What the pandemic has taught me about life and money

Always have an emergency fund

It’s not only good to have some emergency cash, it is a necessity. How much you will need depends on many factors such as your lifestyle and the number of dependents you have. In general, it is recommended to put away enough money to cover at least three to six months of living expenses. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to be laid off from work and job offers to be rescinded. Navigating this transitory period can be both emotionally and financially challenging. Having an emergency fund helps people to tide over these difficult times without having to get into debt. It can help to reduce stress levels as well!

It’s a good idea to build multiple sources of income

Having multiple sources of income can provide significant flexibility especially during difficult times. When one of your income fails, the other streams of income can provide a buffer while you look for something new. Even during “normal” times, having more than one source of income can help you achieve your financial goals more quickly. However, building steady income streams take time and cannot be accomplished overnight.

A good way is to start building passive income. This is income that is earned from your side hustles or investments, without having you tending to it at all times. Although building a source of passive income takes time and effort, it will grow and yield higher returns over time. Start early!

A crisis can be an opportunity (for investors)

In the months of February and March of 2020, the stock market crashed, with the S&P 500 index plunging by 9.5% in one day. This was the steepest fall since 1987. Many investors seized this opportunity to buy the dip. In just one year since the crash, the S&P 500 index rose by almost 75%. This is one of the fastest recoveries in the history of market crashes.

S&P 500 index during the 2020 stock market crash (Google Finance)

The pandemic also created opportunities for investors in the tech industry as schools and companies were going remote. Since restaurants and physical stores were forced to close in accordance with public health guidelines, there was a huge surge in e-commerce. This led to a marked rise in tech stocks, which gave some momentum to the rapid rebound of the stock market.

The importance of structuring your time

The pandemic has arguably disrupted all of our routines as many of us have switched to remote work. The line between work and home has blurred (or disappeared) and all of a sudden we find ourselves losing track of time.

From wearing sweatpants all day to working in your comfy couch, remote work sure has its perks. For some people, this also means having more time to do the things they enjoy or to spend with their loved ones.

Unfortunately, this could also mean that it is harder to maintain a work-life balance. When we no longer have a designated time and space for work, somehow tasks start to take longer than they use to. According to this study, 42% of teleworkers between the ages of 18 and 49 are having a hard time feeling motivated to do their work. As a result, many people are actually spending more time on work than before. So when we think we have broken free of the 9 to 5 work life, perhaps we find that we are never not working instead.

Allocate a work space for yourself. Find a quiet corner in your home with minimal distractions to set up a conducive work environment. Having a clearly designated work space can significantly improve your focus and help you get work done.

Block out time for work each day. Allocate blocks of time (e.g. 2-3 hours) and breaks in between each block so that you can be as efficient as possible. Aim to complete all of your work by a fixed time each day (e.g. 6p.m.) to keep yourself on top of things.

Use your free time to learn a new skill

Not having to commute to school or work frees up a significant amount of time. Instead of spending that time scrolling away on social media, why not pick up a new hobby, or a new skill? It can be something that you have always wanted to learn but never had the time to. Or it can simply be a new hobby to keep yourself occupied. There are plenty of online resources like Skillshare and Coursera for you to choose from. And your hobby does way more than just keeping you occupied. A study from the American Heart Association shows that engaging in leisure activities can improve your mood and reduce your heart rate.

Health is wealth

The pandemic has pretty much upended our lives. As I was living abroad when the pandemic hit, I had essentially 3 days to pack up all my things and relocate back home. Adjusting was hard and having to work at night (due to time difference) just made things harder.

It can be difficult to take care of yourself when so much is happening around you. All the more, you need to take care of your physical and mental health not in spite of but because of this turbulent situation.

Get a health/life insurance plan

If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it painfully clear that we need to prepare for the unexpected. Even if you are healthy now and rarely see a doctor, it is still crucial for you to get insured. Medical emergencies are not just costly but they can also disrupt your daily life, preventing you from being able to work.

There are many benefits of getting an insurance plan while you are healthy. If you lead an active lifestyle and exercise regularly, you may be able to enjoy lower premiums. For example, Health IQ provides life insurance at a lower rate for swimmers because swimming is associated with a significantly lower risk of premature death from heart disease. With an insurance plan, you can also get regular health exams and preventive services at little or no cost.

Images

Pxhere, Pixabay 1,2

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