This is Blogging For Beginners: A Step By Step Guide PT 1. So you have always wanted to start a blog but have been a bit nervous or put off. Perhaps you hate the thought of strangers reading your posts. There is also the cost element and how do you even go about starting a…
Archives for May 2020
I took a much needed hiatus for the last few weeks to come to terms with the new world order of life during the COVID-19 lockdown.
I did the usual. Stockpiled water, canned goods, cereal, and toilet paper.
Now I’m back.
If this blog could talk, I am sure it would have asked me this question.
After making sure I had food, water, and medicine to stay physically healthy, my mind started wondering about my fiscal health.
Then I thought, shouldn’t people also be making sure they are staying not only safe, but also financially solvent during the pandemic.
Much like Angela Chase (Claire Danes) was constantly obsessing about her crush Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) in My So-Called Life (MSCL), I would find myself constantly obsessing over my finances.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, My So-Called Life is an American teen drama television series from the 90’s that aired on ABC and then in reruns on MTV for years after it ended with only one season.
The plot surrounded a young 15-year-old girl that spent much of her time trying to figure out life and navigate being on the cusp on adulthood. The cast also just recently did a virtual reunion and reunited back together in 2020.
Now, back to my story.
I needed a fiscal safety net and plan in place that would allow me to weather and fiscal storm, including the coronavirus.
With over 33 million people filing for unemployment, I needed to shore up my resources.
My So-Called Finances needed my full attention. I was up for the undertaking.
START FROM THE FISCAL BEGINNING
Many of my lessons about money started when I was very young. I knew it was very important to have money so that you could take care of yourself and your family.
I got in the habit of saving when I was only three years old. That habit hasn’t changed. I have technically always been a saver.
However, along the way, I got lost. Kind of the same way that Alice did in Wonderland.
I too found myself in a maze of things I did not understand. I needed those signs like Alice got.
You know the ones. They said things like; Drink me.
By high school, I was an angst ridden teen with a penchant for spending. Then it hit me. Maybe I should start reading about this money stuff.
My 401(k) would be my new boyfriend.
As, time went on, I started obsessing about retirement. The hand-to-mouth existence dd not appeal to me.
I thought about what the heroine, Angela, in MSCL would do. She would probably start reading a book and asking a friend for advice.
I knew the same way Amy March did in Little Women that I would not be pauper.
Fun Fact: Claire Danes also starred as Beth in the 1994 adaption of the book.
Therefore, I had to change some things. They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one. It hurt to see that low bank balance, but it had to be done. To know where you are going, you have to know where you are.
The first step was to set a goal. If I had something to aim for, then I had a purpose. The goal: A one million-dollar 401(k).
LEARN HOW TO BECOME FI
The Tools to Succeed 1. Learn skills to sell for money You need the skills to become Financially Independent (FI).
I wanted to be fiscally savvy. Therefore, I had to read. Angela started off the show reading the book, The Diary of Anne Frank.
I started my FI journey reading a Kiplinger magazine. Then from there, I started watching the Suze Orman show. I knew I didn’t want to sit at a desk for 12 years only to end up sitting at a desk for another 40. I needed a plan. Being able to escape the rat race sooner rather than later appealed to me.
I started devouring personal finance books and blogs. Some of my personal favorites are The Automatic Millionaire, The Millionaire Next Door and I Will Teach You to be Rich. Then you have to decide on a path. I chose passive investing.
That turned on the light-bulb for me. Wealth building is about action.
Building wealth would take time, sacrifice, and work.
PASSIVE VS ACTIVE WEALTH STRATEGIES
Some people choose to start a business, become doctors, lawyers, actors, musicians, consultants, chefs or to make their fortune. I would get mine by investing.
I still needed a career to get paid. So, I found an employer to buy time form me and I equally willing to sell time to them. You can work in the public or private sector.
You can get further up the income ladder by gaining skills in the public sector and then selling them at a markup in the private sector to arbitrage your valuable skill assets.
I picked a job in finance. Once I got that job offer, I made the choice to start investing ASAP.
The 401(k) offers a maximum contribution of $19,000 and the IRA (Traditional or Roth) offers a max of $6,000. That is a total of $25,000 annually. I got my start with 6% and a match of 3%. Then, I slowly started working my way up by increasing my contributions by 1% a year.
2. Passive strategies There are two strategies here: A. Live below your means (LBYM); B. work smarter not harder.
Your employer wants to make more off of you than they pay you. Your work will not go unrewarded, but will be under-rewarded. Therefore, it is your job to invest in yourself by saving for your retirement.
CREATE AN INVESTMENT ATM
You must save enough to start earning large amounts of interest off your principal investment.
3. Accumulation phase Your job here is to start contributing as much as you can to your 401(k).
After, saving a 6-month emergency fund so you are no longer living paycheck-to-paycheck, start putting in every dollar you can into your accounts. Save until it hurts. Even if all you can afford is $50 a month. Save something. This will eventually become your own personal ATM.
It will be like a vending machine. You step up, put in your request, and the machine hands you what you want.
The RMD has now gone from 70.5 to 72. Therefore, you can let your money ride on the interest gravy train for an additional 1.5 years. On a million-dollar portfolio, that would mean an additional $105,000 with a 7% rate of return.
KEEPING IT PASSIVE
Building up your assets. I started with $5 and then went on to my first $100,000 and beyond. It can be done.
4. Passively build a sizable investment pool Find ways to earn income.
This can be with royalties from writing a book, collecting rent on rental properties, or renting out your parking space.
The goal is to trade time up front to build an income stream that with essentially last forever. Then you can kick back and relax.
If you have to sell 40 hours a week or the sum of 2,080 a year, you should get something out of the deal. Simple math can change your life.
I knew that one-million could spit off $50,000 of income forever with a 5% return. I just had to get there first. When I got to the point where my next money milestone was going to be $300,000, I knew I was on to something.
FREEDOM IS THE ANSWER
Why invest so much money? It’s simple. The answer is freedom.
Free from worry over how to pay bills, over how you spend your time, and quality of life.
Money equals power.
Money lets you be more confident.
Debt consumes as it only takes from you and gives you nothing.
The way to build your confidence is through positive experiences. Paying off debt then saving and investing that money will give you that. This in turn will build your self-esteem.
My favorite scene in MSCL was the one in the episode titled, “self-esteem.”
Confidence is key my friends. It attracts things to you. In Angela’s case, it was Jordan. Oops. I meant to say Jordan Catalano. For some reason on that show, he could never just be Jordan.
So, you see in the end, that you can get what you want. You just have to be patient, ask for it, and work for it. They say ask and you shall receive. Try it. I did.
And the results are amazing.
I was nominated by a fellow blogger, Lisa from Fluxing Well, for the Encouraging Blogger Award. Finding support and encouragement in her own blogging journey, Lisa founded this award to recognize and encourage other bloggers.
Lisa’s blog covers an array of fun topics from cooking and travel to technology. Fluxing Well approaches topics with an eye on flexibility, creativity and a willingness to try new things.
She is one of the first bloggers I met when I started my blogging journey and she has been an inspiration to me.
What is the Encouraging Blogger Award?
The Encouraging Blogger Award was created to recognize any blogger who encourages others with his or her posts. Bloggers may encourage others to travel, try new things, have a positive mindset, or overcome adversity, for example. An encouraging blog may encourage other bloggers or give business tips.
Many blogs are encouraging and we don’t even realize it. Bloggers nominate fellow bloggers for this award, and nominees write a post answering a few questions.
After that, the nominee nominates other bloggers.
Behind-the-Scenes at Goatdog Simple
As part of the nomination, I am answering a few questions to share a little about myself. So here’s behind-the-scenes–
When and why did you start blogging?
I started blogging last summer after thinking about it for a few months. I was looking for a creative outlet to do some writing and share stories.
My background is in mass communication and I simply adore anything that involves creativity. As a busy mom, my life was full of obligations and routines while lacking that spark that comes from new adventures. I’ve followed a few bloggers for years and convinced myself to give it a try.
What is your blog about?
I blog about financial independence and simple living. Money is something we all need to learn to manage. I’ve learned a lot through mistakes. I would like my kids to have a smarter start than I did.
I’ve had credit card debt, student loans and bad spending habits. I’ve fumbled quite a bit with my personal finances but have walked away with a few good lessons. Turning those mistakes around and working hard have led to financial freedom. I want others to know they can do it, too.
What advice would you give to encourage new bloggers?
The practice over time will help you develop your writing style. You’ll be amazed at how much there is to learn and how quickly you will master it. Find support in blogging communities.
Which is your favorite time-saving blogging tip or scheduling tool?
Set a schedule.
I’ve tried to break down my work week so I have days to focus on writing, promoting and networking. It’s easy to work on your blog all day if you don’t manage your time well.
I’m focusing on streamlining my system.
What are your future goals for your blog?
I hope to continue writing and grow my blog. I’d like to collaborate with other content creators and find ways to build on the idea of simple living and financial freedom.
I’m still figuring out the technical side of the blog so I hope to reach a point where I’ve created an easy to use site with helpful content.
My Nominees for the Encouraging Blogger Award
I’ve realized how much I value reading other bloggers’ work and how it’s shaped my own writing. I truly draw strength from the blogging community.
Although my niche is personal finance, I’ve found myself browsing more lifestyle blogs. I’ve seen how other writers have reinvented their blogs to push through changing times. Their stories are personal and relevant.
These nominees share their experiences and inspire us to explore. They find novelty in the every day while sharing a passion for more self discovery. I often find myself reading and nodding my head–
Brooke blogs about optimizing your life and finding true happiness along the way.
The focus of Shana’s blog is self-improvement and growth, with a focus on mental health and self care.
Shifa started this blog to educate on the importance of healthy living in this modern age– help you take control of your life and guide you towards better health.
Elizabeth writes about gardening tips, upcycling techniques, DIY projects and natural parenting tips.
Nilakshi is a blogger, English teacher and an inspirational coach who helps creative over-thinkers get back on track.
Mike is a retired military veteran with 30 years of service that has traveled extensively and uses that knowledge to help others travel on a budget.
Rose blogs about creating a wellness lifestyle that works for you. Not just physically, but for all aspects of your life…mentally, emotionally, and spiritually too.
Britt’s blog Shed Happens is a pet-focused blog looking to connect pet lovers and owners from around the world. Articles span a wide variety of topics ranging from funny pet pictures to pet care tips.
Guidelines for Nominees
For nominees who would like to enter the award contest, please visit the Encouraging Blogger Award for further instructions.
Congratulations and thank you for your amazing work. You’re why our blogging community is so inspiring.
Encouraging In Many Ways
I’d like to thank Lisa for the nomination and for founding the Encouraging Blogger Award. As a blogger, it puts a smile on my face to get recognized. It’s a boost to continue writing.
I do hope you enjoy reading through these encouraging blogs and discover some new ideas to bookmark. I learn something new every day from different corners of the blogging community.
Once you’ve read through these, keep exploring. There are so many great bloggers creating amazing content. Don’t want you to miss out!
You may also enjoy reading–
Your probably asking yourself, “Why is there an “Estate Planning Basics” post on a website about frugality. Well, that’s easy. My website is about saving money, living well, being organized and loving my family well. That’s why I feel it’s important to encourage the people I care about to step up and take care of these things, no matter how uncomfortable or depressing this subject may be.
Frugality does play a big part in this very subject. If you don’t take care of it while you’re alive, it can be not only emotional, but very costly to the ones you leave behind. Therefore, I hope, with this post, I can shed some light on this subject and steer you in the right direction on getting started and not being fearful.
*This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure page.
Estate Planning Basics
Estate planning is something that we all know we SHOULD do but it’s something that so many people either put off or they just totally ignore it all together. It’s a sad fact of life that none of us are going to get out of this alive. Death is part of living and we all have to face it at one time or another. Death affects the young, the old, the sick and the healthy. So, if we all know it’s coming, why do we put off planning for it? Well, because it’s scary…plain and simple. But it’s also the most loving thing anyone can do for their loved ones. Why not make the most difficult time as easy as possible for the people we love? We can all make this sad part of life a little bearable for our family with some estate planning basics and a little preplanning.
Not Sure if You Have an Estate?
Believe it or not, you do. Everyone has an estate. An estate comprises everything that you own…your home, car, checking/savings accounts, real estate, furniture, life insurance policies and everything else you own.
Estate planning isn’t just for the wealthy. It’s for everyone and it’s just as important to people with modest assets as it is to the wealthy. Sometimes, people with modest assets have the most to lose, so it’s imperative that we all do this to ensure that our precious families are taken care of after we’re gone.
I started with this one because I feel it’s at the top of the list in regards to importance. I’ve actually heard people say that they are afraid to buy life insurance because if they do, they might die! What???? Yes, we are all going to die, hopefully, later rather than sooner.
Ask yourself this…If I died tomorrow, how would my family get by? How would they pay the bills, make ends meet? Life insurance is VITAL for every household…Period!
If you are a spouse, have dependent children or have anyone else who relies on you financially, you need life insurance.
If you are a stay at home mom that cares for dependent children, you NEED life insurance. Think about it. A mother wears many hats. Your husband would have to hire someone to take care of the children and the home if you were gone. So, please don’t underestimate your value as a SAHM just because you may not bring in an income.
My favorite financial guru, Dave Ramsey, says we need 10 times our yearly income in life insurance. So that means if you make $50,000 a year, you need $500,000 in life insurance to take care of your family after your gone. This will enable them to not have such an abrupt change in lifestyle and affords them time to make life changing decisions and deal with grief.
Dave also strongly recommends that you get life insurance, yesterday. Meaning, this is NOT part of your debt snowball. It’s not something that you should put off. We never know what will happen tomorrow so do it as soon as possible.
What Kind of Life Insurance Should You get?
This is a no brainer. Term Life Insurance is hands down the best and most affordable. The difference between Term and Whole Life Insurance is big. With Term, you’re just paying for insurance. It’s extremely affordable. Obviously, the younger you are, the more you can get at a low price. If you smoke, it will be a little more. It also has an end date. Meaning, you can take out 10, 20 or 30 year policies. (You can renew at a higher rate later on, if needed.) Even so, it’s the most economical way to go.
With Whole Life, you’re paying for insurance but it also accumulates a cash value. Sounds great, right? Wrong! While it can be retained for the life of the insured, Whole Life insurance tends to be a lot more expensive than Term. Cash value is also a big selling point, but the thing is, when you die, only the death benefit is paid. The insurance company keeps the cash value.
The important thing to remember here is do not use an insurance policy as a savings vehicle. You can do that on your own.
Buy low Term and do your own investing and you’ll come out way better in the long run.
Life Insurance is No Longer Needed When…
Life insurance is no longer needed, usually, when you no longer have dependents that rely on your income. That means that you should be able to self insure when your children are grown, you no longer have a mortgage and you have saved for retirement. If you would like to carry a small amount, just enough for burial, that would be fine too.
Who Needs a Will?
Everyone needs a will!! Yes, everyone!
A will is a document that states your final wishes. It sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children.
According to a 2015 Rocket Lawyer estate planning survey by Harris Poll, 64% of Americans don’t have a will. Of those without a plan, about 27% said there isn’t an urgent need for them to make one and 15% said they don’t need one at all. Procrastination can be very costly, especially with estate planning.
Why Do You Need a Will?
A will gives you complete discretion over the distribution of your assets and it lets you decide how your belongings, such as family heirlooms and any assets you have, should be distributed.
If you die without a will or an estate plan, you can be sure that the state you live in will have one for you and you and/or your heirs may not like it. Depending on your state, your assets may be distributed according to that states probate laws. If you’re married and have children, your assets would be divided up equally among your heirs. That means your spouse might only receive a fraction of your estate, which may not be enough for them to live on.
If you have minor children, you can decide who you would like to provide for their care. I would much prefer me over the State, in deciding who’s going to get my kids, should something happen to me and the other parent.
Sometimes, the simplest things have torn families apart over something so simple, like who gets grandpa’s watch or grandma’s sewing machine. It doesn’t have to be this way. Nip it in the bud and take the time to go over and cover these estate planning basics for those you care about.
How To Get a Will
If your estate is substantial, I would advise consulting an attorney. Usually, the larger the estate, the more complex it is.
If you are comfortable taking care of it on your own, there are a number of ways to do this that are relatively inexpensive.
A holographic will is entirely hand written and signed by the testator, the person who makes the will. Make sure your state recognizes this kind of will and what kind of requirements there are.
My husband and I went through LegalZoom. You purchase the kit for your state. It had everything we needed, as our estate is fairly basic. We have no minor children at home any longer, but when we did, there was a specific will in the LegalZoom kit that provided for this.
Amazon also has basic Will Kits, like this one below. It’s very simple, easy to understand, easy to fill out and comes with all the basic forms you need to get started.
Do a little research and decide what is best for you, your family and your budget. The most important thing is to just do it.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint another person to take control of your affairs should you become unable to effectively do so.
In estate planning, a durable power of attorney allows an agent (i.e. a spouse or adult child) to manage all of the affairs of the principal (you), should they become unable to do so. But what it does not have is a set time period, like most non durable power of attorneys and it becomes effective immediately upon the incapacitation of the principal. It expires upon the principal’s death.
This document is easy to come by and it can give your spouse the authority to conduct your business if you can’t do so. I believe you can find one online that you can download by googling “free durable power of attorney”. Just make sure you select one for your state.
The medical power of attorney works basically the same way regarding medical wishes, should you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on your own, pertaining to healthcare. You are able to state exactly what your healthcare preferences are and make specific limitations on the agent’s (whoever you choose for decision making) decision making authority.
Where To Put This Information
Once you have these 3-4 basic steps in place, you need a safe place to put them. Nothing could be more frustrating for your loved ones than to have to hunt for your will, life insurance policies and power of attornies. The best thing to do is to put all of this information together and let someone you trust know where it is. Maybe putting everything in a file labeled “Legacy File” or just plain “Wills and Life Insurance”. Putting your information in a safety deposit box is ok, but someone will need to know where the key is. It is also a good idea to have your account ID’s and passwords written down or stored somewhere so that who ever you leave in charge will be able to step in to take care of your business, should you not be able to.
Off To a Good Start
If you take care of these three basic necessities, Congratulations! You’re off to a very good start! As you dive deeper into estate planning, your plan will begin to develop and will probably expand as your life and needs change. Your finances will probably improve, your children will grow up and your assets will probably change.
We’ve changed our wills a few times over the years to reflect what is happening currently. The wills that we made 20 years ago look nothing like the ones we have today.
By doing some estate planning basics, you and your family will have some peace of mind. This is one of the most loving, thoughtful and considerate things that we can do for our families and loved ones.
Have you taken the time to take care these estate planning basics? I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below and be sure to subscribe to Love To Frugal, so you never miss a post! You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook & Instagram for more frugal living, money saving tips!
Let’s Inject a little normalcy into this crazy world, shall we? We are back with May Dividends! I update my New Dividend Payouts every month and my Blogroll is crawling with Dividend sites, let’s face it, I’m a Dividend Junkie. Surely, I am far from alone. There are loads of us out here in the … Continue reading Back to Dividends in May
As I write this, the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV-2). As a world, at the beginning of May, we crossed 300,000 deaths, and we have more ahead of us. Our hospitals have been swamped, our medics are working flat out, double shifts in many cases, schools have closed and normal life has been suspended while the world’s governments try to bring it under control. We are in the surreal position, that everyone knows that this is only a temporary respite until a vaccine is available sometime in 2021. I started trying to keep a graph, but I stopped after about 6 weeks, it was just too depressing…. If you are into the data, you’ll find the latest stats here. UK is set to be the worst place in Europe within a few weeks, I suspect.
Source – Our world in data
However, there is hope out there – there are signs that things are coming under control. In many countries, even the UK, the death rate is slowing, some are thankfully starting to ease lockdown, but there is no doubt about the world’s economy is in a bit of a mess!
So What is happening?
How is everyone taking the changes to our lifestyle? The answer is many faceted, but here are a few examples.
- Some are taking it very well, particularly the very elderly. A friend 91, now effectively house bound, or should I say room bound in a tiny apartment, is remarkably sanguine about it. Everyone in the complex is doing the same. No-one is letting anyone, even family, in and food deliveries are left outside their front doors… Many of these older people lived through WW2 and rationing, so they are just shrugging their shoulders and turning the TV on! Let’s face it, the very elderly are among the ones who are most exposed, but the general feedback, is we’ve had a good innings and we have to die at some stage, so I’m not going to worry about it!
- Some are behaving very badly. Here in the UK, we have experienced panic buying on everything, from toilet rolls, to pasta, soap to hand sanitiser. As some wise person pointed out – do you think the average person understands the difference between norovirus and coronavirus? Equally, while all the pasta sold out initially, all the jars of pasta sauce were still there, so what were they going to put on their pasta? People working shifts, initially couldn’t even feed themselves properly. Thankfully it has settled down.
- Some people are being really helpful. There are many stories of people who are putting notes through neighbour’s letterboxes, saying we can do your shopping for you, or if you need help, just call. Local area Facebook groups have sprung up everywhere, to support each other. Students who are off from college, have been volunteering to help with childcare, visiting elderly people, shelf stacking etc. These heartwarming stories offset the doom and gloom of the selfish panic buyers.
- Most people are just being sensible. My husband is 70+, and is one of those advised to stay home, except for a daily walk in the fresh air, in a quiet area where he won’t meet anyone. I am younger than him, but if I go out and about and acquire the infection, that isn’t helping, so I am staying home as well. Many of our friends are doing much the same. Maybe this year our garden will look fantastic, without a weed in sight. (or maybe not! I’m really not into weeding!)
- Some of the younger generation are just ignoring it, continuing to go out socially, but as more pictures are emerging of 20 year olds lying on hospital trolleys, saying this is not just a cold, this hurts, this is real, they are starting to wake up.
- People are innovating, and innovating fast. My very small Spanish school, has organised themselves to run online courses, as they can no longer do face to face classes for the immediate future. They’re back in business, although they will have a drop-off in custom, but as we are housebound, this is a nice way to keep in contact. The supermarkets are getting together to share deliveries and optimise stock. Office based businesses are pulling out all the stops to enable their staff to work from home. Netflix is even doing their bit, they are reducing the picture quality so it takes up less broadband. Schools and universities are ramping up their online education.
Where do we go next?
As my husband recently pointed out, there is no obvious Exit Strategy. None of the answers are pleasant. We either
- eliminate the virus, and all our countries reacted too late to do that. By the time everyone woke up to it, the cat (or virus) was out of the bag! A few exceptions such as New Zealand, but they are now exposed to any person coming into the country bringing it back in again…
- we live with it, until an effective vaccine is found, and made available to all. The current preferred course of action is hibernation – social distancing and self-isolation. (I am discovering this is making me really lazy. When all your days are the same, there is a huge opportunity to procrastinate…)
- we take the hard course, and all generate a herd immunity. I think this was what the UK government was hoping for until they realised the hospitals just wouldn’t cope, and some very hard decisions would have to be made, such as – If you are 75 or over, you will not be treated… Political suicide. Not attractive to a politician.
- we must work out a way to protect our more vulnerable communities. Across the world, the impact has been most felt in Care Homes. (Sweden, UK, US) Once a virus comes in to a closed community, it wreaks havoc. More than two thirds of the care homes in Scotland have been affected. In Sweden much of their death rate is down to infection in larger Care Homes.
Two Different Points of View
Give up Lockdown v Keep Lockdown. There is some evidence starting to emerge that the virus might be easing, regardless. Those countries easing lockdown are not experiencing a surge in new cases as they expected. Maybe Social Distancing, and ‘Wash Your Hands’ was all that is needed. Can we speed up our ‘Opening Up’ activities. We have all become so scared…. The data is certainly starting to show that Social Distancing / Masks are pretty effective, and those countries haven’t seen the massive employment hit that UK has.
Follow the data has become the message…. It will be interesting to see the review in this in a year, always supposing I survive the expected far larger peak this coming winter.
The long term impact?
The world as we know it has changed for the long term. That sounds a pessimistic statement, but it is really an optimistic one. How? Why?
As the world has shut down much of its manufacturing, and people are not commuting and working from home, the evidence from satellite pictures is too overwhelming to ignore. We have vastly trimmed our carbon emissions. This pandemic, has been fantastic for the health of our planet. Venice canals are returning to their normal blue colour, not a murky brown.
That leads me on to Travel. Over the last 40 or 50 years, we all have acquired more leisure time, we have all taken to exploring the world by sea (cruising) and by air (cheap package holidays). The grey-haired among us (including myself) have health and energy, so we are making up for the opportunities that weren’t available to us when we were younger. But that in itself has led to a crisis. Small places like Venice in Italy and Skye in Scotland, are completely swamped by tourists. Venice in daytime is totally drowned in day trips from cruise ships, Skye is overrun with tour groups. The whole character of Edinburgh, my city, is changing. It is now a totally service economy – a cafe and tourist culture. Sadly it will be a long time until I see Madrid again. I do so want to practice my Spanish, but not this summer….
Behaviour Change is inevitable. Physical shops are no longer a necessity – everything is available online. This is a side effect of our quarantine arrangements. More and more of us are being forced to order online. After potentially 3-6 months of isolation, how many shops are still going to be around? Once we have got used to not ‘nipping down to the shops’, why would we bother to start again? So instead of shop assistants, we have a new growth industry in delivery drivers. So what will populate our High Streets? Will today’s shop units just become cafe, restaurants and leisure opportunities, or will they return to residential places?
Will people want to start travelling again? I think our world will become more insular. More and more the words might be – we’ll maybe not bother this year, we’ll give everything time to settle down. prices are bound to rise. Many airlines and travel agents will have gone bust, so choices will be far more limited than before. Countries may return to only having one airline, and I suspect people may be less willing to climb on the massive cruise ships.
Impact on People and Family Relationships
Take a young family unit impacted by social distancing – two parents working full-time from home, with two young children under 5. No available childcare, nurseries closed and grandparents unable to help because of age and/or health issues. Museums, playcentres are all closed because of risk of infection. Father starts working at 6am until 9am, Mother gets the children up and dressed, she works from 9-12, while father looks after children, then signs off for 1 hour lunch, she picks up childcare, father works from 12-1, then they swap yet again, she works from 1-4pm, and they swap, father works until 8pm. If they are really lucky they might grab a chat, the children may play ‘lightly supervised’ for about an hour. It is probably 9pm at earliest that they can grab an hour together. Then 10pm bed, and tomorrow the treadmill starts again.
Take another young family, both working in front-line occupations, two young children, one or both working shifts. Grandparents already helping, few childcare options. Their lives are just a mass of juggling childcare in among a busy and sometimes traumatic working life.
Then there is the older couple. Both have always led very busy lives, each doing very different things. Now they are thrust together 24 x 7, and they find out each other has annoying habits! A retirement plan they certainly hadn’t expected!
What is that sort of pressure going to do to their long term relationships. Yes, it is fine for a week or two, even a month or two. But 6 months? Apparently the divorce rate in Wuhan is increasing. I am not surprised.
Then there are people with mental health issues and/or disabilities. I know of several people who already suffer from isolation issues, and find it hard to be on their own. They are not going to cope with self-isolation well. Their support lifelines are under threat. My neighbour works with older people. they have been told to talk to them by phone, and if they do have to visit face to face, they are not allowed to stay in the room for more than 15 minutes. Another relies on a regular visit from a mental health nurse, and is extremely worried about how she will cope without that support.
Add into this, the trauma of a family member being hospitalised. No visiting, and in some cases, even end-of-life care is only available via Zoom. So hard for those who are ill, but almost worse for those waiting outside, desperate to hold their hand, or speak to them. No easy answer.
Will the world return to normal?
I am hopeful that we can learn from some of those places, where they implemented the use of masks, and social distancing, but didn’t close everything down. Sweden and Taiwan come to mind. We have to come up with a solution that lets our young people roam free again, and get our economy kicked into life again. We older people, need to recognise that maybe we need to stay home more.
There is also a rising awareness that perhaps our lifestyles have contributed to the problem. The epidemic of Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, are risk markers. Many people in Lockdown are trying to use the time to improve their weight, take exercise and generally come out of lockdown healthier than before. (Sadly, we haven’t been totally successful in this area… We have had more snacks in the last 6 weeks than in the last 6 months. So a Work In Progress here…) One for another day!
Keep washing your hands, keep your distance and generally look after yourself. This is a marathon, not a sprint! This is the New Normal, and it will be with us for months to come!
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