It’s May Flowers month, so I would like to take this month’s blog to look on the brighter side. We began this quarantine journey during the raw March winds when we too were raw and reeling from the shock of what was happening. Many people experienced a job loss or at least a reduction in pay. We could barely wrap our brains around what was happening. All we could do was retreat to our homes, as we were told to do, and try to make sense of it all.
We remained hunkered down through the rains of April, for the most part even unable to get outside much in the soggy world out there. As the temperatures plummeted out there so did our investments, and often our spirits. Things looked pretty bleak. All we could do was take stock of where we were financially and in every other way. For those of us who still had jobs it was just a matter of staying afloat and ignoring the stock market plunge (as we are always told to do), and stay the course. For those struggling with income loss it was a matter of prioritizing and taking care of the most pressing needs (shelter and food). The rest would have to be figured out eventually.
“But Victoria”, I can hear you saying now, “I thought this was going to be a silver linings message?” Ok, well now it’s May. The month of flowers. We are still home, but the initial shock has worn off a little. Those that have lost income have hopefully figured out a way to get their most important needs met. Maybe they are getting unemployment, SNAP benefits, food from a food bank, their stimulus check, or help from other sources. The rest of us are learning to live at home, creating new routines, keeping ourselves busy and occupied.
But the real May flowers are going to be what we take away for having gone through this. For many this time has given us somewhat of a wake-up call. We were hurrying along through life without even thinking about where all our money and time were going. This has given us time to pause, and think, and live a different way, whether we wanted to or no
Many are surprised to see how little they are spending now that they are forced to stay home, unable to go to restaurants, coffee shops, stores, bars, movies, concerts, etc., etc. Some never paid attention to how much all that was really costing them. And some are finding that they actually can lead a pretty good life without all that spending. Perhaps they will rethink it when life returns to normal. So that’s a silver lining. Forced savings helps you discover a different way.
Some people were caught short with no savings to help get them through a time of no income. It’s a hard lesson to learn for sure, but a lesson learned nonetheless. In either case being at home gives you the time to step back and examine the way you have been living, where your money has been going and to make some changes moving forward. What was once an abstract notion “I know I should be saving up for an emergency fund” becomes stark reality, and hopefully, brings about positive change for the future. A silver lining!
The silver linings go beyond all that though. As usual when we go through tough times, it brings out the goodness in people. Acts of kindness and generosity abound. It is heartwarming to hear the stories of people going above and beyond for their neighbors, friends and people they don’t even know.
And staying at home has given us a chance to live at a different pace, to stop all the rushing about and really spend time with each other in ways we rarely do when life is going full tilt. We have been playing board games, making meals and baking together, even just talking and going for long walks together. Some people have reconnected with old hobbies that they never had time for when life was in full swing. Knitting, gardening, painting, playing an instrument... All that is the best silver lining of all as far as I am concerned. If you know me at all, in person or from my writing, you know that I have long championed the slower, simpler, frugal lifestyle that has now become a forced reality for many.
I would like to think that some of this will stick, that at least some people will come away from all this with a new perspective. Priorities will shift. People will slow down just a little. Spend more time home with their families and less money on needless frivolities. I think that would be the biggest silver lining of all. A beautiful May flower indeed!
Now if only something would come along to force us to reduce our screen time…
Wishing you all a bright and beautiful flowery future!