There is no doubt that Covid has forced us to take a long hard look at how we manage our lives. Suddenly, all the small issues that we had put aside became a lot larger. This is true for all areas of our lives – finance, health, our social life and more.
Covid also taught us a lot about our habits: How over or under reliant we may have been on certain things, be it our family, our partner, a favorite bar, gym, or even the local coffee chain. On a more positive note, now that we have settled in from the shell shock, we are also seeing how resilient and adaptable we can be.
The next stage is learning from all these hard lessons and reorganizing our lives, not only to deal with the “new normal” but also to make our lives even better. In Nassim Taleb’s famous book, Antifragile, he advised the idea of building an anti-fragile life. This means a life that not only survives surprising shocks but also gets better and stronger from them.
In a post-Coronavirus world, we couldn’t agree more.
Lockdown for a lot of people meant severely limiting their movement. Some of whom weren’t staying physically active that much to begin with. We won’t go on about all the research, but the medical community is in unanimous agreement that not moving over the course of a day, especially a day where you are hunched over a computer for most of it, is terrible for your body.
That’s why we believe this is one of the best times to embrace the idea of home exercise. Many have embraced this idea, posting home workouts through different social networks. The best thing about this option is that for most of the exercises, there is no equipment required!
Former gym goers had to learn about this alternative the hard way but have come up with innovations such as using large, filled water bottles in bags as weights as well as other DIY home workout innovations. Another sign of the times is fitness tech startup Peloton gaining a huge amount of traction throughout the pandemic and posting record orders and revenues – another sign of people embracing the idea of working out efficiently at home.
Not too long ago was World Mental Health Day and the ideas that it represents are now more critical than ever as those stuck at home without anybody are more at risk of developing depression-like symptoms. One good thing about the effect of Coronavirus is that mental health is no longer faux-pas to talk about.
Thankfully more than ever, technology has given us many different avenues that allow us to bridge that gap and be together at a distance. Zoom has allowed schools to keep going and stay in contact with older relatives, who often need that social contact most. For some, online video games have provided some much-needed rest and relaxation. While connecting to people from all over the world, and with the current pandemic, we now have more in common than usual.
Finally, it goes without saying that the use of social media has acted as a backbone for many throughout the pandemic. Facebook saw record user activity at a time when most people believed it had reached critical mass. These social media applications have become a key part of our daily lives, for better and perhaps for worse. What is important is that we understand the downsides of too much social media use, and don’t neglect more direct forms of communication.
The lockdown pulled the rug up from many people’s finances. Whether it’s a lack of emergency funds in case of a sudden job loss, or paying excessive amounts for rent relative to one’s income, many learned the hard way how dangerous it is to not be on top of their finances.
Many have been confronted with the reality that they need to tighten their belts financially. Part of this is getting more insight into what’s going in and out of your account. A budget is an indispensable tool for tracking exactly where your money is going. Many avoid budgeting at all costs, either due to the time commitment or because they simply avoid going face-to-face with reality.
That being said, it is never a bad thing to face the facts! A budget opens your eyes and is often the crucial first step to getting your finances under control. Once you understand your spending habits, when stores and businesses open back up, you will be able to make much smarter financial decisions. With a budget you’ll know just how much of your money went towards unnecessary purchases in the past.
Oftentimes the most important budgeting habit to pick up is to ask yourself with every purchase, “Do I really need this?”.
Assets and Debt
There is no doubt that in this kind of circumstance, pretty much everyone would have been better off with an emergency fund. While many may tell themselves that it’s too late now, this is the opposite of the way you should be thinking! Rather, take this pandemic as a lesson why you should have a “rainy-day” emergency fund. You will never see a surprise emergency coming.
As part of getting your financial position in check, you should aggressively get to work on two things: Start to save little by little for that emergency fund and cut out any unnecessary debt ASAP!
Having unnecessary debt can turn an uncomfortable situation into an absolute nightmare, especially in a situation where your regular income is in limbo. Thankfully, technology saves the day again and there are many online debt consolidation options including lending portals and lenders that can help you get on top of your debt. The idea is to make your debt manageable.
Once that emergency fund is taken care of (have we mentioned how important it is?), you can move on to more exciting things such as building an investment portfolio, growing your net worth, and starting a retirement nest egg, which we will get into below.
When it comes to this step, you really transform your financial situation from that of scarcity to that of wealth-building. Think about it. So many are stuck in the rat race working hard for a salary, most of which will go towards paying off debts. Whatever is leftover will likely be spent on a variety of things. By the end of the month, in a good scenario, you are right where you started. In a bad scenario, you are even worse off and in deeper debt!
Once you have taken care of any high interest debt you have and learned to get into the habit of saving for an emergency fund, the next step is saving a portion of your paycheck and putting that money to work for you. While everyone else is grinding and then spending their money, your money will slowly start accumulating, growing while you live, eventually paying dividends and so much more. This is the different between a wealth-building mindset and a poor mindset.
There has never been an easier time to enter the world of investing. Simplicity has never been so abundant in the investing world whether it’s by using applications on your phone, or in investing little amounts in stocks, crowdlending, or high interest accounts. Additionally, there are endless free high-quality resources on the internet to learn about investing.
The Silver Lining
There is no doubt that the Coronavirus damaged many financially and mentally, and for some it may seem impossible to overcome. That being said, we must all look for the positive to take out of every situation, even if it’s only a lesson for your future.
Take this as an opportunity to learn and learn to swim in the deep end. As we said in the beginning of this article, the goal, both individual and collective, is to come out of this pandemic stronger and more resilient.