Six financial lessons that we shouldn’t forget as stay-at-home orders are lifted.
Has COVID-19 upended your day-to-day life? It certainly upended mine, and caused us to shift the ways we do things at Wealthy Habits. Some of the changes we’ve made have turned out to be good changes, such as adding virtual financial literacy summer camps and programs online, in addition to our in-person camps in Atlanta, which will be limited this year.
It’s probably going way too far to suggest that we all turn these pandemic lemons into lemonade. But for many of us, this major life disruption has given us time and room to reassess some of our not-so-good habits and practices.
Financial habits are a good example.
Six Financial Lessons Learned from COVID-19
- Emergency funds are more important than the “things you think you need.” Most financial experts recommend that you have enough money in an emergency fund to cover three to six months of expenses. For many individuals and families, that feels impossible. In fact, according to the Motley Fool, almost half of Americans don’t have enough money in their emergency savings to get through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.So here’s a reminder we all need to hear again: Funding an emergency account will always be more important than almost every single thing you think you need. Now is the time to take a long, hard look at each purchase and be honest with yourself – Is it a need or a want? If you’re not sure, it’s probably a want.
- Not shopping at the mall for a long period of time is possible. It’s also possible to not shop at big box stores and specialty retailers for long periods of time. Granted, no one wants to see these places go out of business. But if we’re talking about building wealthy habits, spending less time visiting stores, in person or online, will help you avoid impulse purchases on “things you think you need.”
- Be thankful for your employment. Some people love their jobs; for others, their job is just a paycheck. But the widespread and painful job losses that have occurred in the hospitality, health care, travel, retail and restaurant industries during the COVID-19 outbreak should remind us all to be thankful for being employed and to step up and do the best job we can.
- Do whatever you can to make sure your job is more secure by learning and taking initiative, even if a request isn’t “your job.” Flexibility will serve you well at work and in life. If you seek out new challenges, take classes to expand your knowledge and skills, and be willing take on new assignments, your efforts will likely be noticed and rewarded.Flexibility has been essential during the pandemic, and has meant survival for some businesses and continued employment for their teams. I am proud of my team; their flexibility has allowed nine interns the opportunity to join us for the summer.
- Fast falling markets have always come back, so don’t panic. We touched on this one in a blog article a few weeks ago. The most successful investors are those who can withstand fear the longest and keep their focus on the future.I encourage you to go back and read the whole article. If not, here is an important snippet: If you are already invested, take a deep breath, or 10, and remind yourself that prices will rise again as the market returns to normal.
- Free family time is just as, if not more, important than pricey outings (dinners out, trips, etc.). If you have kids, following those stay-at-home orders meant a lot more together time as a family. Soccer games and post-game team dinners were out, as were weekends at the movies or out of town.This was a good thing for most of us as we were forced to figure out how to live together and make our own fun. Yes, we probably spent more on groceries but I promise it wasn’t equivalent to the money that might have been spent eating out. Maybe instead of an expensive night at the ball game we dusted off an old board game and had just as much fun reconnecting. And that kind of fun is much easier on the budget. Don’t let all those activities end as things open up.
It’s been said that it takes as little as 66 days for a new habit to take hold. Most of us have cleared that point in the pandemic, which means these COVID-19 financial lessons have started to be ingrained in our lives. Don’t let them slip away easily.