When the pandemic first emerged I put up a video on Facebook encouraging my network to consider investing. I generally discourage timing the market, but in times of crises, it's a unique economic opportunity that doesn't come around that often. It's also very high risk, particularly since the instability can creep into our lives - it would be terrible if you put money into risky investments during risky times and then also lost your job due to those risky times, for example. The last time I struck when the iron was hot for everyone was in 2008 when we had our recession. I rode the recovery. That was foundational when building my nest egg in my 20s. Granted, it could've been the beginning of the end, where lots of sectors were heavily impacted and may never recover. However, I encouraged a diverse investment strategy to mitigate that risk.
Personally we just continued what we were doing: maxing out our 401ks and trying to save up a larger cash cushion. If anything, as things began shutting down, I realized this was going to save a lot of people a lot of money. No more activities or places to go spend that money! No more commutes! We were living our most austere lives - at least for those of us who could work from home (WFH). So, for those who didn't invest, they probably saved a lot of money anyway due to cuts to their lifestyles and no more daycare payments (if that's what they decided to do). It's an opportunity to look at your current life and realize you could've lived this way all along to save money... you just didn't because there were social and cultural expectations you were meeting. Some of those might've even been self-imposed. Now is a chance to look at your lifestyle again and re-design it for the new way of living.
As an introvert, I relished this time. There was no pressure to be social or initiate gatherings anymore. The mental load of being a working mom who organizes the family's social life was removed. No more social life! So lucky. It's October and I have met with a handful of friends and family at a rate of about one person per month of the pandemic. I'd say about 80% of the time we've been socially distanced about it. The best, low-cost social time was to invite a friend or two to a local park, and meet on socially distanced blankets to picnic together and catch up.
We were also lucky in our daycare remaining open. Our kid missed his friends, since most of the families self-isolated, but the daycare was open with pandemic procedures: frequent cleaning, smaller class sizes with the same teachers and same group of kids in each, staggered playground times, and no more food sharing. We went with taking that calculated risk, and also as a way to sustain the daycare through the lean times - we wanted it to still be there after families re-emerged, and we were in a position to continue making tuition payments.
But I'm here to talk about how investing, continuing to save, and cutting socialization costs during this time has turned out for us. Our net worth is up 20% since January. There's a cognitive dissonance that occurs when you're doing well and you know others are struggling. We decided we were "in this together" by donating to the various relief funds around town, eating out more often (to support local restaurants we didn't want to lose), and trying to stay engaged with all the news of politics and unrest. However, "doom scrolling" really got to us and we needed to make sure we did our self-care.
So, I'm spending more time playing. I'm listening to music instead of podcasts or the news. I'm trying to share what I know about money so that during the next crisis (it's just a matter of when and in what form), you might be in a better position than you are today, and more able to weather the storm.