Wow, this week has been crazy. Unlike anything I’ve seen in my 46 years.
Confession time…when talk of the Coronavirus started up about a month ago, I did not take it too seriously. In all honesty, I should have, because I do have a son that is immune-compromised. I also have a co-worker who is highly immune-compromised. So although I’m still not concerned about myself getting too sick if I were to contract it, I am now concerned that I could make someone around me very sick.
This post is going to stray a bit from my normal personal-finance topics. This is going to be some personal observations and maybe a few tips. That’s the glorious part of having a blog, I can write about what I want. You may be interested, you may not be.
Lessons Learned Thus Far
As I mentioned earlier, I most definitely did not take this serious early enough. I should have been more aware and stocked up A LITTLE on certain items. This past Tuesday evening, I went to my local Target and got my normal 6-roll package of Angel Soft toilet paper (because we needed it), a bottle of hand soap (because we needed it), and some cereal (because it was on sale and we love cereal).
Between then and last night, our city/state has temporarily shut down its colleges, its K-12 schools, and it’s libraries. Our governor recommended that churches not hold services in order to slow the spreading of the virus. The NCAA tournament has been cancelled. The NBA and other sports have cancelled their seasons. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were diagnosed with the Coronavirus. Suddenly a larger part of the US that hadn’t been paying attention to this (like me) went on high alert. Now there are crazy shortages of everything from toilet paper to hand sanitizer to bread, milk, and meat.
I’ll be honest, if the schools had shut down for 3 weeks when my boys were young, I would have been in a real bind. My heart goes out to all the parents that find themselves in this predicament now.
There have been jerk comments on social media saying parents should have had a back up plan and asking what they do on snow days. Well, this isn’t the same scenario. The occasional snow day or two can be handled with grandparents/relatives help, or taking a sick/vacation day. We’ve never encountered a situation where we have 3 weeks of consecutive snow days though. Most people don’t have the option to take 3 weeks off of work, even if they have that much sick/vacation time saved up. Most employers wouldn’t allow an employee to take that much time off unpaid. Even if that was an option, it’s not feasible financially for most people anyway.
My Thoughts On This
Don’t panic and PLEASE don’t hoard all the supplies. We have to work together to ensure everyone has enough food and household supplies to last a few weeks.
This crisis is going to be a testament to the type of people we are surrounded by. There have been stories of police being called to local stores to break up fights over the limited supplies. Also stories of people buying mass quantities to turn around and price gouge their neighbors by re-selling these items. My doctor said patients were stealing their medical masks and they had to lock them up.
Fortunately we’re also hearing of people offering to help others in their neighborhood, whether it’s providing childcare, helping them get groceries, etc. Our local community realized we have a huge number of families who depend on their kids getting breakfast and lunch at school and they’ve come up with a plan to ensure they still do while the schools are closed the next 3 weeks.
Choose to be a good person now. Help out your family, friends, neighbors, and community in whatever way you can. Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly or sick.
Financial Tips To Weather Future Crises
Build up an Emergency Fund: You never know when you might lose some income due to losing your childcare or reduced hours. This should serve as a huge wake-up call on the importance of having an emergency fund. Aim to have one equal to at least a month’s worth of your essential expenses.
Keep a small/decent reserve of essential supplies: Certainly not telling anyone to stockpile or hoard, especially when a crisis is full-blown like now. We may all want to reconsider waiting to buy more toilet paper until you’re on your last roll though. This is especially important advice for medical supplies. I made sure we renewed Michael’s insulin prescription for a 90-day supply.
Don’t look at the Stock Market: Enough said. It’s going to look ugly for a bit but it will come back. Obviously it’s different for everyone and every age level but don’t panic.
Create a Back-up Plan: Especially important if you have kids and might need to figure out childcare arrangements. Also have a conversation with your employer. Is there a way you can work at least part-time from home? Some vocations you can, some you can’t. Maybe you could work flexible hours if a partner or relative or friend could help you out with childcare outside your regular hours?
What Will You Do?
So what will you do? This is a scary time for many people. I would urge everyone to stay calm, and look for opportunities to serve others. Check on your family and neighbors. Spend some extra time with your family. Many community events are being cancelled anyway so look for economical activities to entertain yourself and your family at home. Read books, give the kids a little extra tv/computer time, work a puzzle as a family. Start a blog!!