We interrupt our 52 Week Finding Freedom series for this PSA to the FIRE Community regarding COVID-19, and what we should REALLY be concerned about.
Ok – by all appearances COVID-19 doesn’t appear to be leaving us anytime soon. In fact, we may very well just be in the early stages of mother nature’s temper tantrum when it comes to this virus.
Like many people, we had to cancel some of our travel plans over spring break.
But it wasn’t the threat of contracting the virus that had us most concerned. It was the implications of cross border travel, the validity (or lack thereof) of our health insurance given the current travel advisories, and the subsequent 14 day quarantine upon our return that really swayed our decision making.
I’m not suggesting that we aren’t taking the virus itself seriously. But I’m not an expert in contagious disease, so in this arena I wholly defer to the information being distributed by actual experts in these fields. And to date, the statistics I have read clearly convey that both myself and my immediate family members fall squarely into a very low risk category.
For starters we are only in our mid-thirties, relatively fit, follow a nutritious diet, hydrate well, and prioritize quality sleep. Practically speaking, our immune systems should be primed to handle everything COVID-19 has to throw at us. And while we have young children, they appear to be at an even lower risk.
We will still try our best not to expose ourselves to unnecessary risks, but the stark reality is, we all stand a pretty good chance of getting it. Fortunately, we stand an even better chance of recovering without issue.
Great sources for up to date information when it comes to how we can best protect ourselves (and each other) can regularly be found at:
So What Am I Saying- Just Get The Virus?
No, of course not. But beyond taking reasonable steps to prevent the spread, that’s probably what’s going to happen for many of us anyways.
Which begs the question, is the virus the real threat here?
Personally, I don’t believe so. The virus will do what viruses do. As a society, we will (hopefully) all do our utmost to prevent the unnecessary transmission of the disease. Particularly to those most vulnerable. But inevitably, and very sadly, some people will succumb to this virus.
The larger scale, and much longer lasting impacts, are the ones we should be really concerned about.
Few will be immune from the very large scale economic impacts that are already being felt, and will continue to ripple through our society for the months to come. If not years.
But for the many people who already face financial strain, or those who live pay-check to pay-check, the effects may very well be devastating.
Time To Step Up
For anyone who is part of the FIRE community, whether newly converted, or a long standing member who has already achieved FIRE/Financial Freedom, odds are very high that your financial situation is substantially better than the majority of people.
You have likely diversified yourself so that you aren’t reliant on a single income stream. It’s even more likely you have some form of emergency fund. You will be able to weather the financial storm that is upon us.
In fact, odds are extremely high that given the recent actions of the stock market, you will be positioned financially to actually BENEFIT from this global crises. If you are taking a long term investing approach.
We certainly will be. And while we will no doubt continue to take advantage of the mass sale currently underway in the global market, we also need to divert our attention else where.
If you, like us, are well positioned to endure this economic storm with your only concern being “what investments do we buy next” and “where am I going to get some toilet paper”, I urge you to take this opportunity to step back and look at the bigger picture.
While times of panic and “social distancing” can drive even the most global thinkers to narrow our gaze and prioritize our own needs first, including our own individuals needs for toilet paper it appears, its situations like these that demand we take a wider angle of view.
To provide a helping hand to those who do, and will, in the coming months, need it most. To the neighbours in our community who didn’t have an emergency fund. Who’s sole income streams may very well dry up……for much longer than a week or two.
To those who will face a financial crises in their own families that long overshadows the medical implications of COVID-19.
How Can We Help?
1) Get in touch with your local food bank.
The influx of demand on local resources such as food banks is going to increase substantially. Meanwhile, it is extremely likely, as peoples attention is focussed elsewhere, donations will plummet.
Touch base and see what resources can help them the most.
Oftentimes, us going out and buying supplies to donate is NOT the best option. Many food banks have agreements with local grocery stores in which they are given cheap access to shortly expiring food products, and/or stores that offer them food at a rate slightly above cost, or provide a 2 to 1 dollar ratio.
Bottom line – the food banks dollars spent will often go MUCH further than your dollars spent. So while it’s great to go pick up supplies and drop them off, in this instance, your donation of cash may serve the community much better. So talk to them and find out.
*Not to mention, food bank volunteers going to do a single bulk pick-up of supplies is more ideal than a bunch of us heading to our local grocery stores and then showing up at the donation centre.
2) Alleviate The Strain on Healthcare
Unless you ABSOLUTELY require medical assistance, this is not the time to be scheduling doctor’s appointments, or going to your local ER. The best thing we can all do is just stay away.
This is a virus. There is no magical cure.
Don’t be an unnecessary drain on their already strained resources. Be pragmatic. Don’t panic. Use your head.
If you have a concern – CALL. Get instructions from your local health authority, and proceed accordingly.
Going in when you don’t need to is taking resources away from people who really need it. This is not the time to by a selfish hypochondriac.
3) Don’t Stop Spending
Here’s where I tell you to do something that goes directly against the FIRE code. Spend. Not at Costco or Superstore, but at your local businesses. Support them in what is undoubtedly a very difficult time. Even if it’s as simple as buying gift cards for future use.
On our small street alone we have neighbours who own a bakery, a restaurant, a local printing shop, and a glass shop. They are all families, with kids nearing the ever expensive post-secondary school. Not to mention, the bakery owner is only recently recovering from cancer and highly immune compromised.
These families live in nice homes, and by all appearances live normal middle class lives. And yet, they are already feeling the burden of what is happening. And, for them, it’s going to continue to get worse.
This is just a small sampling from our street alone. We are all going to have friends and neighbours on our own streets, and within our communities, with similar stories.
As a small segment of society who is going to have ready cash to spend, continue to spend wisely by all means, but spend local. Support those small businesses, and by doing so, support your neighbours.
4) Talk To Your Community
In the internet era, we don’t need to see each other to talk. So rather than talking to the global void on Twitter, talk to your local community. Find out if there are families in your immediate area who are struggling.
Maybe they need a little assistance with their next gas or electricity bill, groceries, or paying for a necessary medication.
Let’s help them out.
While it’s no one’s intention, the economic impact of the preventative actions for CoVid-19 are very likely to cause substantial fatalities all on their own. As a community, let’s try to prevent fatalities from things as simple as not having the money to pay for heating/cooling, food, or necessary medications.
As much as everyone is telling us to keep our social distance, and we should heed that advice, that only means physically. There is no reason to pull apart as communities, or ignore the wide ranging economic suffering that is going to be felt.
This is absolutely a time to get creative, and pull together. To see beyond the imminent fears about the medical nature of this virus, to the vast ripple effects that will be faced by our friends and neighbours.
The Bottom Line
It’s not going to take any of us FIRE peeps long to best prepare for what COVID-19 has to throw at us. Make sure your health is in order, that your immune system is in prime fighting shape, and that you are familiar and understand your local health authorities recommendations for preventing further transmission.
Beyond that – it’s time to turn our attention outward.
While we may not all be prepper’s in the traditional sense, we do tend to be cash preppers. And in the coming months, having cash on hand may very well allow us to provide a lot of necessary help to those around us.
FIRE community – consider this your #COVIDChallange. What are YOU going to do to help?
If you have thoughts and idea’s on how to best help out your local community with the resources available to you, leave a comment. We can all help inspire each other.