t’s been a miserable few months for some and for others, it’s been downright ugly. Lockdown, working from home, physical distancing, new words like “furlough”, redundancies, loneliness, and worldwide losses on the stockmarket. Most businesses have suffered and some may never recover. But worst of all, there has been death, all around us, with over 30,000 people losing their lives.
I won’t speak too soon but it appears the worst is over, and we might be returning to some sort of normality in the coming months. If anything good were to come out of this, it might be that this crisis has given us the opportunity to reflect and learn some hard lessons. Here are five of the lessons I have learned from the world of financial advice.
1: Have a rainy-day fund. The first and most important lesson I have learned from this crisis is how important it is to have a rainy-day fund available. Rainy day money would mean a sum of money that could keep you and your family going for six months. Our “rainy day” is here and those who have managed to save some money would be extremely thankful for their foresight, especially those who have lost their jobs.
2: Make sure you are adequately insured. No one insures themselves against a pandemic – in fact, I don’t believe such insurance exists for ordinary people. However, this crisis highlights how important it is to be adequately insured. We now know that the world we know can change in a matter of days, and how the rug can be pulled from beneath us with scarcely any warning. Make sure you are insured against mishaps that are out of your control.
3: Some of the things we take for granted are precious. I’ll put the marvelous NHS as number one here. My friends who live in America have been terrified of getting ill because the astronomical cost of healthcare could quite easily cause one to go bankrupt. We have the NHS! What a blessing!
Travel, meeting friends for a meal, going to the pub, hugging the ones you love, visiting family, shopping, going to the gym, taking your health for granted – even going to work. Some of these things have been taken away from us and sadly, in some respects, life may never be the same again. It is fair to say that we are almost spoilt in the Western world. The time has come to appreciate what we have.
4: Stay invested. Some people panicked and transferred their stocks and shares ISAs and pensions to cash as a safe haven during the market downturn. Those who timed it badly would have crystallised losses of up to 25% by moving to cash. When the market rallied sharply – although not quite to previous levels, those who were out of the market could not participate in the spectacular returns that those who stayed in were getting. Lesson learned; if your investments are long term, stay invested.
5: Out of adversity comes opportunity. I’ve seen many people use this crisis as an opportunity to innovate. From the dry cleaner who decided to make facemasks to the gym that decided to go virtual and hold training sessions and classes online. From the tech companies who have made a killing by developing virtual meeting software to the small company that bought up China’s unused PPE equipment and shipped the lot to Africa. I had never heard of Zoom before the crisis, yet everyone has heard of Zoom now. Lesson learned; out of crisis comes opportunity. All it takes is fast fingers on your computer and the ability to think outside the box. Stay safe!