How will Coronavirus impact your finances, student loans, 401k, and travel plans?

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Hey everyone.

I’m sure you all have heard about what’s happening in the world currently with Coronavirus.

I have gone back and forth on whether or not to create this blog post, and have actually deleted it a few times.

But, I have received many emails, messages, and comments from many readers about how to handle everything. While I am definitely not an expert, I do want to help guide people to helpful resources.

I am not writing this to scare anyone – instead, I want to be helpful and provide educational resources on topics that may be impacting you right now.

Below, I am going to separate common questions I’ve heard and a good resource that I recommend reading to go along with it. Nothing in this blog post is an affiliate link or advertising – these are all simply resources that I think are helpful.

 

What should I be doing right now?

Many of you may be wondering what you should be doing with your time. Here are some ideas:

Stop browsing Facebook all day long. I have heard from countless people that they are just on Facebook and Instagram all day long, looking, engaging, and reading about Coronavirus.

Read about the facts. Facebook is not a good source of factual information. I recommend reading the World Health Organization’s (WHO) and the CDC‘s information on the topic to stay informed.

Find ways to diversify your income. I am a big believer in having more than one stream of income, and the events happening around the world right now prove this to be even more true. Having different forms of income can help you to not be as reliant on any one source, just in case anything were to happen.

Improve your skills. Some of you may have a lot more free time. If that is the case, I recommend using this new free time to improve your skills, learn new things, and more. A fun article I came across the other day is 24 Free Online Ivy League Courses You Can Sign Up for Today (Regardless of Your GPA) that go over computer science, environmental studies, business and finance, Health Policy, Entrepreneurship, economics, marketing, and more. These are free courses from Harvard, Columbia University, Cornell, Yale, and University of Pennsylvania.

Build your emergency fund. If you are able to, this is the perfect time to build your emergency fund if you haven’t yet. An emergency fund can help you if you lose your job or your hours are cut, for medical bills, and more. Emergency funds are always good to have because they can give you peace of mind if anything costly were to happen in your life. Instead of building onto your stress because of whatever has happened, at least you know you can afford to pay your bills and worry about more important things.

Wash your hands. Just do it.

 

How will this impact my personal finance situation?

A lot of really valuable information has been published the last few days. Instead of repeating the same content, I want to direct you to them. Here’s what I recommend checking out:

5 Essential Money Moves to Make During a Downturn – This is a free webinar on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020. This is a REAL webinar – one that will be helpful and Chelsea Brennan will be answering your questions. She is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and will be answering questions like: “Are we headed into a recession?” “What should I be doing with my retirement funds?” “How can I handle having my kids home with me for 2 weeks and potential lost income?”

The Benefits of a Bear Market by The Retirement Manifesto – Are you worried about the stock market? Here is a great article all about the “ride” we are currently on.

PrepperFI in the Face of COVID-19 by Tread Lightly Retire Early – Here’s a quick snapshot from this article: “While we are no means Doomsday Preppers type folks, we are more prepared than the average family, for a myriad of reasons. We have a large garden. We go hiking and backpacking often. My husband brews his own beer, and, as a former United States Marine, knows his way around guns and is set up to begin doing his own reloading, and he practices archery in our backyard. I’ve done quite a bit of canning and pickling (and a bit of fermenting) and bake and cook quite a bit from scratch these days. I was a park ranger for 6.5 years and know many of the edible and medicinal plants that grown in our region. So, while these hobbies and interests of ours don’t spring from a concern with preparedness, they fit in well. Our non-monetary emergency fund supports this as well.”

How will the coronavirus affect your personal finances? by Get Rich Slowly – This blog post talks about the impact on small businesses, the personal finances, and the long run.

What to Do if You’re Freaking Out About Your 401(k) Right Now by Melanie Lockert – This is another great read if you have a retirement account or other investments, or if you are thinking about it as well.

How to Prepare Financially for the Coronavirus – If you’re looking for a podcast to listen to on the subject, here is a great one.

197 Emergency Financial Assistance Resources (National & by Major City) – The organizations listed in this article help with emergencies related to housing, utilities, medical, natural disasters, and more.

 

How are my student loans being impacted?

For up to date information on student loans, I highly recommend heading over to Student Loan Planner’s article What Does the Trump Student Loan Interest Waiver Mean?

On March 13th, 2020, Trump announced that he would be waiving student loan interest on student loans held by the U.S. government.

But, there is more that goes into this. In the article mentioned, you will learn:

  • Are student loans still due?
  • What student loans are not included?
  • How long will this take to implement?

 

What if I have a trip planned?

Should I Cancel My Trip Because of The Coronavirus?

If you have travel planned in 2020, this is a good article to read from Club Thrifty. Greg talks about if you should cancel your trip that is planned for this month, next month, and for trips later in the year.

 

What are some tips for working from home?

Many people around the world are required to work from home for the next several weeks to even over a month. So, we have a lot of new people who are working from home.

I have heard a lot of questions about tips for working from home.

I know several people who have tried working from home only to find that they have a hard time getting anything done. While I’m not one of those people (I LOVE working from home), I know there are certain things that may hold you back if you’re not careful.

Here are my tips for working from home:

  • Stick to a work schedule. I recommend creating some sort of work schedule. Even if you can have the most flexible schedule in the world, it’s usually wise to still have somewhat of a work schedule. This way you can mentally get into the “work zone” each day and have fewer distractions. This may mean setting a starting and ending time, lunch break time, and so on.
  • Have a dedicated work area. Similar to sticking to a work schedule, having a dedicated work area can help you work better due to the fact that you will be in a spot in your home that is used just for work. This can help you separate work and life, be more organized, and get in the zone each day.
  • Exercise regularly. When working from home, it can be quite easy to sit in one spot all day long. Unlike with going to work where you may have to walk into work, walk to someone’s desk, and so on, you may find yourself getting a lot less movement in your day when you work from home. By exercising regularly, you can stay healthy, refresh yourself, and clear your mind.
  • Cut out distractions. While social media and TV may be great at times, you have to be careful so that it’s not impacting your work in a negative way. Working from home means that no one is watching over your shoulder, which may lead to you being more distracted. Due to this, it’s always a good idea to cut out things such as social media, TV, and so on while you are working so that you can be more efficient with your time.

I’d love to hear from you- are you working from home?

 

What online jobs are there?

One thing that I have seen over and over again is more people looking for online jobs, so that they can work from home right now and in the future once this is all over.

Some helpful articles that I recommend reading include:

 

What are you doing, Michelle?

At the time of this writing (Sunday night), Puerto Rico is now on a “lockdown” as well. There is a mandatory curfew, and non-essential businesses are closed.

Because we live on a boat, we are naturally very good at social distancing. We don’t know very many people where we currently are, and are good at not having contact with anyone for a long time.

For us, things are kind of in limbo. I have heard many first-hand stories of sailors who have sailed to a new country in the past few days and didn’t have internet service due to a long passage, and were unaware of what has been happening in the world. Then, they were met with a mandatory quarantine or were turned away. This is something that we do not want to happen to us.

While on a boat, you almost always have a lot of provisions (most sailors we know have around 3-6 months of provisions on hand due to it being difficult to find groceries or it being a long trek without a car and on a small island (that probably doesn’t even have a grocery store). Due to that, we are good with food, water (and we can make our own water on our boat too), and fuel.

But, we don’t want to be stuck in transit, not being allowed to enter a country/island. With dogs, we need to be able to get on land so that we can walk them.

Due to all of this, for now, we are staying put where we currently are, which is in Puerto Rico.

I have plenty of work that I can catch up on, and there’s always something on the boat that needs work as well.

 

Questions for my readers:

  • Do you want to see content in the foreseeable future that isn’t directly related to Coronavirus? Or, is that insensitive to what is happening in the world? I’ve heard both sides recently.
  • How are you being impacted?

If you’d like to chat, please comment below. I’m here for you!

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