At some point, we play a role in how much we allow this new reality to dominate our thinking
I set a goal in January to post one new article on this website every other week. Outside of school assignments, I’ve never written on a regular basis. But I want to become more active, intentional, and organized about sharing my perspective on personal finance.
I’m aware that almost any weekly goal will become challenging at some point. Through two months, though, I didn’t encounter any significant barriers. Then the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic arrived in the U.S.
I had planned on writing about something else this week. In fact — like everyone — I had planned many things for this week and the weeks ahead that no longer are feasible. Instead, daily updates to coronavirus policies, risks, and costs have exhausted my mental energy. I’ve become distracted very easily. And anything that I might have written no longer feels relevant.
These feelings don’t even address the financial implications of a shuttered economy and sheltered population. Many people will see their financial stability deteriorate due to this situation — and we don’t even know yet what the end looks like.
The Limits of a Singular Focus
Even at this early stage, I imagine I could spend the rest of this year writing about how the pandemic has upended personal finances around the world. And as a Certified Financial Planner, I certainly will try to help in any way that I can. I doubt, though, that I will want to use this space for ongoing coronavirus commentary.
Studies have shown that people are most likely to change their commuting habits when they move to a new office or residence. I think we’re currently experiencing a similar dynamic, but on a much larger scale. Life, as we know it, essentially has stopped.
A Forced Financial Reset
We all will feel some level of fear, anxiety, or stress for the foreseeable future. But at some point (provided we’re healthy), we play a role in how much we allow this new reality to dominate our thinking. I’m trying to focus now on the opportunities the pandemic has created for a financial reset or recalibration.
Our spending values, our budgets, and our savings goals all may look different in the months ahead. Like a commuter, I hope to use this forced change to make financial decisions that better reflect who I am and what I want out of life.
Kevin Mahoney, CFP® is the founder & CEO of Illumint, a Washington, D.C.-based financial planning company for young couples. He specializes in navigating the new financial decisions that arise during our late 20s and 30s, such as repaying student loans, buying a house, & investing savings. Kevin also works with employers and brands on a variety of Millennial personal finance events and projects, including speaking engagements, financial wellness programs, and sponsored campaigns.