It goes without saying that the coronavirus crisis has affected many corners of our lives. Financially, the events over the past few months may have instigated a rethink of one’s investments and savings in order to take greater control of finances. For some, this may be refreshing a monthly budget, whilst others may be questioning how to make their savings work harder.

There are a number of ways to start building, or rebuilding, finances for the future. The first of which is to spend wisely.

Lockdown may have cast a light on the areas of our lives where we may be wasteful with money. Unable to spend money on social lives and hobbies be that eating out, retail therapy or gym memberships, many may have found a healthier looking bank balance at the end of each month.

As a result, this so-called ‘spare money’ could be put to good use, contributing to a ‘savings pot’ for a future expensive purchase. Alternatively, these funds could be set aside to protect against any future financial shocks by acting as a cushion. This isn’t to say all social pursuits should be abandoned, but it advocates a move towards more mindful spending.

As mentioned above, the pandemic has brought to the fore just how vital savings are. One rule of thumb is to have a pot of several months’ salary which is in an easy access savings account. This way, should you fall on hard times due to extenuating circumstances you have an instantly accessible buffer to ensure you are able to meet financial obligations.

A helpful tip to get into the habit of saving is to set up a direct debit from a current account to a savings account just after payday. This helps normalise saving as part of a monthly routine, reducing the temptation to spend hastily.

Once you have a sufficient savings buffer, investing money for future goals is also an important part of financial health. Deploying hard-earned savings into stock markets is psychologically challenging at the best of times and having recently witnessed how markets reacted in the first part of this year, it is arguably more challenging than ever.

However, there is no such thing as the perfect time to invest and it will always take a leap of faith as it comes with the risk you may get back less than you put in. Therefore practicing sensible investing behaviours, and having the emotional and financial ability to take some risk, is key.

For those already invested, it is important to refrain from panic selling when markets are volatile and retain focus on your end-goal. As uncomfortable as it might seem at the time, investments of this kind are longer-term, at least five to 10 years and beyond, and there are always peaks and troughs.

The advantages of investing in the long term can only be potentially unlocked if you are prepared to accept shorter term market fluctuations like the one caused by the pandemic earlier this year. This is part and parcel of investing life. By sitting tight and reminding yourself of the bigger picture it becomes easier to ride out more difficult periods. Avoid the temptation of constantly checking on your investments day to day as this could create unnecessary tension.

The risk associated with investing can be reduced by diversifying your portfolio and spreading money across a broad mix of asset classes, industry sectors and geographies. This will help to mitigate the impact of market fluctuations and ensure your investment mix is resilient. This is the best protection against the unknowns of what lies ahead in the markets. By investing in a well-diversified portfolio you are making two implied statements: one that you believe that the centuries of innovation that have gone before are not over and humankind will continue to invent new things. And two, you believe the price to access that future innovation will remain sufficiently attractive.

Of course, as the pandemic has shown, no one can guarantee anything about the future and past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

This year has certainly been challenging for many and when it comes to our finances, exercising healthier spending habits and making more sensible financial decisions may perhaps be valuable lessons to take forward.

Craig Jamieson is regional director at Barclays Wealth Management for Scotland and Northern Ireland