Welcome to Better Have My Money, my weekly newsletter about investing and feelings… but is anyone thinking about anything that is not the ‘rona right now?
I wrote last week “Everything feels a little bit scary right now, even if you’re not a particularly anxious person” and in one week, I feel like that’s morphed to “everything feels a lot scary right now, and we’re all anxious.”
Here in New York, bars and restaurants are shut (although to-go orders are available at some), gyms are closed, schools are closed and everyone is staying inside and only going on occasional walks and trips to the supermarket (and if you’re doing more, please… go home).
Quarantining might be cutting down on going-out costs but it is expensive to stock up and buy large amounts of groceries at once. I’ve spent hundreds in the last week or so trying to stock my cupboards and fridge, as a single person who lives alone, and that’s while making sure I’m not taking more than I need.
I spent today speaking with a lot of hospitality and service workers for a BuzzFeed News story who, very suddenly, found themselves without an income — and the ability to pay for health insurance — and are terrified and uncertain of what comes next.
It reminded me a lot about the need for a fuck layoffs fund. That is, an emergency fund for when something — like say, a global pandemic that you’d barely been considering a week ago — suddenly leaves you unemployed and with no jobs in your field for the foreseeable future.
It’s hard because working from home (if you’re lucky enough for it to be an option) also gives people the shoppies, so I can understand it can be hard to save.
But it makes a really big difference to have a buffer. Having 3-6 months worth of an emergency fund can be the difference between spiraling into debt or being able to cope with a sudden criss. And right now, everything feels like a bit of a crisis. If you haven’t got savings aside already, get your credit card debt paid off and start it.
And not everything is bad! There are also ways you can use your money to help the community and make everything feel a bit better. Lots of local restaurants are offering gift certificates right now, as a way of ensuring money for them in this lean time.
Check if your local bar is doing a virtual tip jar or Venmo for staff that you can send money too. New Yorker writer Helen Rosner has been posting great merchandise options from cafes and restaurants across the country on her Instagram that you can purchase in order to support them.
Keep paying your gym membership, if you can, and check that staffers are being paid. Support your local supermarkets and bodegas. Buy from small stores online, rather than Amazon, which is so inundated with orders it is hiring 100,000 new workers (bleak!).
It is the local businesses that really make a neighborhood — the book store, the local cocktail spot, your fave coffee shop, the taco truck — so make sure you’re supporting them as much as you can.
Also, stocks are really cheap right now. (You could also see it as that all your investments are currently worth… very little, but I’m trying to be positive). If you want to make long-term investments, well, it’s probably a decent time.
Airline stocks in particular (American Airlines, Boeing, Jet Blue), seem to be an absolute bargain, if I had some extra cash, I would probably pick up a few. Hotel sites like Bookings and Expedia are also way, way, down.
Travel will, eventually, pick up again. Everything will, eventually, pick up again. This too shall pass.
Things getting me through self-isolation: the new Slack of my neighborhood which is everyone being kind to each other, the Headspace app which offers great meditations, the Aaptiv app which is perfect for at-home workouts, and also remembering how I’m quite useful at cooking for myself.
Sending you all some calming deep breaths and a call for my parents to f*cking stay inside,
Better Have My Money is on Twitter @bhavemymoney, so please tweet nice things (aka the link to our sign up page) and tag us. Got a mate who panic bought everything? Forward this onto them and tell them to subscribe.
And shameless referral code time! You can use my referral code to get a free stock when you sign up to Robinhood, which has free trading. If you open an account with Ellevest using this link, we both get $20. And sign up to Acorns here and we both get $5. As always, if you've got any questions about stocks, this is a shame free zone. Just reply and ask away.