COVID and Your Finances

This pandemic has affected nearly everything. It has changed the way we interact, the way we work. Maybe it has changed the way you see the world. No longer such a safe place, it has taken on a scary demeanor. For me, it has made everything feel almost surreal. It is shaky, and fuzzy around the edges in some ways. In others, it is hard edged and razor sharp.

I am a nurse. I have seen some of its effects firsthand. It isn’t your run-of-the-mill flu. It presents in many different ways and causes unexpected complications. I have been lucky so far, in that my hospital did not get overrun. Our company put in effective measures to make sure we had what we needed to care for the sick. We have met the demand, and for that I am grateful. It is still worrisome to go home at night, though, hoping I am not carrying something deadly to my family.

In my everyday life, I feel like my little household lives in a bubble, where we can see and hear the outside world, but not touch it. I haven’t seen my friends or other family in months. I try not to go out much. Going to the grocery store can feel sinister and scary. The idea of a crowd is terrifying.

I wish I could say I haven’t been spending as much money, but that isn’t really the case. Most of my bills are unchanged, and I find that sometimes I want to buy things online just because I can. This is a dangerous financial habit. I justify it by saying I shouldn’t be going to stores, and I still need things, or deserve something for the stress relief. Retail therapy, as they say. Not a good coping skill, and one I hope you all are avoiding. I haven’t gone crazy, but I do need to keep an eye on my spending, because it is just so easy to do. Mostly, I have been indulging in way too much takeout, though, as I have not been feeling very motivated to get groceries and cook. This is terrible both for my wallet and my waistline.

Tragedy still strikes during pandemics as well, and my extended family has had a doozy of one. I have provided financial help, as I can, in light of there being nothing else that can be done to make it any better. If money could fix it, I would give every dime I had.

Needless to say, my financial goals have been put on hold. I have taken on more of a conservative, hunker down type of financial stance. I am loath to part with any savings beyond what I must, because I have this looming feeling of dread that I might need it. What if I lose my job, or my spouse loses hers? Or something happens to one of us? Or, or, or…

The new COVID financial reality calls for a different approach. Where normally I would say one should aggressively pay down debt, right now I would advise against that. I would also not be investing heavily, as the stock market has been as volatile as current events. Personally, I have decreased the amount I invest temporarily, in order to put more into savings. I know actual financial advisors always tell you to avoid changing your investing habits, but I feel it is the best way for me to feel prepared. It is frustrating to not see any progress on my goals, but it gives me a sense of security that I really need right now. I am not buying anything big. I question every purchase. I don’t think that will change until the world feels more stable. My goals will still be there when I am ready.

I know I am lucky, because I still have my income and my home. I wish everyone had the same, as well as their health, and their loved ones.

As much as I love finance, with the world the way it is, I just want to say to you all, Take Care and Hold On. We are all in this together.

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