The coronavirus pandemic has put all our short-term needs front and center. For most of us, we’ve encountered new challenges like virtual work meetings, online student learning, and drastic changes to our everyday.
As the country reopens (more for some and less for others), it’s worth taking a few moments to broaden our perspective beyond immediate concerns. As hard as this experience has been, social distancing has probably changed the way you live, work, spend, and communicate in a few positive ways as well. Some of the habits you’ve developed over the last couple of months might be worth bringing with you once we’re all out in the wider world again.
- Change how you work. Your first few virtual conference calls were probably awkward, with participants struggling to adjust audio/video equipment and talking over each other. Now that we’ve all learned the “language” of video conferencing, those meetings are becoming much more productive. Whether you’re a boss or an employee, explore how remote working arrangements could save time and create a more flexible and personal work routine. Once your company isn’t in crisis mode, integrating more virtual meetings into your communication rhythm might make your workforce feel more connected, especially if you have offices across the country or overseas.
- Change how you eat. Except for the occasional curbside pickup run to support our local restaurants, most of us are eating our meals at home. Working through all those cookbooks has been an educational and entertaining way to pass time in quarantine. It’s also been better for your health, especially if you’re not drifting in and out of the kitchen for snacks all day. Develop a solid menu of at-home meals you can keep in rotation after the pandemic for your family to spend some extra quality time together while eating quality food.
- Change how you budget. Whether you’ve economized just by staying home or made some tough cuts out of necessity, quarantine has probably had a profound impact on how you spend your money. Some folks are setting a monthly budget for the very first time. That’s a habit we hope will continue after this crisis passes.
The single biggest factor in your financial plan is your spending. Social distancing might have made you look at some of your non-essential spending in a different light. Under normal circumstances, were you really using your social club and gym memberships enough to justify the expense? Are there entertainment subscriptions you’re still not really using, even during this lockdown? How much money could you save on food if you keep planning out weekly meals before grocery store runs?
If you have extra cash right now because you’re not filling up your gas tank every other day and popping into coffee shops, we recommend using those funds to top off your emergency savings accounts. You may even want to consider increasing contributions to your retirement and investment accounts while prices are low if you’re financially able.
- Change how you live. We’ve all experienced the coronavirus pandemic in both public and personal ways. Some of us can’t wait to jump right back into our old routines and add in a few positive habits we’ve picked up during quarantine.
- Has working from homemade you realize that you want to keep working from home — in a new job or as your own boss?
- Has staying at home caused you think about all those unrealized vacation dreams?
- Has video chatting with friends and family scattered across the country caused you to consider relocating?
- Has the change in how you are using your money had you asking yourself, “Am I really using my money to live my best possible life?”
We are all dealing with new experiences and unknowns in the current environment. Use this time to decide if you want to make changes to your life going forward. You may have some new transitions or destinations on your horizon, and now is the best time to start making those plans.