Dear clients and readers,
Every week I prepare a timely national column for The Star and this week the focus was on the financial and mental health benefits of forced simplicity. I believe the message is very relevant for our readers at MeVest. Thus, I’m sharing the relevant highlights, and including a list of my top mental health resources and direct links to the financial aid application portals being provided by the government.
The pandemic is causing Canadians to lead simple lives where three things rise to the top of the priority list; wellness, money and work.
Should I build a new personal website? Will I buy a car this year? Where shall I go on my honeymoon? What we cared about a few months ago is on hold.
Simplicity has a positive side-effect. It helps us prioritize; and perhaps this is a silver lining outcome from COVID-19 – we will have a better grasp of what matters most. Simple and effective prioritization is also the root of financial stability.
Here’s how you can leverage today’s simplicity to build stronger mental and financial health.
Ground yourself, and your finances, with this positive mental health principle
Take action on what is within your control.
Current polling indicates major sources of stress are health and financial fears. Will I get sick? What if I lose my job? These questions are largely out of your control. But, what is in your control are smart steps you can take to protect yourself as best as you can; social distancing, handwashing, executing on your job duties and being mindful of your spending.
If fears around uncontrollable factors are overwhelming you, write them down in a journal, share them with a friend or spouse, or talk them through with a mental health professional. You can even use the free stress management resources on the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website. Additional notable resources are Kids Help Phone, the Mindshift app and Big White Wall.
Also, incorporate physical activity and slow breathing into your day. Physiologically, these will get your blood pumping and help to clear your mind.
Simplify your day-to-day money management
Your money mission is simple; keep as much money as possible.
There are only two things you need to focus on; securing your source of income (a job or various government supports; EI, CERB, CEWS) and spending money on essentials only. Trim whatever you don’t need from your budget and waste nothing. Don’t worry about temporarily cancelling services. The goal is to balance the money coming in with your required expenses. If you need help, reach out to a credit counselling agency; the legit ones are non-profits and services are free. If you’re lucky enough to have money left over, congratulations. It means you have the opportunity to save more for your emergency cushion.
Reduce your anxiety around investing
I have received hundreds of queries about the markets; most of them from understandably anxious people who aren’t sure what to do with their portfolios. For those who feel like they’re missing out on buying discounted investments in this rollercoaster market, don’t worry. The investment community agrees that the recovery window on this market is years, not days or months.
The best and most simple thing you can do for your investment portfolio right now is position yourself properly for the eventual recovery. Simply put, having the correct asset allocation for your age and risk level is the most important step you can take. Every properly balanced portfolio has a slice for equities (stocks), fixed-income securities (bonds) and cash (cash, GICs or money-market funds). The percentages of each adjust to your age and risk profile. A good investment professional can assist you in getting this set up properly. A robo-adviser will do it automatically for you.
Work is changing; and it might not go back to pre-pandemic norms
No one knows exactly how the new economy post-pandemic will look. Will we have the same industries? Will the same types of jobs be available? How many jobs will be available? The two simple things you can take control of are sharpening your personal tool box of professional skills and paying attention to how the job market is changing. This applies whether you’re still working now or have recently lost your job.
Then, pair these together. Take your best skills — negotiation, sales, serving customers, setting up Google Drive or performing data analysis — and market these skills to the employers of the future; those with good jobs to offer in the new economy.
Yes, this may mean you will need to change, or upgrade, your skill set, and possibly look for new work in an industry that’s set for growth.
We are going to get through this, but we need to make smart decisions about our overall wellness, our finances and how we work — the stuff you can control. It’s that simple.
We will continue to stay in touch with you about relevant financial issues amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Thank you for continuing to stay connected with us.
Please reach out to me if you have questions: email@example.com. In the meantime, stay healthy.
Missed our last email? Click here to read our tips for living more simply during these times.