Was all this worry about money, pensions, and the distant future worth it, you may be asking yourself?
I sympathise with you. We live in troubled times, and over the last month or so, our focus has shifted radically. In January, we all watched the stock market go up and rejoiced in the Dow Jones reaching all-time highs.
We knew little about the latest virus raising in the East; even is we did know about that, we never thought it would grow so and threaten the very foundation of our civilisation.
So, before I talk to you more about money and life in time of crisis, let me get something straight:
We live in scary times. It is tempting to hide behind the sofa and only occasionally peep out to check how the horror has unfolded.
Even I’m tempted from time to time. Then I remember that fear and hiding behind the sofa has never helped anyone, and I get up, dust myself off and try to do the little I can do to get through this and support others.
Like writing this post, for example. And I’ll continue writing though my focus will shift for the next several weeks from growing wealth to surviving.
Was this worry about money worth it?
You know I believe that being concerned just enough to act is okay.
Worrying about money so much it makes you ill is never the right way to go.
It was okay to pay attention to your finances, but I hope you didn’t stop at being concerned.
I hope you kept a proportion of your wealth liquid, and you have some easy access cash to cushion the blow of this extraordinary situation.
As to the rest, I suggest that you suspend:
- All worry and concerns about pensions;
- Worries about the rapidly dropping value of your investments;
- Regrets that your overseas holiday won’t happen (and you have already paid for it);
- Long term considerations (and I never thought I’d say this – I’m a very planning, long term person).
Your primary focus must be short term at present. In other words:
- Do you have shelter for the next three to five months? (And what help is available to ensure you can keep a roof over your head?)
- Do you have enough food to survive a two weeks long quarantine? (What provisions exist to re-stock?)
- Do you have enough money to last three to five months if you lose your income (or a substantial part of it)?
- Can you help family, close friends and neighbours to survive the next three to five months?
Your longer-term money concerns may have motivated you in the past; such worry about money at present is futile and likely to affect your mental health.
(As a side note, try not to worry about the economy, the stock markets, and any other abstract notion. Be practical and concern yourself only with the simple needs of life – shelter, warmth, food, and humanity.)
How to live through this crisis and come on the other side fighting?
I realise that a lot of what I’m about to tell you will sound like the new age ravings of a spiritually deranged person.
There is no choice. We are in a situation that cannot be changed by anyone of us though we may be able to make it a bit more bearable if we stick together.
Since changing the situation is not very likely, all we can do is to:
- Control the way we react to the situation (or at least do our damn best to exert some level of control);
- Survive the next couple of months (literally); and
- Ensure that we are ready for what comes next.
In follow on posts, I’ll tackle these three points in turn.