If you would have told me that I’d be having to self-quarantine for the next couple of months because of the coronavirus, which would force me to revisit my approach to saving and spending, I would have told you to lay off the sci-fi binges on Netflix and drink some more water.
But this is not a bad episode of Black Mirror. This is real life.
Here’s how I’ve had to respond emotionally and financially during such a crazy time:
I’ve Had To Remind Myself That This Is Temporary
Back in 2016, when I was having a breakdown, I went to therapy and received some of the best advice that serves me to this day when I’m in murky terrain and reluctant to make a decision. My therapist told me that whatever I lose — perceived or real — can usually be replaced. This was one of the most comforting yet empowering beliefs to adopt. It means that you can exhale knowing that you have what it takes to find a new job, rebuild a savings account, make new platonic or romantic connections, and/or pivot in business.
I’ve Had To Rethink The Amount Of Money I Put Away In My Emergency Fund
Most conventional advice says that you should aim to put away at least three months of living expenses. I’ve always been on the more conservative side when it came to doling out advice for how much to stash away, so I’ve always thought that number was too low. Now that the economy is contracting and causing massive layoffs across the globe, I’m convinced that everyone should strive to save at least six months of living expenses.
I also have a caveat with this rule: make sure that this is an accurate number based on your actual money moves; not how you think you’ll change when the money is low. In my experience of living off my emergency fund, I’ve found that my spending habits didn’t adjust that quickly to losing a stream of income. That is, I still wanted to enjoy eating out or getting the occasional facial — and I often did and felt guilty for it. Moving forward, I’ll be more honest about how I want to live when I’m unemployed so I can indulge in a frugal luxury here or there without eating away at my savings.
I’ve Had To Reconnect With My Most Important Goals
I think one of the reasons the coronavirus has so many people in their feelings is because they feel a loss of control. I think it’s also a reminder about their mortality. For me, the coronavirus reminded me that I’ve taken time for granted and allowed myself to be distracted from my core goals and purpose. After a conversation with a girlfriend, I was inspired to eliminate several passion projects from my plate because I realized that life is so uncertain and I was overcommitted, not allowing myself any time for fun, rest, pursuing my real interests, or connect with friends and family.
The coronavirus has created a scare for many, including myself. But it has also forced me to slow down and rethink so many things, which will ultimately prepare me for a more meaningful and focused life once this pandemic recedes.
Check out the video below for more insight and inspiration: