Managing finances during a time of crisis –

A charity CEO perspective

On the 12th March 2020 life changed for everyone.  Self preservation kicked in for the charity I lead, my family and my friends.  My immediate concern was the health and safety of my family, friends and colleagues and how we would all get through the situation.  I watched many government press conferences and took in way too much information, that was at best hopeful and at worst devastating.

There was so much to consider as we’d never faced such a sharp change both personally and for the charity that would have an immediate impact.  As far as the plan for the charity, I am hugely experienced in managing the charity and it felt natural to focus on this rather than on the family initially.  However, as my grown up children faced job losses and changes and my partner immediately lost all his work, I found myself in a crisis  that I had never had to deal with.  Luckily I have an enormous amount of resilience and after the initial shock of thinking about how we would financially survive, I took stock and considered who and what was available to us as a family to help us through and to help us see the light at the end of a very long tunnel.

So I:

  1. Stood back and assessed what cost saving measures could we take and made a plan
  2. Could we get a mortgage/rent holiday?
  3. I cancelled unnecessary direct debits
  4. I put together a weekly and monthly budget for food and essentials
  5. I cancelled club memberships/ online memberships (gin club had to go!)
  6. I planned our meals for each week and did more home cooking and baking
  7. I followed Martin Lewis and listened to his advice – he seemed to be more tuned in to public fears than the government
  8. We pooled our family resources and contacted all of our providers to ask for time to pay
  9. I focussed on what I could do rather than what I couldn’t do and planned around that
  10. I considered taking my car off the road, but decided against it in the end in case I need to go out

Fortunately, for us we still had an income, but it was cut in half overnight, so we made essential economies and have continued with our plan so hopefully we will be ok. My daughter now has a much lower paid job in the NHS and my partner has just returned to work, so we think we have weathered the storm for now.

However, I am well aware that it’s not the same for everyone, so I would urge anyone facing financial hardship to reach out to as many suppliers and providers of support as possible.  Banks are being a little more flexible, utility companies are helpful, but it’s important to take the emotion out of any negotiations.  Look at the facts and be as reasonable as you can afford to be without over promising.  This situation has hit everyone , all differently, but none of it is your fault.  We didn’t mismanage our finances, we worked hard and we communicated well with those that we rely on for financial help.  Some will accommodate, some won’t.  My daughters landlords did not!  She had to move flat during lockdown, find additional monies for a deposit and find a removal firm to help her.  It wasn’t easy and could have been avoided if the landlords had been more accommodating and not just thought about their ‘profit’.  However, it was blessing really as she now has a bigger apartment with a lower more affordable rent, which is good considering she doesn’t know how long her work will go on for.

Be kind to yourself and those around you .  The situation is not in your control, but you can manage the things that are in your control.  There is help if you qualify and don’t think you won’t qualify until you thoroughly check it out.  We didn’t think my partner would be eligible for the Self employment grant, but he was and we nearly didn’t bother applying.

Here’s some useful links:

Lisa Turan