When the fog of this pandemic finally starts to lift, in spite of the devastation and loss, there will be many improvements to our daily lives.
The procrastination that takes place during busier times has been replaced with a resolve to plow through as many dreaded tasks as possible, to “make the most” of the quarantine.
On a small, measurable scale, garages will be cleaned out, closets will be organized, new skills and hobbies will have been explored, to name a few.
For those whose financial states have been radically altered, household budgets have been tightened. For others, even though household income has remained unchanged, there has been time to get organized about spending and investing.
The phone conversations I’ve been having with clients, friends and family reflect this. It has been a busy, productive time as people examine how they have spent their money in the past, and how they might want to in the future. The Emergency Fund has taken on a whole level of significance (as have pantry staples and freezer goods).
This time to slow down and think has given way to a fresh perspective and soul-searching. It might be uncomfortable, but it is encouraging to see people discover what is most important to them; to identify what is necessary versus what is extraneous; to uncover (and hopefully eliminate) unnecessary stresses that we invite into life; and to determine how we want to live on all levels (work, diet, activities, relationships, parenting and socializing).
All of this seems very familiar as our family has had a little practice at crisis management.
Years ago, our son’s illness turned our world upside down. My husband took a leave from teaching to be available for doctor’s appointments and hospital stays. We worked on our business from home and hospital. Keeping our house as germ-free as possible was imperative to our son’s health. We scaled back on unnecessary activities. Everything focused on restoring his health and getting life back to normal. Those suffering alongside us were limited to family and close friends. The experience was isolating, made even more so by our son’s weakened immune system, which kept visits limited and anxiety levels high.
We were fortunate that our son made a full recovery, but things had changed. There was no return to normal because our perspective had been irreparably altered – largely for the better.
It was hard to think of our son’s good health, without remembering the many sick children we met along the way who continued to struggle, or worse. Our empathy for others’ suffering became heightened in a way that can only come from having walked that terrible walk.
Dedicating time and attention to our family unit had always been a top priority, but it was even more so afterwards. We made sure to make memories, and take time to get away when we could. My husband realized that working two full-time jobs was too draining, so he retired from teaching to work on our business full-time. Time away – and time to think – allowed me to see what activities I had been participating in out of habit, not fulfillment. I took the opportunity to resign from anything that took time away from what I truly valued.
Volunteering to help the doctors and hospital receive much-needed funds jumped to the top of extracurricular activities. Prior to our son’s illness, we had talked about getting involved with the hospital. Now we had the kick in the rear to do so.
As for our sons, their extracurricular activities became more concentrated and focused on only a few teams/activities to keep life manageable and not fried and hectic.
To this day, some six years later, family dinners are the norm in our home, even though the kids are now teens with many interests to take them elsewhere.
While all that discomfort, worry and anxiety was awful as we went through it, we were determined to find all the good that could come from it. And we did.
Such is what we will all find in the aftermath of this pandemic.
There have been several projects that we have kept meaning to get to. But without time to pause and think, they had been relegated to the backburner. Our goal to host educational webinars suddenly has taken on a new urgency. Clients and teachers who want to get a better hold of their financial situation are looking for help. They are not rushing around. There are fewer distractions.
Some want to set up their retirement plan, or increase contributions; others want to learn more about budgeting, debt consolidation and mortgage refinancing.
Unable to meet at schools, we’ve made hosting these webinars a priority. The first one will be on Thursday 4/23 at 4 pm EST. The topic is College Planning during a Pandemic. To join us (or to have access to the replay), register here. To learn more about this topic, visit Tony’s blog.
One teacher-client confessed that the webinars are just the motivation she needs to learn more about personal finance, a goal that she had kept putting off. But now, with more quiet time than she’s ever had, she’s been able to make the time to do this.
I told her that we’re happy to help.
We might not need a pandemic to make profound changes in our lives – but we do need quiet time to think, reassess and implement. If we all are determined to make this time as beneficial as possible to the long-term health and fulfillment of our lives, what can’t we accomplish?
We just might end up living our lives with what we value most at the center, not lost in the blurry edges and noise of daily distractions.
Have a topic you’d like us to cover? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.