s worth of living expenses? If not, consider opening an insured savings account by setting up an online appointment with one of First Bank’s knowledgeable staff members. You can then start automatic deposits or transfers to your savings account. It truly doesn’t matter how small or large the regular deposit amount is as long as you’re starting down the path to growing a savings account. You’ll probably find that you enjoy watching your savings grow with each deposit.

Have you completed a recent retirement review? Although this is a turbulent market environment, it’s good to check-in with a knowledgeable financial advisor to see if you’re on track with your long-term retirement planning. Perhaps, this is a good time to re-balance your investment portfolio? What about setting up another savings option, such as with a Certificate of Deposit (CD)? Reach out to one of First Bank’s highly-skilled trusted advisors to discuss your options today.

5. Helping Others. Finding ways to help others, especially during a difficult time, can help us gain some sense of control and peace. Research reputable organizations to see how you may be able to help, both with your time and your money. As organizations may find themselves assisting a larger percentage of the population, they’re probably looking for more ways to serve their clients. Consider clever ways to help or to help raise funds even in our new, contactless environment. You may even want to do some shopping for the most needed items for those organizations. Use your First Bank Debit Mastercard® for all of your secure, online purchases.

There are many ways to put this downtime to good use that could possibly benefit you down the road. What are other items on your to-do list that you could tackle now and long after the pandemic has ended? The options are endless!

* Survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Tubi.
* Caring.com 2020 Estate Planning and Wills Survey