For most people, the past few months have been unprecedented. Whether it’s finding out how secure your financial position is in this crisis, or understanding what’s really important to you, or looking for new opportunities at an otherwise bleak time, it’s been a period of discovery. For me, this period has reiterated some money lessons that I have learned and that I have personally tried to follow over the years. If anything, this crisis has confirmed to me that the path to financial wellness, indeed overall wellness, is to successfully practice these lessons.
Here are 8 important money lessons during the pandemic
Separate the must-haves from the nice ones
We long to earn more because we want to fulfill our wishes. That is the main motivating factor for greater success. Over the years, we use this motivation to increase our income and to be able to enjoy these material pleasures. But the last few months have deprived most of us of access to many products and services. It has also taught us what we can live with and what we can live without. In some way, it has helped us draw clear lines between our needs (must-haves) and wants (nice to have). A regular and disciplined personal budget, if followed, can help one both to segregate financially and to be mentally prepared for such eventualities.
Income protection is more crucial than wealth enhancement
Good times encourage us to take more risks. While that’s not bad in and of itself, it can be detrimental in the event that proper protective measures are not taken to deal with a sudden turn of the tide. It’s okay to have an appetite for risk and to invest aggressively in well-chosen stocks for your long-term goals, but in a recession like the recent one, are you forced to turn to them? Not being prepared for emergencies like the loss of a job or, God forbid, a medical emergency or the loss of a source of income can grossly bring the futility of having a good long-term investment portfolio without adequate protection against risks. .
The troika of adequate contingency funds, life insurance, and medical coverage is an absolute must before embarking on your investment journey. Having a proper safety net allows even the most confident risk takers to take their risks with a sense of security.
Debt can kill in bad times
Recent years have seen a considerable increase in wasteful consumer behavior, driven by easier access to cheaper credit, as well as a significant explosion in the availability of goods and services that satisfy our wants. This crisis has taught people how dangerous debt can be, especially when one’s source of income is no longer secure. Sometimes it is necessary, even useful, to use debt. That said, it is important for every income generator to remember that their desire to borrow must be contained by the amount and certainty of future earnings, as well as adequately supported by existing alternative assets.
Plan more important than portfolio
Crises generate volatility in the markets and even the worst drops. At such times, someone not having a clear understanding of what to do can be very disconcerting. What to do stems from the purpose of these investments in the first place. Having goals assigned to your investments has the effect of mentally stabilizing you by making you focus on the long term. Investing in a goal-based plan helps give you the confidence and courage to back down in the short term. Goals need to be reviewed and corrected periodically to know that you are on your way to your destination.
Investments fluctuate. So, re-calibrate and relax
Plan implementation is equally important, on well-chosen underlying assets and products, as well as adequate diversification across asset classes to benefit from ups and downs. Your investment portfolio must be well calibrated in terms of quality, tailored to your objectives, your horizons and your appetite for risk. In the long term, regular re-calibration will ensure aberrations are gone and what you will get is a picture of your wealth steadily growing to meet your goals.
Your personal growth finances your future income streams
An important aspect is also being professionally prepared for an event like this. I have seen many people affected by steep pay cuts, including unpaid work, as well as job losses. This will be a way of life in the future, and you owe it to yourself and your family to ensure that you protect your future income streams through the right investments in the right skill sets.
Health is wealth
This crisis highlights something that we otherwise prioritize for various reasons: work, family, laziness. Our health. Until the age of 40, he was the typical executive, working hard, but otherwise sedentary. A chronic back disease forced me to take better care of my health. I started running about 8 years ago and now it’s part of who I am, healthier than 10 years ago!
I’m not advocating running here for everyone, but just as we talked about investing in yourself professionally, doing it for physical and mental health proactively is just as important and a key cog in your personal wealth-building machine.
Enjoy the ride while it lasts
At the end of the day, creating wealth is a journey. You may have gotten all of the above right, but you could still do something wrong: roll the dice. Almost three-quarters of a million people in the world and some fifty thousand in India have already passed away from a completely new disease, something that none of these people ever imagined while ringing in 2020. It can happen to anyone. So, as you continue to cross the ‘T’s and dot the’ I’s in your personal and professional life, stop to take a deep breath and look around, and enjoy the sights and sounds. Just focusing on your destination can be hugely anticlimactic.
This quote from comedian and author Douglas Adams says all there is to be said: “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” Ultimately, what this crisis teaches you is how to set your priorities right. In case your priorities are still not correct, use this crisis to learn and correct.