In March of 2020, a shock hit the entire world.
Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has turned the entire world upside down, locking people indoors and sending them scrambling for work as stores close, businesses shut down, sports virtually stop and most group activities come to a halt.
Everyone is doing their best to adjust to this airborne pandemic.
In most places, schools are done for the year. Professionals are working from home instead of commuting into an office. And, unemployment claims have skyrocketed.
The U.S. government passed a stimulus package to send trillions of dollars back into the economy.
For some, things are only getting worse. But for others, it’s business as usual – in fact, even a chance for improvement. And for some businesses like Amazon and UPS, business has never been better.
I spoke to several professionals from a wide variety of industries to find out exactly how the pandemic is affecting them and what changes they’ve made to combat this new “temporary normal”.
The answers are as unique as they are interesting.
How These 9 People Are Adjusting To The Coronavirus Pandemic
Josh is a 33-year-old high school educator and his wife has been exposed to COVID-19
“In 2016, it was my car’s engine and the washing machine going belly-up in March that set us back a few thousand. Fast-forward to 2019, and my dog decided eating half a pound of cocoa powder would be a good idea two days after my 32nd birthday.”
Then in 2020, right after Josh and his wife paid off their student loans, the pandemic hit. And his wife, who works as a physical therapist on the frontlines at a hospital, was exposed to the virus in late March after treating an infected patient.
For whatever reason, March just tends to be a tough month for Josh and his wife.
“My wife was exposed unprotected to a patient who was coughing and tested positive for COVID-19 just five days later.”
And, the CDC has instructed healthcare professionals to continue working, even after being exposed to the virus, unless symptoms begin to develop.
To say the pandemic has been challenging for Josh and his wife would be an understatement.
He told me that he wasn’t truly prepared for the pandemic (nobody was), and especially for what his wife would be forced to endure as a healthcare professional. Every cough or sneeze was scary.
“Financially we were OK – we had a nice-sized emergency fund, stable jobs (which is a blessing in itself), some solid side hustles, and we had successfully paid off six-figures in student loans, which allowed us to be financially stress-free.”
But, having a spouse working on the frontline of a killer airborne pandemic is nothing short of terrifying.
Josh says that sticking to their core principles and healthy habits is how they are getting through.
- daily laundry to keep clothes clean
- regular daily exercise
- taking vitamins
- staying positive
Instead of binge-watching television or being glued to the ultra-negative 24-hour news cycle, Josh and his wife are reconnecting with old friends over the Internet and distancing the best they can.
Sanjana is a 34-year-old anesthesiologist
As a doctor, she’s seen it all. Sanjana’s colleagues are getting sick. Some are even dying, and she’s afraid that she might be next.
Stuck at home, it’s a strikingly different world for Sanjana. “After losing a week’s worth of sleep at the beginning of this quarantine period, I’ve been forced to cope in other ways,” she said.
For example, she’s learned crucial stress relief strategies that she can do right at home – habits she’s building that will stay with her long after the pandemic passes and we’re all back to normal.
- limiting her time on social media
- regular exercise in her home gym
- strengthening relationships with friends, and
- weekly FaceTime meetings with friends across the country
And, her spending habits have also taken a drastic shift.
In the past month, “I’ve saved an extra $500 by staying home,” she told me, and will save another $600 over the course of the year by using her home gym instead of paying monthly gym fees at a more traditional commercial fitness center.
Brian is a 50-year-old project manager
Brian is a New York-based husband and a dad, blogger and technology professional, and his top priority as the virus began to spread throughout the country was his family.
Their daughter was working a hard-to-get internship at Disney World, and they immediately brought her home – devastated.
Their son’s high school was canceled for the rest of the year.
But now, everyone’s safe.
“The entire family keeps asking my opinion on things, like when will our world get back to normal. I just don’t know,” Brian said.
“I do remind my family that the world as a whole is being affected, so we’re not in this alone.”
Brian works in technology for a large hospital. He started working from home two weeks ago, but all of his normal projects were instantly put on hold.
“A slew of virus-related plans took top priority,” he said. “We have worked with the State and FEMA to get several testing, field hospitals, and additional hospital beds up and running over the past week.”
Brian’s community has been nothing short of amazing, especially in response to the affect the virus has had on our healthcare workers. “When you couple record-high patient counts, with the dwindling workforce, it takes a toll.”
His family is taking more walks with their dogs, catching up on reading and enjoying more of their favorite TV shows. “Having this additional downtime has allowed time to update our google sheets budget with different scenarios”, he said.
“I just wish it wasn’t under these circumstances.”
Maggie is a 27-year-old writer
Maggie, an actor, began her quarantine on March 13th, and living at home with at-risk parents, she’s left the house just three times since that time, usually to pick up groceries for them. The going isn’t easy.
“My entire relationship with shopping has been altered and will likely remain fractured for the rest of my life,” Maggie said. Once a lover of perusing stores and getting out, leaving the home now feels akin to going to war. It feels like a huge risk.
“I dress in clothes that cover my skin, put on rubber gloves, a face mask, and wear my glasses instead of my contacts. I wipe down every item brought into the house and quarantine dry goods for several days before they’re brought inside. Going to the grocery store is an anxiety inducing experience now.”
Every time she leaves, Maggie wonders if she’ll inadvertently bring the airborne killer known as COVID-19 into her parent’s home. It’s a heavy burden, and it’s always there.
Maggie is an actor, and her entire industry is in turmoil. Film sets like the one she worked on is shuttered. Union actors like her are scrambling for alternatives.
“Until the government changed the unemployment policies, I didn’t qualify for anything. Even still, the state of Virginia has only given me $51 since I was laid off.”
Instead of lamenting her luck, she turned her sights to other ways to make money. Maggie now writes at Your Money Geek, an influential website covering entertainment, gaming and personal finance.
“I am fortunate,” she told me. “We’re living through a historical event, we’re living through a crisis, we’re living through trauma. And it’s okay to accept it. It’s okay to cry at the grocery store. It’s okay to Skype with friends for six hours. It’s okay to feel.”
Kevin is a 26-year-old marketer
Like so many others, the pandemic has forced Kevin to take a hard look at his finances and re-evaluate where he’s spending his money. Kevin has not lost his job, so he’s in a good position to switch up his financial life with cash flow still coming in.
And, he’s doing that in two primary ways.
He’s saving more. “Before the pandemic, I was saving anywhere from 20-30% of my salary,” Kevin told me. “Now, I am aiming to save over 30%, mainly because I am naturally spending less since I’m stuck inside all day (and not traveling or eating out as much).”
Kevin said that he builds wealth by investing as much as he can while the market is down, and now’s the perfect opportunity to put that increase in savings to good use.
He’s also being more generous. He tips more whenever he eats out, which he cut back from two or three times a week to just once, and always just take-out. “To make up for that and show support where I can, I am tipping above my normal 20%, usually anywhere between 25-40%. It’s small, but I think small acts like this can start to add up,” he said.
Kevin’s net worth dropped by 25% over the last several weeks, but luckily, he has an emergency fund with 6-months of living expenses.
Sam is a 25-year-old freelancer
Sam’s attitude is impressive: challenging times can make you a stronger person and remind you of what’s truly important.
“I am fortunate to have two jobs where you work alone as a blogger and freelancer that have been relatively stable during this time,” she told me. But, Sam’s husband John wasn’t so fortunate. Labeled an “essential worker”, he’s still required to work in an office even during the quarantine.
The quarantine has made both Sam and John more grateful for the things they have and what normal used to be. Before the pandemic, it was easy to take things for granted, like seeing friends, shopping and working in a safe environment. Just being outside.
“Simple things like where to get quarters or leaving the house for groceries all pose a threat now.” It’s tough to do much of anything without worry about whether the virus will be on the things you touch, or if the person next to you will infect you.
It’s a whole different world, and it’s scary.
“It has made us reconsider how much we have in our emergency fund. We plan to add an additional $15,000 to it within the next couple of months to give us peace of mind.”
Daniella is a 30-year-old software engineer
As a software engineer, Daniella is accustomed to working from home. Though nothing has fundamentally changed for her, a lot has changed for the company that she works for.
“Most of the global offices for the company I work for have closed completely with almost everyone on VPN. At first, it was a nightmare trying to stay on their network but the network team pulled things together so quickly, it was pretty astounding.”
Daniella told me that her coworkers are on edge as the company continues to push deadlines and ramp up projects with a staff that may not be as comfortable working from home as Daniella.
Daniella’s wife is a network administrator, and that’s a job that is incredibly tough to do remotely. As a result, she’s forced into work every day. She loves the job, but hates the uncomfortable vibes that she gets working around other people in the office.
“As folks like me are working from home, we forget about the other half who have to go into work everyday and deal with a whole different side to this new world brought on by Covid-19.”
For extra money, Daniella and her wife maintain side hustles, including selling on eBay. In fact, they just sold a guitar on eBay for $1,800 this weekend, and a little extra cash comes in handy right now.
Todd is a 32-year-old marketer
Todd is in a fortunate place. For three years prior to the COVID outbreak, he was already earning money from home as a marketer for a start up business.
As a result, the pandemic did not substantially change his daily workday because Todd was already adjusted to working from home.
But now, he’s no longer working alone from home.
His fiancé is working from home as well, making it a bit challenging in a small apartment to keep out of each other’s areas. Todd told me that maintaining separate spaces is critical to keeping a productive work environment for both of them.
His fiancé works from the bedroom to take calls behind a closed door and he is between the kitchen and the living room.
Todd is also investing more wisely now that stocks are down and market uncertainty is at record highs. “I pulled back on more aggressive investing,” he said.
“I want to stay with consistent retirement investments and use more cash for my savings account,” he continued. “While I already have about 12 months worth saved, both our jobs could change in an instant. We’ve been fortunate to both have jobs at this point, but I’d rather us be overly prepared.”
Scarlett Rose is a pro cosplayer
In January, Scarlett’s entire year as a costume player was lined up and ready to go. She was to appear at big conventions and photo shoots, travel all over the world and take on new acting roles.
Now, her entire year has been put on hold.
Her day job is in Sales and Marketing for a large hotel, which felt a huge impact after the virus’s outbreak, too. “I watched helplessly as we lost over 95% of our business at the hotel in the span of 48 hours,” Scarlett told me.
“Not even a week later, I was furloughed from my job until an indefinite date, and the entire hospitality industry was practically shut down.”
Instantly, Scarlett had no real cash flow.
Like Maggie, she began writing for Your Money Geek, completing her first article about the 19 most addicting games of all time. Initially, writing was a way to bring in some additional cash, but it wasn’t long before her entire life changed.
She liked being a writer.
“I went from completely panicked and devastated with losing 90%+ of my income, to having some hope that things might be okay.” In fact, she’s considering switching industries.
Writing, after all, can easily be done remotely.
“Writing legitimately saved me from what felt like a completely helpless situation. I found that if I work hard, and I am dedicated, that I can thrive.”