Pandemic, OK what now?
Hey Money Talkers! We are going through some really unprecedented times dealing with the Coronavirus. Some of us are struggling, while others are thriving. Some of us felt a smaaaall ounce of normalcy as we entered the first phases of reopening, and just as quickly some states are halting or even dialing back reopening. If you read my previous blog or listened to the podcast about how to manage money during a pandemic then you should already be trying to get a handle on how to manage your money, mind, and health if you haven’t already. If not, then you might want to check that out now. So this week I just wanted to build on that.
My best advice to anybody during this pandemic is to use this time wisely. We often say “I wish I had the time for ____.” Well your wish has been granted! A lot of businesses are still closed to the public and social distancing is in full effect. So the gift of time has been magically bestowed upon us, especially those of us who have been furloughed or laid off. So I have some tips on how to best utilize this time:
File For Unemployment
I know this sounds like a no brainer, if you are not employed due to the Coronavirus, file for unemployment. Many people are holding off because they don't know how soon they will return to work, or they were working and their job shut back down. DO NOT be one of those people. We do not know how long this situation will last, take all the help you can get. I know that it can be difficult to file. I tried for almost two weeks every day and all day with no luck. The website is super slow and outdated. I would log in and get pushed out and have to start back at square one. Sometimes I couldn't even log in. Other times the website would be “down” for maintenance for several hours, or even days, at a time. Now there is a stupid “virtual waiting room” you have to wait in before you can even log in. But I finally made it through and my request was submitted at the wee hour of 3 o'clock in the morning. So the moral of the story is, do not be discouraged. Keep trying until you get through because you pay taxes and you need assistance; that is what unemployment is for.
Have An Emergency Fund!
You need to have an emergency savings fund! If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that there are emergencies that you will need funds for. Of course, it's difficult to build emergency savings while you're already grappling with this difficult situation. If you've been laid off, you're clearly not in a position to start building cash reserves. On the other hand, if you're still collecting your regular paycheck, or even a reduced paycheck, take this time as an opportunity to pad your savings for the coming weeks or months. COVID-19 has brought on a recession and it is abundantly clear that its economic impact will not be short-lived. We may be feeling the ramifications of this Virus for months and maybe even years to come. We are feeling this economic storm, and we need to prepare. There are still things we can do to better our position in this situation. Also, when you receive any income please refrain from any unnecessary spending and set that in your emergency fund as well. Now is definitely not the time to go crazy online shopping. The best way to protect yourself from the many unknowns that lie ahead is to have a fully loaded emergency fund, because let’s face it, this is an emergency if I have ever seen one.
Make A To-Do List
I know this one sounds stupid too. Most people have to-do lists. I know I have several. Hell, my to-do lists have sub to-do lists. Lol. But for real, create an actual to-do list/goals list that is attainable. Write down everything you’ve been wanting to do or needing to do, no matter how small or large the task. Once you’re done with your list, mark the ones you can do at home. No point right now in booking flights to Paris because … hello, lockdown remember? But you get my point. Writing down your tasks and goals makes them seem easier to attain and more likely to get done.
Create A Routine
If you are like me, you are used to working 40+ hours and having a bubbling social life and your life has been utterly turned upside down due to this pandemic (my whole routine has been thrown out the window, wtf?!) But calm down people, instead of panicking or doing nothing, simply adjust your old plan to fit the current circumstances. You may or may not be going to work still, or even have a job at this point. However, it has been scientifically proven that having a routine is necessary. I know it sounds great to sleep in and Netflix and eat in our PJ’s all day; but that gets old real quick. Developing a daily routine can help us to feel more in control of everything, and help us to make room for all that's important. Routine can aid our mental health. It can help us to cope with change, to form healthy habits, and to reduce our stress levels. So set your alarms for a reasonable time, wake up, have a morning routine (coffee, yoga, breakfast, whatever floats your boat), plan your day out, and then get stuff done.
For those of us that are furloughed or laid off, use your usual “business hours” to be productive: update your resume, reassess your budget, clean your home, clean out your closet, mow the lawn, do yard work, read, educate yourself, the possibilities are endless. Get creative and paint or do arts and crafts. Many people are even taking this time to learn a new skill. Imagine coming out of quarantine speaking a new language, or knitting sweaters, or having vast knowledge about personal finance?! The moral of the story is to stay productive.
Build Your Business
If you are self employed or an independent contractor use this time to market yourself and your business. Make videos and post content on social media. Reach out to clients and just ask them how they are holding up in these trying times, you would be surprised how much they would appreciate and remember your kindness when it’s time to do business again. Also, prepare yourself for the rush of business you will receive when things do finally “go back to normal”. Then when your “business day” is over, metaphorically clock out. Enjoy the rest of your evening and relax. Cook dinner and have a glass of wine, and by all means, please binge watch your favorite shows once you have put in your work for the day.
Reach Out To Loved Ones
I know that you should not be visiting anyone right now, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t call them or facetime them. This is the perfect time to catch up with old friend’s or relative’s you may have lost touch with. There is no excuse to not call your elders and check in on them often. Use this time to get closer with the people who mean the most to you.
I know that I seem all positive and what not. But a pandemic can make even the most optimistic person a little depressed. I know I was feeling down a couple days ago. The trick is to keep busy and stay positive. Idle hands are the devil’s playground. So keep your chin up and make the most of this time that we have been gifted. This too shall pass.
If there are things you wanted to do but never managed to do before, now is the time. Don’t wait for the perfect moment and don’t wait until the little things have gotten so big you can’t ignore them. Tie up all your loose ends. Okay, maybe not all but a lot of them. Tie up as many loose ends as you can whilst you’re in isolation. It’s quite possibly the one single benefit you can get from this virus.
I hope all of this has been helpful. Good luck to you all in these crazy times and stay safe.