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Pattie Lovett-Reid: Financial silver linings amid COVID-19
TORONTO -- We are likely going to mourn our pre-COVID-19 financial life.
Pre-COVID-19 we were financially carefree and driven in part by FOMO -- fear of missing out.
We rushed into the real estate market for fear prices were going to continue to climb and price us out of our dream of homeownership forever.
We looked to social media platforms for influencers to focus us on the next must-haves in everything from design to fitness, with an emphasis on the-more-you-spend-the-better-the-end-product. In many cases it was an unfulfilled promise to a better life. Didn't matter, we bought into the belief anyway.
Financially, life seemed so easy and even carefree prior to the pandemic. Even if meant trying to keep up with the Joneses meant your debt level was as high or higher than theirs.
Interest rates were so low, borrowing to expand your business, or your lifestyle was the norm and not the exception. The debt trap was sustainable until a wildcard hit. In this case, a wildcard in the form of a pandemic. A pandemic that now threatens us on a personal financial level.
Our focus has been on health. As it should be. However, as the virus, we hope, is starting to level out, the shift to economics has to become front and centre as big money decisions have had to be made.
It is clear to me a health crisis is rapidly becoming a deep economic crisis for many.
Families are desperately looking to shore up their balance sheets. For now many financially struggling are being supported by government benefits, but as mass layoffs continue to happen, a natural question is emerging, what is going to happen to us?
A tough but honest question. Canadians are coming to the realization the economic ground has shifted and not in their favour.
We are at an important turning point and we need to confront our brutal financial facts but it is also important to look to a better future. I'm an optimist. I believe we will get through this together but it is going to be a longer journey than we hoped.
I also believe there will be a new norm or a post-COVID- 19 financial life. We will act and do things differently. New innovation will happen, new technology will emerge, especially as we work from home and learn to not only adapt but in some cases embrace it.
As well, in an interesting turn of events, there are financial silver linings emerging:
I get it, it is very tough right now and there is not a lot of clarity. However, sometimes the only way through a difficult situation is to work your way through it slowly, fiercely and one step at time. Believing that small changes and a few silver linings can lead to big results for when better times return. And I do believe they will return.
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- After being in a retail deep freeze for weeks we now clearly see we can get by with a lot less. Spending doesn't bring us happiness. Relationships and life experiences do.
- We have a far better appreciation for what we need and what we want. There is no confusion defining the difference between a "want and "need". Gone are the days of mindless spending.
- Cash is king.
- Having a emergency fund was once consider a luxury. It is now recognized as necessity
- If you have a job you are working hard to keep your job. Nothing is taken for granted in today's employment landscape.
- Saving even just a little is far more satisfying than mindless spending will ever be.
- We are eating out less, doing home repairs more and discovering strengths and passions by way of hobbies we never knew we had.
- We appreciate the need to buy Canadian, buy local and buy quality.
- Health is the new wealth and sustainability from process, product, to personal protection are front and centre.
- Relationships matter. Canadians are making an effort to be social while physical distancing. We need it and we want it. New opportunities to embrace this new norm will emerge.