The quarantine won’t last forever.
Eventually, we will all emerge on the other side of this Coronavirus pandemic and return to our lives as normal. We’ll go back to work (or find new jobs). Attend parties. See our favorite bands in concerts. Dine in restaurants. Watch sports.
In other words, business as usual.
But, there is a good chance that “business as usual” caused much more heartache during the Coronavirus quarantine than you think.
Remember when I wrote this on Twitter last year?
Look, here’s the thing. I know that we aren’t changing anybody’s life on Twitter. Most of us don’t make huge lifestyle changes based on something we read in 140-characters or less.
It just doesn’t happen that way.
But, if we are able to reach a single person – just one, then maybe it’s all worth it. The point here is to take a hard look at the choices you made before the killer airborne virus took the world by storm.
The bull market was a huge money-maker for a lot of us. Jobless claims were at all-time lows as the Dow flirted with 30,000.
But, here’s what sucks: the market doesn’t always go up.
It’s great having a good job and making money, but when we forget about the basic necessities of life – about just being smart with our day-to-day choices, we put ourselves and our families into a weakened position when things aren’t so great.
The fact is this virus was a wake-up call for a lot of us.
If we were living beyond our means when the market was good, we probably felt the other side of that coin full-on during the market collapse. If we failed to save money because we had a good job, then reduced hours or a job loss reminded us that things change, often quite quickly and without notice.
Regardless of how you fared throughout the quarantine, there are three crucial things that you can do to build a much more solid foundation for yourself and your family.
If, God-forbid, this ever happens again, you’ll be better prepared, more driven and insanely confident the next time around.
Do These Three Uber Crucial Things After The Quarantine
Prioritize these three things after the quarantine (or during the quarantine if you’re still gainfully employed). They will instantly better prepare you to endure another market crash (and maybe even another airborne virus).
1: Build A 6+ Month Emergency Fund (aka: Get Your Financial Shit in Order While You Can)
According to a BankRate study last year, almost 30% of U.S. adults had no emergency savings. None. Worse, 25% of those who DO have a “rainy day fund” don’t have enough to cover three months of living expenses.
This is sorta like living in tornado alley with no basement.
That, my friends, is a problem.
Many of us don’t “feel” the problem while employed, especially during a bull market when the thought of losing our jobs seems so distant or unrealistic.
But as we’ve seen, things can change on a dime, and those of us who didn’t save up some extra money while times were great are suffering now when the market is struggling for breath.
Unemployment claims have skyrocketed.
What can we do about this?
Forget the oft-cited “3 to 6 months” living expenses recommendation from most financial advisors. To me, that’s not enough.
The more money that we have saved in a savings account, the longer we’ll be able to withstand unexpected job losses or expenses.
And, the more confident we’ll feel during a quarantine like this.
Save at least 6 months of living expenses in a savings account. Note: resist the temptation to save this money directly in your checking account because that money is too easy to spend.
Don’t rely on your own discipline not to spend it.
Instead, use a savings account to separate that money. It’s still easy to access, but isn’t so easy to tempt you to spend it for a non-emergency (new car, computer upgrade, etc) item.
Also note: this won’t happen overnight. It will take time to save at least six months of living expenses, and that is okay.
The key is to start. The goal is at least six months.
And secondly – warning, it’s shameless plug time. Follow me on Twitter. Daily, I tweet uncommon wisdom about money and mastering the mind game of life.
2: Prioritize Your Health (aka: Stop Sucking At Being Healthy)
The vast majority of us can live healthy lives if we want to. Let’s face it, we can. We can all do things like:
- eat less sodium, carbs, processed junk and fat
- exercise more often (even if it’s just walking)
- consume smaller portions (especially for dinner)
We can. You can. And, you know it, too, don’t you?
It might be easier for some of us than for others, but leading a much more healthy life doesn’t just mean that we’ll live longer. It also means we will look and feel better, enjoy more energy and build stronger and more flexible bodies and immune systems.
In most races, the fact is over 2/3rds of us are overweight.
And, leading a more healthy life by getting more exercise scientifically reduces our risk of heart disease, heart attacks and heart surgeries. When we learn that heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States, it makes prioritizing our health that much more important.
What can we do about this?
Two main things: eat healthier and start exercising and stretching more often. Don’t hesitate to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, and likewise, find a personal trainer if you don’t feel comfortable designing your own fitness or stretching program.
Set a goal to exercise three times a week. I’m a huge believer in resistance training, but cardio is good exercise as well. Anything that gets you moving in a safe way will help you to burn more calories and feel more energetic throughout the day.
If your local gym is closed due to the quarantine, consider bodyweight exercises. For a little help, check out the 42 best bodyweight exercises to get you started. You might be surprised at how much you can do without any gym equipment.
3: Quit Delaying Your “Some day” (aka: Eliminate Reasons To Not Achieve Goals)
How many times have you said, “Yeah, I’ll do that some day“?
Find your “some day”. If your goal is to write a book, start. If you’ve always wanted to build an art collection, begin that. How about learning that foreign language? You guessed it…
The fact is there will always be a reason not to do something. You’re busy. There are other things to do. Not this week. Maybe next month.
Or, next year should give me enough time to do those things.
The problem is next week, month and year will come with their own distractions and responsibilities, and we will once again give ourselves an excuse to hold off until…next week, next month, next year.
What can we do about this?
Start. Choose one thing this month from your list of goals and start. F-ing start. No excuses. No delays. If it’s a goal, then prioritize it.
As they say, shit or get off the pot.
Damnit, just download Duolingo and start your Spanish lessons. Begin writing that first chapter of your book. You get the point.
Because life is too short to keep giving yourself excuses to not do something. Excuses are a dime a dozen. And, they definitely won’t give you something special to look back on when you’re older.
Bonus: Stock Up On Essentials, Get To Know Your Community, Downsize and Ask What If
A few other ideas:
Accumulate some essentials (but don’t hoard!) – things like canned foods, sanitizing wipes, rubbing alcohol, bottled water, etc. Anything that you’d need if you couldn’t get out to the store for weeks at a time. This isn’t about hoarding. It’s about being prepared.
Know your community and neighbors – because if things do get bad and you need to rely on those around you, it’s nice if you know who to go to and who you can rely on the most.
Downsize the unnecessary – a lot of us have way too much stuff, and that stuff eventually becomes distracting clutter. Take this opportunity to ditch things you don’t need or use, and keep it that way after downsizing. That’s important!
Ask yourself, “What if this happens again?” – If there is anything that you wish you had done before the quarantine, do it. It’s unlikely that this will happen again, but be prepared. Be smart.