I can't believe we are almost at the end of this weird and difficult year. If anyone would have told me back in January that starting March (in the Western hemisphere) we would be in various degrees of travel restrictions and lockdowns I would have not believed it. I somehow trusted our society to be better geared to deal with the outbreak of a global pandemic. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Fortunately, we adapted and regained our footing in such a way that in 9 months we have managed to create several vaccines that are going into use already. Fingers crossed for no deadly side-effects.
With or without the vaccine however, the world has changed. For better or worse that will be up to the future historians to decide. But for the time being we are most likely in the eye of the storm when it comes to the world economy. After the shocks generated by the lockdowns over the course of 2020 with entire sectors of the economy shutting-down completely or almost completely, we have seen a few months of calmer winds with European and North American economies trying to open up in a safe way. Only to close down again as the second and third waves hit. I am certain that as more people get vaccinated the economy will slowly re-open to 'a new normal'. But when the waters withdraw, what is left standing?
Will your favorite coffee place or restaurant still re-open its doors? Will the cute waiter or waitress still be serving there? What about that small independent bookstore? Will you still be able to stay at your favorite hotel or AirBnB that you booked every year before the pandemic?
For the people working in those sectors, these months carried considerable stress, not only generated by the sanitary crisis and the fear of getting sick or even worse making your close ones sick, but by the financial crisis they were suddenly thrown into. To be clear, the hospitality, restaurants and entertainment sectors are not high paying areas of the economy, definitely not for the general workforce and they are also not the first choice of people who would have access to high education. This gives a rather large mass of people that are paid (close to) minimum wages and are also at risk of exhibiting bad financial habits like over-spending, not maintaining an emergency saving fund, having bad debts etc.
Since the start of the pandemic and the lockdowns I have heard of people who were desperately trying to find a solution to their money problems so that they can pay their rents/mortgages, put food on the table, cover medical expenses. I have also heard of people who although furloughed or whose employers had to close doors permanently were in a stable financial situation (not well-off, rich individuals!) and could focus on finding a new job or a hobby they can monetize and ride it out. The latter were the people who had some sort of financial education and had in place some plans to help them weather the storm. What do I mean exactly?
- Emergency savings covering a few months of expenses;
- Limited or no credit card debt;
- Good knowledge of their expenses and what can be reduced in the short-term;
- Financial discipline
As we move through the eye of the storm and back into it over the course of the next year my aim is to help you along the journey of financial discipline. That can mean either helping you get started by giving you a point of entry to this large and daunting universe of notions, literature, podcasts, videos, or by sharing with you different perspectives on topics you already know about and apply in every day life.
If you're ready, let's get started.
The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Nothing herein shall be construed to be financial, legal or tax advice. The content of this article reflects solely the opinions and beliefs of the author, who is not a licensed financial advisor or registered investment advisor. The author strongly recommends that you perform your own independent research and/or speak with a qualified professional before making any financial decisions.