How We’re Managing Our Money During the Coronavirus Pandemic
As COVID-19–the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus–ravages the world, I feel fear and helplessness. My children’s school–and every school in our state–is closed until April 6th (or later). Bars and restaurants are closed. In neighboring states, everything save grocery stores and pharmacies is shuttered. The NBA, NHL, MLS and MLB all cancelled their seasons. Broadway is closed. Disneyland shut its doors. The stock market is spiraling down. Things are not looking good, folks. So what can we do other than stress out and inhale our quarantine snacks while refreshing our news feeds? We can do frugality. Our spending is something we can control in a world that feels out of control.
Choosing To Stay Home
Starting on Monday, my family and I decided to put ourselves in self-imposed isolation. We’re not going anywhere or inviting anyone over. We’re not going to the grocery store, we’re not going to the library, we’re not going to the pharmacy. This might seem like an extreme response, but we’ve chosen total isolation for the following reasons:
1) We can.
My husband and I have the extreme privilege of already working from home. As long as we have internet, we can work. This is a profound privilege and I know this isn’t the reality for many people. Since we have this ability to stay home, we feel a duty to do so to remove ourselves from the pool of people who could possibly get sick or get others sick. There are many people who cannot stay home–doctors, nurses, grocery store cashiers, etc–and so those of us who can stay home, should. If you can swing it to work from home or stay at home, do it and do it now, as our government advises.
2) We can flatten the curve of new cases.
By taking our family out of circulation, we hope to decrease our chances of requiring a Coronavirus test, treatment, hospital bed, ventilator, and of course, the precious resources that are our healthcare workers. If we can keep the four of us home and healthy for a few weeks, we can–in our own small way–reduce the stress on our healthcare system. The issue is that when everyone gets sick at once, there simply aren’t enough medical resources to care for everyone.
At the very least, by staying home for a few weeks, we can delay contracting the disease so that our hospitals and healthcare systems aren’t all flooded by patients at the same time. More about the need to flatten the curve in this article: Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now.
3) We can avoid infecting others.
We are not sick, but the cruel thing about a virus is that any one of us could unwittingly be an asymptomatic carrier, meaning we could get other people sick without even realizing we’re carriers of the virus. For this reason, avoiding contact with others protects us and them.
4) Staying home is the only way to truly avoid contact with other people.
Yes, we wash our hands and don’t touch our faces and try to get our kids to do the same (you can guess how well that works… ), but the only way to truly avoid any contact is to not see other people. This sounds like an abstinence-only campaign (which, for the record, I don’t support), but I can’t think of any other way to word it. Unfortunately, this virus lives on surfaces long after an infected person has touched them and it can also be transmitted through airborne respiratory droplets (source: The CDC).
What Should I Do With My Money?
The Coronavirus is taking a horrific toll on the US economy. The market is in free fall, businesses are closing, and people are getting laid off. It feels cataclysmic from a financial perspective, but it’s important to remember that we’ve been here before. The previous sentence could’ve been written to describe the fall out from the Great Recession in 2008. So yeah, things are bad, but they’re not unprecedented and we’ve weathered financial storms like this before. I’m no prognosticator and I can’t guarantee the economy will bounce back, but I do think this is a time when historical trends offer perspective: the market bounced back from the Great Depression, the market recovered after the Great Recession. In short, it’s bad, I won’t pretend it’s not, but there are some common sense things we can all do right now:
1) Don’t touch it.
I can’t give you investment advice, because I’m not a financial advisor, but I can tell you what my husband and I are doing with our money: we’re not touching it. We’re not tinkering with our retirement investments, we’re not selling our taxable investments, we’re not buying tons of stock, we’re doing nothing. There’s nothing I can do to influence the stock market, so I’m going to let my investments ride. I’m going to continue investing at the same rate I always do and resist the urge to increase or sell my investments. Nothing good comes from panicked investing/un-investing.
Pulling our money out of the market right now would be the equivalent of selling at a loss. Additionally, trying to time the market and shoveling more money into it could prove unwise since we have no idea if the market has hit bottom yet. For me, the key to weathering a storm like this is to stick with the plan I created when the markets were good.
The reason we don’t touch our investments during a time of crisis is that our portfolio is balanced and able to weather a down market. Since we’re young(ish), our portfolio is more aggressive and risky, which means we lose more in a market like this, but stand to gain more when the market recovers. If we were old(er) and closer to traditional retirement age, our portfolio would be far less risky and much more conservative, which means we wouldn’t lose much in a downturn (and also wouldn’t expect to gain much during a recovery).
This is what it means to have a target-date or age-appropriate investment strategy. When you’re young and have a lot of runway before traditional retirement, you can capitalize on the wild swings in the market to grow your wealth over time. When you’re old, and don’t have much runway left, your investments are more conservative so that you don’t lose your retirement funds right before you need them.
If you’d like to learn more about investing, I recommend the following books and resources:
- Broke Millennial Takes On Investing: A Beginner’s Guide to Leveling Up Your Money, by: Erin Lowry
- (affiliate link)
- The Simple Path to Wealth: Your Road Map to Financial Independence And a Rich, Free Life, by: JL Collins (affiliate link)
- The Bogleheads forum
2) Embrace frugality.
If you were waiting for me to get to the part about where you can actually DO something, touch something, throw your arms around something and smooch it, well, your wait was not in vain. What you CAN do right now is reduce your spending.
This is the #1 reason why I love frugality: it’s something you can do all on your own, without external intervention, without anyone else’s involvement, and you can start ANYTIME and for ANY reason.
Coronavirus is one of the best reasons I’ve heard for embracing frugality. If you, like me, desire proactivity in response to this global pandemic, then frugality is for YOU!! I do not know what’s going to happen with the market or the economy. I do not know what’s going to happen with this virus. It looks like it’s bad and going to get worse. I can’t control either of those things. The one thing I can control right now is my spending.
If you do not have an emergency fund saved up, now’s the time to start one. An emergency fund should be kept in an easily-accessible bank account, such as a high-interest checking or savings account, NOT in investments, retirement funds, or cars/houses/expensive china. An emergency fund is money you can access immediately in an emergency. The general rule of thumb is to have three to six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund, meaning three to six months worth of what you spend every month. This is why it’s so important to track your expenses–I use and recommend the free expense tracker from Personal Capital.
3) Look into refinancing your mortgage.
The Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to near zero and so, right now might be an excellent time to get a lower interest rate on your mortgage. This is one of the only positive impacts of the market’s turmoil. It’s at least worth investigating if you can qualify for a lower interest rate.
4) Do a full assessment of your finances.
If you find yourself at home, with more time on your hands than normal, this could be a fabulous time to do a self-assessment of your monies! Doesn’t that sound AWESOME? No? Really? Am I the only one excited about this? Come on, you guys! It’ll be fun!!
One way to do this is to sign-up for Personal Capital, a free online money management service (affiliate link). I like Personal Capital because it tracks your spending, your investments, your retirement savings, and gives you a real-time picture of your overall net worth. It’s a super comprehensive way to view all of your money in one place, which I think makes it easier to understand your full financial picture. If you want to know more about how Personal Capital works, and why I use it, here’s a post I wrote about it.
To accurately analyze your finances, here’s all of the info you want to pull together:
- Your household’s net income: this is how much money you make every month MINUS all taxes and other withholdings.
- Your household’s monthly spending: this is every dollar you spend every month, including rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, etc.
- A list of your debts: everything you owe money on (house, car, credit cards, student loans, etc).
- A list of your assets: all the money that belongs to you (retirement accounts, savings and checking accounts, the equity in your home, taxable investments, etc).
- Your net worth: your assets minus your debts.
The reason to do this is to give yourself a realistic view of how you’re doing financially and what changes you can/should make during this time of upheaval. Reducing your monthly spending is one of the quickest ways to put yourself on firmer financial footing as it’ll allow you to increase your assets and decrease your debts.
Assess Your Risk Of Losing Your Job
This virus–and the probable impending recession–will hit everyone differently. In light of that, everyone should perform their own risk assessment taking into account all of their personal circumstances. A recession and a global pandemic are bad for everyone, but it’s going to be worse for some folks than it is for others. As ever-more cities and states close retail outlets, bars, and restaurants, folks who work in the service and retail industry are going to be especially hard hit. If you foresee losing your job–or if you already have–you should make a decision right now about how extreme you need to be in reducing your spending.
How To Save More Money Right Now
I have a free, 31-day money saving course, called the Uber Frugal Month, which anyone can sign-up for at any time. It’s free and it guides you through a month-long program of how to save more money.
Since we’re staying home–along with a lot of other people–this is the month where we can save in all of the following categories:
- Transportation. Not going anywhere = not buying gas, not buying plane tickets, not buying mass transit passes.
- Entertainment. There’s literally nothing to do. No movies, plays, concerts, or orgies. Just making sure you’re paying attention.
- Bars/restaurants/coffee shops. They are not open, so you can’t go.
- Discretionary shopping. Malls and retail stores are closing, which will limit our shopping capabilities.
How To Stock A Pantry
If you’re still going out to the grocery store, I think now’s the time to stock up on shelf-stable foods. In general, the farther foods are from processing, the cheaper and the more shelf-stable they’ll be. For example, instead of buying a loaf of bread, buy the raw ingredients to bake bread (flour, yeast, etc). While everyone’s tastes and diets differ, there is a truism that buying bulk, raw foods gives you the most flexibility in your cooking and costs less. In stocking up, we focused on things that can be made into lots of different types of meals and that’ll last for awhile in our pantry. Here’s a list of what we bought in case it’s helpful as you craft your list.
Stuff with a long self life that can be cooked into a wide array of meals:
- Dried beans (black, kidney, and garbanzo)
- Flour (whole wheat and all-purpose)
- Baking powder and baking soda
- Yeast (essentially all bread and baking ingredients)
- Shelf-stable grains (brown rice, quinoa, oats, whole wheat pasta)
- Olive oil
- Coffee, tea, wine, and beer
- Peanut butter
- Alliums (onions, shallots, and garlic)
Next up are the things we bought to put in our freezer:
- Frozen vegetables
- Frozen fruits
- Meats that can be frozen (we bought chicken, beef, and salmon, but just about any meat will do fine in the freezer)
- Frozen pizzas
Then, we bought fresh ingredients that’ll last a decent amount of time:
- Citrus (limes, lemons, oranges)
And finally, we bought fresh produce that we’ll need to eat in the first week or so before it goes bad:
- Salad greens
- Red peppers
Then we have the foods we preserved and canned from our garden last summer:
- Tomato sauce
- Apple butter
- Maple syrup
- Dried tomatoes
- Blackberries (in the freezer)
We hope that with the above we’ll be able to avoid going to the grocery store for at least several weeks to a month. I’ll keep you posted on how that plays out.
Keep In Touch
I’ve been trying to post on Instagram every day to keep in touch and to provide our community with a platform for conversation and I’ll try to write here on Frugalwoods as much as I’m able. While today is all Coronavirus all the time, not all of my writing will be on this topic. Know that I’m at home with my two-year-old and four-year-old and probably feeling very much like everyone else: scared, isolated, and wondering how we’re all going to come through this. But I also feel empowered by the things I CAN do right now and I encourage you to identify what you can do to feel as proactive and productive as possible.
It’s not a major hardship for my family and me to self-isolate, which is another reason for our decision to do so. We don’t have ongoing medical conditions that require doctor visits, we don’t have to leave home to work, and so, we’re removing ourselves from the social equation right now. Not everyone has the luxury of staying home, but for those of us that do, I think it makes sense to be one less potentially sick person requiring medical resources, which are likely to become taxed, if the dire and tragic situation in Italy is any indicator. If you can stay home, do it. If you can keep yourself away from other people, do it. You’ll help limit the spread of the virus, which in turn will help preserve precious medical resources, which in turn will keep us all safer.
In a time of uncertainly, one of the best things you can do is have an awareness of your financial situation. Don’t be in denial, don’t hide from it–print it out and come face to face with the decisions you and your family need to make in the coming weeks and months. This isn’t going to be an easy time and it’s not going to be over quickly. Act now to reduce your spending and limit your contact with others so that you can ride this out. We’ll do this together, but not while touching or breathing on each other.
For more information about the Coronavirus global pandemic, here are some reputable resources:
- The World Health Organization: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public
- The Centers for Disease Control: About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- The New York Times (I especially appreciate their podcast, The Daily, which has done a phenomenal job reporting on this topic)
- NPR: a great source for breaking news and information
- Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now
How can Frugalwoods be helpful to you during this uncertain time? What would you like to read about while we weather this storm?
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“Nothing good comes from panicked investing/un-investing.”
Well said. Although since I still work part time I will still be plugging into my 401k as my paychecks come in, but to me that’s kind of like breathing. It’s always there and will always be done.
And I didn’t hoard toilet paper, I hoarded mixed nuts and coffee a bit. With those two things I can work on my businesses from home in perpetuity.
Well said! There is no need to panic. I try to stay at home as much as possible. My company has ordered everybody to work from home. Even the doctors have switched to phone calls in stead of IRL meetings. I’m quite happy this way to contribute my part by soically distancing myself.
Thank you for this post. It is such a good reminder of why being responsible with our money, paying down our debt, having an emergency fund is so important. I appreciate how thoughtfully you have laid everything out. It makes things seem much less overwhelming.
We are also in isolation and it can feel very stressful, but now I am so grateful for all the items I have saved (I’ll be making a paper ripping station today with all the tissue paper and wrapping paper I’ve saved! And we’ve made tube games out of paper towel rolls).
I really appreciate your instagram posts as well. It’s nice to take a minute to read that I’m not alone in all of this.
So thank you for all that you do in keeping our spirits high. 🙂
What is a paper-ripping session? I’m sure I’m not the only one to wonder. And what games are you making up using paper towel rolls? (If you can use toilet paper rolls, all of us must be very well set up for this game!).
Helpful article, but would also like to add that it is okay if you are less frugal right now. Many of my friends are suddenly both working from home with kids, and it’s impossible for them to get through a day with everything done. So frozen meals, take out (no contact delivery), and buying random things online to entertain the kids are happening. And that is okay. So what you can to survive the days of being home all day. I have a baby and don’t have the time to make my own bread, so I bought two loaves last week for $2 each. We have a well stocked pantry and have been eating through it (take out feels risky to me) and I’m looking into grocery delivery vs going to the store for a restock. I’m trying not to freak out as I add things for online shopping to keep baby engrossed and entertained since our playgroups and classes took up so much of our day before. Have to keep your sanity!
Yes! And I totally get the need to maintain sanity with littles at home! I very nearly bought a $200 inflatable bouncy house yesterday in the hopes of entertaining my two-year-old and four-year-old! But, my overarching concern right now is that the economy is bad and likely to get worse. I fear we’re headed into a fairly bad recession and so, shoring up savings right now is what I do to try and feel better about it. Everyone has to choose what’s going to work best for them, I just felt I would be remiss as a financial writer if I didn’t highlight the potential economic spiral we’re headed into. For me, it always comes back to the fact that no one has ever regretted saving more money in a time of crisis. Good luck and hang in there! We hit a point yesterday where both kids were pretending to be cats and were eating popcorn off the floor, so…. I may yet buy that bouncy house!
Yeah, this is also new territory for the kids too with not being able to see friends. Mental health for everyone is important! We’ve done virtual play dates. Trying to be frugal and also trying to keep good mental health and also trying to stay sane. New territory for everyone and it’s so hard.
I say get the bouncy house.
😂😂😂. They don’t need the expensive stuff… Simple imagination keeps them happy. With so much extra time I guess you can get the floors clean enough for them to eat off of. Thanks for the laugh and really great information!!
Get the bouncy house. It’s an investment in your sanity! My older daughter loved hers back in the day.
My parents gifted us the $200 bouncy house for Christmas and we have taken the coffee table out of the living room permanently so we can set up whenever we want…it’s incredible!! The kids love it, their friends love it, and as I look into a future of at least a few weeks of full lockdown (I am in an apartment in a giant city outside the US), I think it will save at least a bit of our sanity. 🙂
without a yard, a bouncy house during lockdown sounds like a NEED not a want! I hope you’ve got ducktape too in case a leak springs 🙂
I agree — also, if you’re able, supporting local businesses (just bought another pass card to our local art studio), continuing membership fees even if you’re not attending, etc.
Also, our local music class (@MusicAtTheBlissful) is hosting daily toddler and baby music classes and asking for donations via Venmo. Happy to support him for putting together this resource. I know I’m fortunate — as of now my family’s salaries haven’t been impacted so we’re able to do this.
Agreed, Julie. I am here with you with three small kids. I am trying to find free online resources and use those that we already have to provide entertainment, but the days are LONG and at some point, we have to cut ourselves a break. I am trying to balance it all but it’s far from easy.
Thank you for a post full of calm and helpful advice. I will be pretty busy at work in the coming weeks, but I love your posts full of advice from your readers (or Facebook group). Frugal things to do at home while everything is closed might be helpful for many readers, especially those who live in the city and are used to going out. For me, I don’t do Instagram, so I would request more photos (glamour shed rocks!).
There are some great things out there on the internet to help entertain children that are also sneaking in education. Mo Willems is offering a daily session for little ones. My great nephew and great niece are loving those. The Cincinnati Zoo is highlighting an animal each day on their Facebook page. This is fun for adults as well and includes an activity for children.
I might also suggest that you consider starting a sourdough starter. It is obviously easier under normal circumstances to start this by borrowing a bit from a neighbor but they can be started from scratch. This is fun, an easy introduction to microbiology for children (as is making kombucha but you have to start with a baby SCOBY) and you can easily find starter maintenance instructions that do not involve constant feedings and throwing out part of the batch. I never throw out starter and, because I keep it in the refrigerator, almost never have to feed it until I am ready to use it.
Thank goodness we have telephones and, in most cases, the internet. I cannot imagine how isolating the 1918 Pandemic must have felt.
I generally agree with your advice regarding frugality but, since my husband’s job is fairly secure, we are planning to order takeout once a week from one of our local restaurants to help them get through this. Our city has done an excellent job of establishing places where children can pick up free lunches each day (it is targeting to children who normally receive free and reduced rate lunches at school but it is not limited to those children) but the network to get groceries and prescriptions for elderly residents who do not want to leave their homes is more informal. As long as it is financially possible (it is for us), picking up some groceries for an elderly neighbor also seems like an excellent use of money to me.
I sense a fellow Cincinnatian here! The Zoo videos are fantastic! I think our Ohio government is being proactive and doing a great job!
New Orleans actually but I am a volunteer keeper at Audubon Zoo. They are keeping us in the loop while the zoo is closed to volunteers and suggested the Cincinnati Zoo’s keeper chats for when we really need our wild animal fix!
I agree, Ohio does seem to be leading the rest of the country on proactive measures. We are considered a hot spot in NOLA so things here are very quiet right now. I hope you are holding up well and staying safe in Cincinnati.
Our governor today closed all spas, hair salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, and the BMV (except for CDL licenses). It will be interesting to see my real hair color! Thanks for the good wishes and stay well! And you should visit our zoo when this is over and meet Fiona!
Our governor today closed all spas, hair salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, and the BMV (except for CDL licenses). It will be interesting to see my real hair color! Thanks for the good wishes and stay well! And you should visit our zoo when this is over and meet Fiona!
I moved away from the Cincy area a year ago. I sure wish I had Skyline & Graeters for comfort food!
I have a recipe for Skyline if you like and you can order Graeter’s online!
I also moved away from Cincy about a year ago and I really, really miss Greaters and the zoo!
Yes! My daughter is online for several of the same sessions. Mo Williams, zoo cams, free kids yoga, etc. Check your local library for an online story time, music sessions etc. Library is closed but offering services. I’m working from home full time but I have found many FREE online resources for my 3rd grader. School sent home some work and a book to read daily, but we need some fun variety. I have also been walking my neighborhood with my husband or a neighbor once or twice a day. Fresh air has helped. I’ve also encouraged my daughter to play outside with just a few neighborhood friends. We are keeping a close, tight circle of playmates right now. I’m happy to find other free activities from others. Two weeks may turn into several weeks at home together.
Thank you for your words, Liz:) I was wondering this morning what is your opinion on all this. If we would all be frugal, this situation would be so much better. One more reason to start now. I realized that I have a tendency to buy a lot of stuff these days since I do not have a clear plan on what I will cook, me and my boyfriend have recently moved together and we haven’t found our rhythm yet in cooking, cleaning, etc. Sharing your shopping list is helpful indeed. Stay safe and good luck with mommy duties, I think it is the hardest job in the world. I am very privileged to share my kid with his grandparents that leave within walking distance from us. Big virtual hug!
I’m in the UK and also self isolating as I have 2 chronic conditions either of which put me in the high risk. I’m lucky because I can’t work anyway, so am used to managing on my disability benefits, and am also used to not leaving the house for days at a time.
One thing I would say, is that if there’s going to be one thing that makes life easier for you it may be worth buying it. I’m thinking of outdoor play equipment for kids or even just restocking on the art supplies. I have been dithering about getting a new outdoor bench as my old (free) one is looking at collapse point. It means I will be able to sit and admire my garden, just to assemble it now.
Also food banks in the UK are really struggling so IF you can afford it, I’m suggesting that people donate part or all of their normal entertainment/petrol budget to their local food bank or other action group. If it hadn’t been for my mum I would have not had enough for me and my kids to eat when we split up which is a horrible situation to be in, so I do what I can to support them.
I have been comforted by my frugality so much over the last few days. We have little debt (just one small car loan and the mortgage – which I just refinanced saving 10 years of payments!) and a large emergency fund that could last us nearly a year. We always cook at home, and waste little food, but it seems all that much more important these days. I’m also trying to use this time to minimize and set items aside for donation or sale and organize closets and the basement.
We are doing the same. I have enough for a month and could stretch it further if needed. I am so low on dish washing liquid that I placed a pick up order for sams club that included it but they cancelled it. I rummaged through old hotel bottles and separated out the shampoos and will use that if needed. I told my husband that I actually went and counted our toilet paper rolls a few days ago before I checked our accounts. I agree, do not sell your stocks and stock funds. My husband and I made a fatal mistake in 1987 on black Monday and sold 5000, yes 5 thousand shares of Telefonos de Mexico. Many of those shares were bought for 25 cent and 50 cent. A big mistake at the time but we had only been in the market a few years and had never seen the massive selling and we had a high interest home loan. I was an Rn at local hospital, my husband was hourly at General Motors. Together we made less than 40000 a year and had a daughter plus my husband had child support for one child to pay. It was very scary time for us. I just encourage young people to sit still. You are healthy with strong young immune systems to weather this and the market will come back, we have witnessed that over and over. Please stay at home and do not go out and infect the older population like my husband and myself. We thank you for that. If the circumstances were reversed, we would gladly stay home for our young population. If anything this will be a wake up call to have emergency money in place, food in the house, gas in the car and books to read. We are the strongest nation out there and we have a strong government with an equally strong president that will see us through this.
I subscribe to the advice that if you don’t know what to do, sometimes it’s OK to do nothing. We’ve left our investments largely untouched because it’s something we won’t be accessing for decades – and so much can happen over the decades. Sometimes it’s best to walk away, especially when it comes to money and emotions!
Love your posts, and it’s great to be reminded that we are not alone in all this. I’m retired and have the luxury of being able to stay home. I have a freezer full of food, and can easily last a month (or more) without restocking. And I live in the city, where we are still able to walk through the nearby dog park and watch the dogs frolicking (now that’s entertainment!). I don’t think this is going to be over anytime soon, unfortunately….
Many fruits and vegetables can be cold storage stable too – Apples, potatoes, radishes, etc, are usually good longer than a week. Cucumbers have had mixed results for me – nothing more depressing than throwing something out during a social distance. 🙁
Great post, but I would like to suggest that those who can should think about strategically spending more than normal to help local, small businesses. My husband and I are fortunate to be in fairly recession proof jobs. We normally cook all meals at home in the interest of saving money and only eat out on special occasions. We are currently essentially in lock down so we could easily continue to cook at home. However, we don’t financially have to so we’ve consciously decided to pick local, non chain restaurants to order no-contact delivery over the next two weeks. It’s our way of showing support for those businesses least equipped to weather this type of storm and try to help them get through to the other side. I’m hoping we’re not alone in this as we obviously cannot make a significant difference single- handed.
So many people are concerned right now because they don’t have a financial cushion so those who do (and are comfortable with it), I hope take this opportunity to buy that cute Etsy item or pick up from that hole-in-the-wall as a way to support them as we all navigate through this crazy time.
We are doing the same thing. We generally eat out once a month, but have been ordering takeout from our local restaurants for driveby pickup weekly. Plus it’s a special treat for us since we’re not seeing friends at school, work, etc.!
We plan to do the same simply because we are able. We are saving a lot in groceries by eating a lot of meals from our freezer/pantry but I really feel for the local businesses. We will order carry out a few times more than usual.
I think this is important – and something I’m considering doing. More critical in our area that’s closed all restaurants and is (was) heavily reliant on tourism are the food banks. I’m actually considering setting up a weekly deposit to the food bank instead.
Thank you for this post – we’re mostly isolated and I’m so thankful that both I and my husband have the option to work from home, plus the space to comfortably do so.
One thing I’d add: remember that many in your community are suffering right now, and think of ways that you can help out. Businesses are shuttering and slashing hours and the gig economy has slowed, so people who rely on hourly wages and tips are losing their incomes. Often those incomes were low enough that those same people aren’t able to go a month or more without work. Schools closing means many families are losing free lunches.
What you can do:
– support local organizations like food pantries that are trying to distribute food and meds to people who need it
– send money to people you know who need help (single parents, college students who live on their own, anyone who works in a service industry)
– pressure the state and federal government to make unemployment and other forms of financial assistance available to a wider variety of people
– see what your school district needs to distribute food and call your state government to advocate for resources for them
– advocate for your local government to stop eviction hearings until this is over, because throwing people out on the street is going to make all of this worse
This is a time for looking out for our communities, and it’s important to remember that those of us with the privilege of extra money need to advocate for the people who will be hurt most by this epidemic and the recession that will likely follow.
I agree! We usually bring food donations to church for the local food pantry but church is now cancelled as well! I gave an online donation this time instead. I’m happy to see the local school system is delivering meals to children in need at 52 locations in my county alone! They will get 3 meals a day when they usually receive assisted meals at school. These types of programs are usually saved for summer.
I think how you approach this depends on where you live. The Frugalwoods live on a big farm, I personally live in a rural area, on the water with access to boats and nature. Those environments make it easier to continue on with alot of freedom of movement. I can’t imagine living in a studio apt in NYC, and having to stay isolated. I don’t follow the stock up plan, but we do live pretty frugally for an American family. My whole family is on the frontlines of this, I work in a nursing home part time, my husband is essential personnel for our local government, and my son is a first responder. We go to work, come home, I’m trying to only shop at my very small local grocery store (in a small rural town)
Gretel, big hugs to you and your family for being on the front lines!
Also this is a great time to safely social distance outside if possible. Our neighborhood never sees a lot of foot traffic and I’ve seen tons of people walking lately. A positive light in this darker time! My mom and I are planning to go hiking at a 6 ft radius. 😛
Yes, perhaps people will use this time to walk, bicycle, yoga, jog in place, etc and lose those 25 to 50 pound fat stores and become healthier. Just reminded my granddaughter to try not to get pregnant as we do not know with certainty the effects of this on fetus. I saw that babies are being born normal but nothing of course about being exposed yet in the first trimester. Will need to find other form of entertainment😳
A lovely calm post. Our media are going crazy – with 24hour reporting repeating the info ad infinitum.
A cupboard love cookery slot would be fun? Readers could submit their fave recipes from store cupboard ingredients.
Keep in mind that “media” (by this you probably are criticizing TV) are essential services in times of crisis. I’ve worked at a newspaper for 35 years and we are almost like hospitals: we never close down. Every day of the week and holidays, someone is working.
That said, as a parent and human, I always advise people to be careful about what they consume and how often: No one needs TV news on all the time. It just causes anxiety. (For me, the noise of background TV itself causes anxiety.)
Check reliable, online sites maybe once or twice a day. It is important to be an informed citizen without upping one’s anxiety level.
Also, if you have the resources, it’s OK to buy for friends and family who don’t right now. If you know someone needs something but can’t buy it, have it sent to them if you can afford it. I’ve sent one of my older relatives some things so that 1) I know he has what he needs and 2) he knows I’m thinking of him and caring for him even if I can’t see him right now.
Spring break has descended on our beaches in a decadent, all-out sort of way which is beyond terrifying as we already have documented positive cases here. Afraid things are about to go from bad to worse. We’re self-isolating here in FL too. We’re stocked for a month or more, not leaving even to go to the grocery store. I already work for myself and hubby is now working from home. Kids are home through April 15, probably longer honestly. You are so right that if you can stay home right now, taking yourself and your family out of circulation helps everyone who can’t.
Oy, spring break. Those kids think they’re immortal. I’m so sorry this is happening.
Great article, and I’m glad you’re all staying safe and healthy! I would add, do an inventory of what you already have in the house and make a list based on what you still need to have, then do your best. Last week I inventoried our bathroom cabinet and discovered a cache of OTC’s that haven’t expired so I don’t need to buy more, also another thermometer, go me. Many of the stores are picked clean of shelf-stable products and cleaning supplies so this is a do-your-best area, but be aware of any price gouging and decide if you really really really need that item or not. By example, we don’t actually need rubbing alcohol for DIY hand sanitizer, we just need to use soap and water. Probably just as well as rubbing alcohol could be used as currency now.
One other thing I would spring money for if necessary would be for upgraded Zoom/Skype/Webex/etc capability to stay in touch with loved ones as well as work; ditto for upgrading internet if needed (glad now my son needs good internet for online gaming and his social contacts…). My company just bought a site license for Zoom so we can all use it and is encouraging us as we work from home to stay in touch socially as well as for virtual meetings and work. This sort of thing will be very important to stay emotionally healthy, which in turn will help prevent poor choices like “retail therapy” (ugh) to feel better.
Stay safe and healthy everyone!
A great video on his NYT piece about what China did right…”fever clinics.”
Great reminders, thanks! As far as children staying home from school how about using this as an opportunity to teach them to sew, cook, craft, clean, garden, etc. I’m not saying make them do these things all day long, but interspersed through out this time of social distancing. I believe my love of sewing and gardening will help me during this time.
You talked about stocking up like there’s food on the shelves…. Our grocery store had piles of potato chips, but literally not a single grain of rice or bottle of oil or package of yeast. We’re hoping the store restocks soon, or a lot of people will be hungry.
We are trying to to go out but I do have a medical condition so though I am trying not to I am having to go out been trying since Monday to isolate but every day something comes up and my illness makes me a higher risk and I do not have a job but I need to buy gas with zero funds to buy it to get to docs and pharmacy and my daughter is I’ll but I think her exposure to the virus is super Uber low I need to take her to the doctor. Thanks for the post I needed to read it hopefully tomorrow we can actually self isolate
Although I agree heartily with all the ideas on here, I also think it might also be a time to be rather less frugal -in a focussed way. Small businesses and shops are at risk of going under and this might be exactly the moment to splash out on a full-price book from an independent bookshop or buy a new dress from a small boutique or even an online shop that employs lots of people who are terrified of losing their job. My hairdresser was in tears at the prospect of losing everything she’s spent years building up – when this is over, we need (for a while) to be getting more blow dries than usual rather than fewer. Amazon are going to be the big winners if we’re not careful to look after the small suppliers.
Please remember, a lot of small businesses sell on Amazon. Also, Amazon just announced yesterday that unless we are selling essentials. We cannot send any inventory to Amazon to participate in their prime shipping until after 4/5 at this point. So if your looking to order something and your sorting by Prime only, click that off and you’ll find more products that are being fulfilled directly by small companies. The worst that will happen is you may have to pay shipping.
There is a great video great for everyone – including kids (I have 3) on a simple trick to not touch your face and wash your hands by memory champion Nelson Dellis (he has so many other awesome videos too) – it involves a sharpie and making dots on either side of both hands! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_aYu2sPEJ8
Okay, Liz, I know you and your husband have got to have some tips for working at home with the little ones. Help! I had 6 video conference calls with my team yesterday, and my 4-year-old has been great with it, but I know it won’t last. I’ll be working remotely now through spring, and it’s looking like we’ll be lucky if schools reopen in the fall actually. Is it time for a new reader tips article on this topic? Thank you for your good work right now!
Hahah, ok yes! I will try and put something together! I only had one child escape her father and run screaming from the bath into my conference call the other day. The good news is that it was not a video call. We count our blessings here.
Thank you! 😊 On the bright side, our dog is thrilled with this “sheltering in place” idea.
Good advise, but right now I can’t stay home. My husband is in hospital so I go once a day to check on him and a short visit. He’s on full isolation protocol. Fine by me. It’s not related in any way to COVID19 but to a previous condition. As those that did the last ultra frugal challenge know, he has Amyloidosis AL. His being where he is means I’m paying for parking to see him as well as increased gas costs to drive there as he is currently in a large teaching hospital 45 minutes drive from home thanks to a medical emergency last Monday. He’s stable now but very weak. He will. Be transported back to our home hospital in the next few days, hopefully.
So far as groceries and such go, we’ve been working with a low income for a long while now. I checked hubby’s meds as things were starting to get scary, so he is OK on those, minus whatever changes the doctors make in the hospital. If I see something we consider a staple here on sale I will, grab some. I got groceries last Friday for perishables and such. Between the pantry and freezers, we will, be fine for a while. A couple of the OTC meds we go through just happened to be on sale a couple of weeks ago, I got an extra bottle of each. We’re good now.
My late father has a fair amount invested here and there but it cant really be touched as we are still waiting on Probate court on the estate. I’m fine with things just sitting there. Nothing I can do anyway and I’m old enough to have been through this before. The market will, recover eventually, I can ride this roller coaster out. Hang on there folks!
Good Morning, I am an ER doctor in the center of one of the major outbreaks. In addition, I am a mother of a 2 year old and 4 month old. I have the luxury of having my husband take some time off so he can 1. Not infect others in case I bring it home and 2. Help watch my children as I flex to the system and spend longer hours at work and see telehealth patients from home. I can’t stay home with my 4 month old and I am breast feeding with fingers crossed. Meaning im pumping at work. I think the frugalwoods brings some aspects of life to light that will keep us going. Stay home, enjoy your family, eat sustainable foods, be frugal, and enjoy any fresh air you can get away from others. It’s a good time to step back and remember what is important to you. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Becca, for the heroic work you’re doing to help others. We appreciate the personal sacrifices you are making to ensure the health of your patients. Thank you!
Indeed, thank you Becca, and all those health care staff from the docs all the way through maintenance and housekeeping, and food services. You, indeed, are our true heroes. Thank you.
And thanks for a great and timely post, Elizabeth.
Would love a post on how you keep two little ones occupied while you both work full time. Our daughter is 5 years old, so we are trying to keep her Pre-K schedule and learning going while we are both suddenly working from home. Any advice you have would be appreciated by many of us since you have been living this life for awhile. Thanks!!
I feel very privileged in that my husband and I both have jobs that have closed but will pay us as usual during this time. I know not everyone has that and I feel for those who will miss paychecks. As an introvert, I am loving the time at home to create, go for a walk, and get things done around the house (yesterday I updated the budget spreadsheet, I too get excited about nerding out over finances). I hope everyone is safe and healthy.
This is a very sensible and comprehensive list of advice, thank you! I’m very glad I have a small emergency fund but I do intend to grow it bigger now. I’m lucky to be still working, albeit at home.
I didn’t get in on the TP rush. I am just doing my normal weekly shopping, trying to do it in the less busy times. Other than that, sheltering in so as not to get it or be a carrier and give to someone else. I did get a few extras and plan to get some dried beans-definitely garbanzos to make hummus.
Thanks so much for your encouragement, sanity, and wealth of resources and suggestions. I was terribly sad not to be able to attend my religious congregations in person but relieved for the radio broadcast and quick setting up of other media access, along with an active email network of friends and acquaintances. I had not fully realized how crucial some of these connections have become in my life.
A reminder to keep or increase safe contact with those who may be most vulnerable during restriction of visitors or access. Those in hospitals and nursing homes, assisted living facilities and prisons, for example, may benefit greatly from reminders that we are supporting them as we are able. Think of brief phone calls, handwritten notes or cards, sending DVDs or CDs if there is appropriate equipment. Just thinking as well of those in the armed forces, National Guard, postal service, grocery stores that remain open… How about a brief note of thanks and good wishes to the local hospital or medical facility. And those local businesses, operations, schools, performance/arts groups that have had to cancel. Just an idea. Use judgement so as not to flood email or the phone lines as we want to keep clear the media that need to respond quickly to those in need. Maybe you have a collection of unused postage stamps and can use an activity for children and teens to draw a picture to send with a thank you or thinking of you or good health. Outline your hand, use smiley faces or stickers, be creative. There are also online resources for keeping kids from getting bored on a rainy day. Maybe a thank you note to your local mail carrier and post office. You get the idea.
Take good care, everyone, and thank you for contributing what is uniquely you! To good health and spirits for all!
On drawing pictures: we have been sending “prompts” to our 5-year old grandson for things to draw; then his Mom takes a picture of it and sends it to us. (We were going to send them through the mail, but that gets expensive!). Things like “Draw a picture of a pet you’d like to have” or “Draw a picture of an amazing dragon.” He loves to draw, so this is a no-brainer.
As a high school teacher in Vermont and my husband and I are both over 60, we face many challenges at this time. The most unexpected was food poisoning from undercooked beans! As the shelves emptied at our grocery store, I bought the last of some dried beans, although I usually use canned. I soaked them for about 18 hours, then used them in my Instapot chili recipe. I increased the time four-fold because they weren’t softening. I decided to eat the chili anyway. BIG mistake. Food poisoning for my 21 year old daughter and me. Numerous sites such as this one https://www.statefoodsafety.com/Resources/Resources/toxic-beans explain why. As I’ve talked with colleagues about my experience, NO ONE knows about this.
Meanwhile, I look forward to our new frugality, and my daughter and I are both “nesting” with home offices for distance learning, distance teaching, and her internship completing tax returns.
I’m curious. How are you all continuing to work with your kids out of daycare and school?
Uh, not well? We’re still figuring out a daily routine that works for all four of us, so I’ll keep you posted!!
It is so tough isn’t it! We haven’t figured it out either.
there’s plenty to do – walk, bike, hike, outdoor sports that are inherently socially distant like golf/driving range, shovel snow, plant/prune/trim/landscape, read, games/puzzles, write, create art, play instrument, learn something new, volunteer/trash removal, park and stream/beach cleaning, check on senior/deliver to them, home maintenance, reassess/self-introspection. It’s a global plot twist. What new normals are you creating that you want to sustain? I can’t wait to see what else upticks, downticks, and improves as a result (crime, mass shootings, pollution/carbon emissions, relationships, commuting, waste, etc.)
My catch-up 401k contributions just started, so yay! Um, we are also being a little less frugal right now. There’s rumor of no school till fall, my kids are in 8th and 2nd grades. Things we are being less than frugal about:
– We are paying our cleaning service, even though we canceled
– We are paying our YMCA membership, even though we aren’t going and they just closed
– We have to go buy an office chair for working from home.
– Our oven is on the fritz. We were going to buy a new one. It may be sooner now.
– We are spending more on food – if I can buy eggs, I’m buying eggs. I don’t care what it costs. I ordered gluten free bread online. I may start up with butcher box. We have two produce box deliveries, and I’ve increased what I get from them.
– We are actually going to START getting takeout once or twice a week, to keep our favorite restaurants (that we go to 2-3x a year) in business.
This situation will definitely cause many people rethink the way they live and hopefully how they handle money. The good news is that the COVID virus that is going around can have virtually no symptoms on 86% of the population. The bad news for the people that have health issues of compromised immune systems, lung diseases like COPD, emphysema, and asthma, heart disease, diabetes and obesity, the virus will have a more serious impact.
I read that a 102 year old woman in China contracted the virus and she recovered, so age is not the primary factor.
The one thing that is not being discussed is that 70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and that they face serious financial consequences in not being able to pay their rent/mortgage, utilities, buy groceries, etc., because of their choices. So a 2-3 week quarantine is going to have devastating consequences to small businesses and their employees. The closing of schools also puts parents in a tough spot that have counted on the children being in schools so they can work. It is estimated that 35-40% of the health care workers will not being able to go to work, putting additional pressure on the healthcare system as well as the logistics chain to supply the grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as other consumer essentials.
And being the government planners believe that to really control the virus spread, a full year of social distancing would be required. So there is no easy solution to this situation. Any actions will have consequences. There is no win-win situation in dealing with the virus.
Hi Mrs FW, timely post as usual, thank you!
It strikes me that the creativity and planning that underpin frugality are going to put its practitioners in a stronger position to weather the likely devastation.
Having been an avid reader from your early days, the one thing I’ve always said NO WAY to was home haircuts. Well, now we’ve ordered some clippers and I’m absolutely terrified of having to cut my husbands hair. I must re-read your post on it!!!
Hahah, home haircuts aren’t that scary! I promise!! Plus, if you’re quarantined, no one will see the results for awhile 😉
😂That would be good- Unfortunately my husband is a healthcare professional so doing a lot of overtime!!! He’ll be turning 50 at the expected peak of the U.K. outbreak, so photos might need to be carefully planned if I cause any bald patches…
Erin, your husband could always wear a scrub hat to cover any bald patches!
Thank you for advising readers to stay home! I’m a nurse and we have coronavirus around us, so it’s very real to us. While we don’t have the privilege of working from home, we certainly appreciate those who do stay home to help limit this virus. We realize it’s difficult to stay home indefinitely, but is there really a better place to be, especially during a time like this?
And, yes, frugality certainly helps. I’ve written about the fun we had this past weekend by practicing our usual habits and not feeling the hit of this social distancing. For those who live alone, though, this time is especially difficult for them, so please reach out to them and chat for a bit to help reduce their loneliness. Loneliness is deadly.
I have purchased investments both within and outside my usual 403b contributions, but I usually do anyway. I just added more than usual this week. I don’t need the cash that was sitting on hand and feel it will do better in the market over the long haul.
Katie, thank you so much for your service as a nurse. I deeply appreciate all that you’re sacrificing to help others. Thank you.
We’ve been stocking up on food for the new few weeks and the main grocery stores in our area have been predictably mobbed. But we found that Asian and Mexican grocery stores have been much less crowded, and they tend to have a lot of staples like rice and beans, plus meat to freeze.
The paradox of an oncoming recession is that individuals and families want to hoard their money just at the time when it’s crucial to spend or invest it to stimulate the economy. If you’re on the financial edge, then by all means save as much as you can to prepare for a possible job loss. But if you are financially stable with adequate savings, consider spending money if you can – buying gift certificates at local stores is a good way to do this in the short-term. This especially applies to any stimulus checks that the government might send our way. Save some if you must, but spend if you can.
I deeply appreciate the calm and encouragement in this post. Like others have mentioned, we can practice frugality while also using our financial privilege to help others. You’ve mentioned giving in some if your previous posts which has been so helpful. I hope you’ll consider updating this one to include a section on donating/mindful spending to support our neighbors in need.
Yes! I couldn’t include everything in one post. More to come soon!
I go from one extreme to the next with my emotions! It is so natural to have all these feelings. I remain calm when talking to my grown children who have blessed us with 4 little Granddaughters. We will get through this. We are stronger than we realize. I stay sane preparing the best we can. (Will be so happy once my husband is not going to office starting next Monday since he has diabetes). I have never been as happy having my pantry full which I started last year with an already early retirement looming for us. I do not hoard now, take one. leave for others. I am so thankful to have frugal blogs like yours to count on for tips and ideas. I will pray, crochet, read, start some seeds, take a walk while we can, do yoga, puzzles, meditate, Pray, FaceTime, try new recipes, work on new budget, watch favorite movies and tv shows (2.99 a month deal for 6 months Hulu), clean, organize, work in yard, have glass of wine on screened in porch end of day with hubby, help neighbors and others, CHECK UP on elderly family members, listen to Music, pod casts, audio books and did I say PRAY. God Bless you, your family and your readers.
Lol, when you said “don’t touch your money” for some reason I interpreted it literally. Which is probably good advice since money is filthy.
Thanks for the timely post. I’m waiting to see how work plays out to see if I can just stay home.
Best of luck to you and your family 🙂
My kids are still in daycare (pediatrician OKayed it), so I’m exposed to a lot of people through them, but I am working from home to avoid as many people as possible. My husband works in a research lab working on Coronavirus tests, so he has to go to work.
We are grocery shopping with the idea that we always have a week more than we need. Even the countries with complete shut downs (Italy) they can still get to the grocery store. I have two months of baby formula on hand, as the baby has 2 months until he is 1. Earlier this year though I had 6 months stock, so this is actually low. That’s the only think I “panic bought” though, as we were down to just 2 weeks worth.
I couldn’t find the baby wipes I normally use, so my stock is going to daycare, and at home we are using cloths and water. Works just as well, saves a tree.
I have not looked at my investments. I don’t want to know how much money we’ve lost. Probably more than the cost of our house. But we are still doing our automatic investments. It came down to “do we think the US economy will recover before we retire” yes. And well, if it doesn’t (30 years from now) – there are much bigger problems.
I know that any company that goes bankrupt we lose the stock, so I’m not quite sure how that works; but again, if that happens en masse, there are bigger problems, and I’m probably still better off than people who had no investment savings in the first place.
Pantry creativity and avoiding food waste are two things I usually enjoy and am putting extra emphasis on now. Also the final push to trying a home haircut on my husband sometime soon. He has full confidence about it…I am grateful that his work-from-home involves only text and voice, not video!
Go for it, Erin! I think my husband has only had two “professional” haircuts in the 50 years we’ve been married. I used to cut it with scissors & clippers, but when we retired in AZ, he wanted a shorter, easier cut that didn’t need any blow-drying, so it’s all clippers (#2 & #1 guards only) now–a sort of buzz cut. He loves it, and so do I! There are lots of instructive videos on YouTube, I would imagine.
Inspiring! Great way to be thrifty.
Ideally everyone would be frugal in boom times and spenders in bust times. Our restaurant industry and every worker whose livelihood depends on it (in Seattle) is completely wrecked. If I come into extra money, I’m reinvesting it into my community.
Exactly. But it goes against our nature. But NOT spending is what is causing the stock market and economy to crash.
We live in South Africa so about to go into winter, and we’ve just gone into lockdown with our president banning all gatherings of over a 100 people.
My partner is a musician and so winter has come very early and hard, with almost all his gigs being cancelled.
We had planned for winter, so have some savings but we didn’t plan for a complete indefinite shutdown.
All the musicians I know across the globe are suffering, no touring, no gigs means no income, this is affecting everyone no matter where you live and how big you’ve “made it”, but there is something we can all do to keep the music alive
If you have a bit of money in your entertainment budget please think about supporting your favourite musician on Patreon, or at least paying to download their music. Check out their online gigs and contribute if you can,
if you have brought tickets and the event is cancelled think about not asking for a refund but donating the price of the ticket to the artists so that they can survive this downturn.
Well said. I have a lot of artist and freelancer friends who are suffering right now, much more than those of us with more 9-5-ish jobs.
I’ve been sharing around this link with resources for freelance artists in the hopes that something there will help: https://covid19freelanceartistresource.wordpress.com/
Hard to stock food unless it is dried ones. I live in 4 living units place and I only have a refrigerator which holds my frozen fruits and vegetables; however, I do batch cooking as well which limits the amount of frozen food that I can store.
We’ve only been self quarantining for a few days…seems longer LOL… Mom is 88 and in the fragile health group. We were traveling Mar 4-8 and went through some places with known COVID-19 infection so we decided to shut ourselves down. I am cooking more and making things we haven’t had in a while. We need to eat our leftovers before I make anything else! I’m going to be making some hot n sour soup and miso soup and freezing some for future use. We have a freezer full of bread and meat and fruit. Canned goods galore. 2 gallons of frozen milk, 1 fresh, and 3 quarts shelf stable almond milk. The only thing we’re going to run out of is eggs (1 dozen is all we have) and the store was wiped out of all types of eggs the last 2 weeks because of all the panic shoppers. We ordered TP from Staples (who knew!) and actually got twice as much as I thought I was ordering so it was a really good deal. I keep remembering all the end of times movies I’ve seen…hopefully I won’t break my glasses and not be able to read all the books in the world now that I finally have the time. LOL
Ahhh…my favorite Twilight Zone episode.
I certainly don’t plan on being thoughtless with my money but now is really the time to spend locally more than usual *if you can*.
Last night we got takeout from a local restaurant that just opened doors for business last weekend, and is already closed for dine-in service after only a few days. Later this month I am ordering a book from a bookstore that just opened last weekend as well and is already closed for the foreseeable future. They are doing curbside pick up.
We have a lot of food shortages here, so we are making do with what we had already, and what we are able to get from the store. Fortunately we already had a full container of baby formula plus one that we had just opened, so we should be able to get through that shortage OK, I hope. We are certainly getting creative with what we’re eating! A site I really recommend is https://www.budgetbytes.com/
Strange times indeed.
Yes! I agree. This is one of those times when I REALLY wish we could get take-out where we live. Alas, not a possibility for us. But we did go to a bunch of restaurants the week before we quarantined ourselves (and it was my birthday, so we ordered more than normal).
Happy birthday! You’ll probably never forget this year’s birthday and hopefully never have another one like it!
So agree! Let’s be lean and efficient with our resources, but generous with our money, especially for those businesses that create community where we live.
Just curious. How are you and your husband working with two little ones at home? It’s a major challenge for all of us.
“…or orgies. Just making sure you’re paying attention.” 😀 cute.
Have you seen the memes on the coming baby boom?
HAHAH, yep. Although my friends and I who have toddlers all think it’ll be first babies ;)!
Hah! Exactly—my husband was all, “How will people have time to make new babies?” And I had to remind him that …. not everyone has a toddler. 🙂
Probably also a divorce boom. Couples cope differently.
I found it reassuring reading your “don’t touch it” advice. Although days like today make it tough. Like you, I am young-ish with a family and a riskier class of assets in my portfolio.
On that note, you didn’t mention anything about adding to a portfolio? I imagine (or at least I tell myself) there should be a tremendous buying opportunity around the corner, no?
Thanks for the post!
Well said. We got serious about our finances just 3 years ago. We no longer have debt except our mortgage. What we now have is MARGIN in our budget and that’s such a relief always, but especially in times like these.
Wanted to add in case people don’t know this. It’s possible to regrow lettuce inside your home in a glass of water. You’ll also need sunlight /growing lamp. It’s probably true for other green leaves as well.
This way you can have fresh green salad for a longer period than a week.
It works with celery, too, just put the root end of the bunch in water – but the stuff that sprouts has a strong flavor – more suited for soups than for salads.
I’m glad I took your advice a couple of years ago to build up a large emergency fund. My husband and I own a restaurant in Sydney, Australia, so if the government decides to shut down restaurants over here, we’ll have no income for a while. Luckily we have no debt and have enough savings to ride out 18 months if we had to (we were saving for a down payment, but that is on hold for now until things settle down a bit.)
Great article, thanks Liz!
This Washington Post article was informative and the graphics really help you understand how the virus spreads and the importance of social distancing and self quarantining if possible. Hope everyone stays safe.
Hi Liz! Really enjoyed reading this article, found it very reassuring to know that there are people out there taking themselves out of circulation if they can. I was wondering if you could let us would-be homesteaders know how you’re planning your veggie garden for the upcoming year? Will the Coronavirus change your plans? I feel like I’m itching to plant waaaaay more than usual just becuase it helps me deal with the overwhelm. We’re on mandatory isolation over here in France, and it’s funny how different everyone’s reaction to the situation is—everything from the President saying “We are at war” over and over again like a total bonehead and teenagers roaming the (empty) streets in groups, giddy from not having to be in school. I’ve more or less given up on the concept of work with the baby girl at home, but luckily the weather’s been gorgeous so we’ve all been out in the yard, fussing around. I hope you all make it through sane and healthy! Take care.
Hahaha, I just had shockingly bad timing for my finances. I accepted a job at the big city public library near me, which has a residency requirement so I moved (from a nearby town that’s part of the metro area to a neighborhood in the city proper) this week. It used up basically all the savings that I had painstakingly built up during my time in graduate school and in the months since I graduated last May. Worth it to hire professionals to do it and save my back and the backs of my friends, but it was not inexpensive. And then literally the day after my move all the libraries closed.
I’m also in the position of moving from a mostly communal/cooperative type household to one with all separate groceries and things, so I am rebuilding my pantry almost entirely from scratch, which is also not an inexpensive endeavor, especially with my savings as depleted as they are.
I think I’ll be all right for the moment, but it’s a blow to have to spend money right in the middle of all this. At the very least, I know I’m not backing a Kickstarter I’m very tempted by. I definitely don’t have the money for that.
Completely agree with all your points. One note, though, as we just finished our taxes … we had been planning a rebalancing of our shorter-term portfolio anyway and decided to sell some funds now to buy the other funds, deliberately harvesting a chunk of losses that will be useful come April 15, 2021.
We were in college and not investors in 1980s but ended up losing close to 6 figures in the 2008 stock market downturn. Knowing we do not have state, federal or any pensions to lean back on and seeing how things were going in China, South Korea and Italy we took our money out and put it into money markets. Thankful we only lost a small percentage. Going forward using dollar cost averaging approach we are starting to buy into market again to not only buy low but help stimulate market by adding money into it. We are less than 12 years from retirement with 4 kids in/close to college. We needed to count on our nest egg so we could help them but also not be a burden on them going forward.
So important to look at, know well and assess your own situation.
I agree with the post from Rachel above, where she writes its important to assess one’s situation. I’m turning 65 this month (still working) and have many older friends who just lost a lot of their retirement funds in the market. This is very difficult when one is in their senior years…there may not be enough time left for them to recoup their losses. And inflation isn’t doing them any favor, especially in terms of health care…
The idea that people working at home who have children “need” to buy convenience foods or carry out is crazy. Buy a crockpot for $20. Google crockpot recipes. Everything cooks itself unattended. 4 to 6 hours later you have cheap “convenience” food. I have 7 days of recipes. Every Monday I serve bean and rice burritos, Tuesday is Chili over rice, Wednesday is breakfast for dinner, Thursday is potroast, Friday is pizza. (I have a no knead pizza dough recipe. Just pat it into pan), Saturday veggie burgers or hamburgers, Sunday is Crockpot chicken. We eat leftovers for luck. Key is make a plan. Automate it by doing same plan each week. Happy cooking!
One of the pluses is that my lovely gentleman caller alleviates his stress by baking me bread! This week I’ve gotten a loaf of sourdough and a loaf of oatmeal walnut maple bread!
How do you feel about buying used during this time? My husband and I have our first baby due in two months, and our baby shower just cancelled due to covid. While I still anticipate that some friends/ family will get us gift cards or gifts, I’d been originally planning on trying to second-hand source some of the early essentials that we weren’t gifted. However, we don’t have any friends with young children– so we’d be trying to arrange pick-ups with complete strangers, and I’m feeling anxious about leaving the house for non-essential reasons and even about the potential of the virus transmitting on baby items (and am acutely aware that this situation might drag on until my due date). Is this a time to ‘compromise’ and source the basics new/ delivered straight to the house?
Hi Frugalwoods! I have a question. I am ready to retire at the end of this year but now as my investments have been hit hard (like most people) I am thinking of working at least another year until 67. What is your take on this idea?
If you were contemplating a Roth IRA conversion, and can afford to do it (which means not paying taxes out of your retirement investment money) – while the market is down is the time to do it.