As we give our time, as suggested by PM Modi, to social isolation for the next few weeks or more, here are some ways by which we can reduce our own anxiety towards our finances.
These are strange and uncertain times that we live in. And while we don’t completely know or understand the full impact of the virus to our health, the resultant impact of it on the economy, business and our personal finances is now becoming a cause for significant stress.
This pandemic of an unprecedented nature that we face in the first quarter of 2020 isn’t in isolation to the many perils that have already gripped the local and global economy in recent months. Financial challenges, liquidity crises, serious market fluctuations, oil wars, unearthing frauds, climate change pressures, technological disruptions, political uncertainty and more, have already made us into a more fragile humanity at the start of the second decade of the 21st century.
Our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, in his recent address said that we need two key skills to be able to navigate these challenging times: Resolve and Restraint.
In a consumer-driven economy, being told to stay in and not engage, impacts many services-oriented industries, people centered operations, small businesses and not to mention freelance, gig and most critically daily wage laborers.
As we give our time, as suggested by the PM, to social isolation for the next few weeks or more, here are some ways by which we can reduce our own anxiety towards our finances:
1. Focus on You
It is important for us to remember to stay in the present and prioritize our own physical, emotional and mental health during this time. The more we stress about the future, the more we build up cortisol in our systems and weaken our brain functioning, immunity and much more that can have a serious longer-term impact. By adopting a rational and solution-oriented mindset we can then build the requisite resilience and agility to be able to manage all that these shifting times bring us. So, use this time at home to reflect, engage and focus on our individual development. This is the perfect time to begin that immunity boosting program, start meditating and start that online fitness program!
Remember that we are living through an unprecedented moment in history, for which none of us could have really planned or prepared ourselves. Accepting the current state of affairs, acknowledging that this might be a reality for some time and understanding that this might involve a paradigm shift in how we live and approach life and work, is key to riding the tide. Change, for all of us, is one of the hardest things to navigate. So, be aware of your beliefs that offer resistance and work to manage those saboteurs as you deal with disproportionate amounts of change in this period.
3. Manage Spending
While it can be tempting to stay home and make those purchases we have been wanting to for a while, now is the time to cut the frills and reduce the spends on non-essentials. Use this time to do a complete evaluation of your current financial situation, build an emergency fund and start thinking about your long-term planning. Yes, there will be job losses, impact on business and more, so make sure you stay practical and real while looking at provisioning for the immediate future. If you find yourself with a few extra rupees during this time, make sure to look at how you can contribute to those less fortunate whose families won’t be able to buy even the basic groceries in the coming days!
4. Limit the Risk Taking
This is a time for being cautious and pragmatic so don’t go on a buying spree and risk your financial portfolio on good deals if you have not been a seasoned investor. Don’t get caught in the noise and carefully evaluate any new financial investment. This reminds me of a recent talk I attended by Michael Sabia of the CPDQ fame, that when investing it is critical to focus on trends not fads eg. Biotechnology or AI v/s bitcoins, as he suggested. So, stick to what you know and understand, especially during these uncertain times.
5. Lean on Your Network
In moments such as these it is our relationships and networks that hold us in good stead. Social distancing and isolation does not mean that we need to be socially disconnected. Keep your loved ones close and check in with your friends, colleagues and networks. Use video-conferencing and calling to your best advantage – even schedule an online drinks catch-up if you can!
(By Shubika Bilkha, Partner, EdpowerU)