This COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy and our own personal finances in one way or the other. But on the other hand, it has the potential to make us rethink our values and re-define what we consider needs and wants. Believe it or not, we could all be better people.
If nothing, it will force us to reconsider an old-fashioned idea which is, saving for a rainy day.
Over the past few days, I’ve reached out to many old friends, acquaintances and people I hardly knew before this pandemic. All the busy people I realized were literally sitting by the phone, grateful for any call. I left just one message on an answering machine and my call was answered minutes later as the person was on another call. Also no one was really in a hurry to hang up.
There are many who I realize who have not adjusted to this temporary phase of being largely house bound. It has provided many very busy professionals and businessmen a glimpse into what a retired life could look like and it positively scares them. For the first time, families have been forced to spend weeks together and the phrase, “Familiarity breeds contempt” has never rung so true. Little flaws in our partners and children have magnified.
There are some people who have found great ways to stay productive, develop new interests, hobbies and to educate themselves on subjects they never had the time for before.
I’ve met people who have started meditating, yoga and an exercise regimen to keep their sanity. Others have re-discovered the joy of reading old paperbacks that gathered dust on their bookshelves. Some are catching up on movies, TV shows and documentaries, thanks to so many streaming options, virtually every movie is now available on demand.
But more importantly, people are now realizing the importance of keeping in touch with family and friends.
When this is all over in a few weeks and life goes back to normal, it won’t be the same and we won’t be the same. Many will go back to work reluctantly. Others who have made enough money may question the need to make more money and may want to choose an early retirement over a possible early death due to job-related stress and hyper-tension.
I also think people will generally think twice before they succumb to the urge to keep up with the Singhs or the Scotts next door. Many people are spending sleepless nights worrying about those investments they made in real estate and stocks. Before the pandemic, it wasn’t uncommon for middle-class professionals and very small businessmen to invest in second and third investment properties. They all believed that it would be a great investment, don’t get me wrong, real estate in parts of the country like the GTA will continue to be in demand, but not at the current inflated market rate. It is hard to imagine real estate giving the kind of returns that it once did as a result of speculation and investor demand.
People getting into the market will have to have deeper pockets just in case you have a pandemic strike every ten years. It is a distinct possibility. More people are likely to set aside more money in checking accounts just in case they need the money. Many Canadians were caught off-guard and now find themselves utterly dependent upon the government for their food and shelter and these are people who are either currently employed but furloughed or those who find themselves unemployed. It is humiliating, sobering and humbling for Canadians in this position to realize how bad an idea it was to allow themselves to be a paycheque or two away from financial hardship. And yet there are millions who find themselves staring down the barrel of a gun.