by Damon Carr, For New Pittsburgh Courier
The year was 2020. No one who is of age and sound mind living during this time will ever forget this year.
As I sit back and reflect on 2020, I’m filled with awe and amazement. It feels as if we were all cast in a movie. They took a page from “Outbreak” and “Contagion” and created this blockbuster movie called “Pandemic.”
Our pay for our starring role was a measly two-part stimulus check. Those of us whose stimulus check was phased out partially or entirely were either cast to make cameo appearances or cast as extras. I wish we were all a part of a movie. Unfortunately, “The Pandemic” is real.
Having 20/20 vision is being able to see things clearly from a distance of 20 feet. We often use the phrase 20/20 vision to describe someone who has great knowledge or insight on a given subject. We talk about having “hindsight 20/20,” meaning we can clearly understand a situation or event after it has happened.
The year 2020 was a bunch of cuss words and a plethora of negative adjectives. Suffice it to say, the year 2020 is a year most of us want to put in our distant memory. As we move from 2020 into 2021, it’s important that we look back on year 2020 with 20/20 vision and learn how to be better prepared to deal with negative events going forward.
I can recall vividly when the news first broke about the pandemic. It was early March 2020. At first, I brushed it off as the media sensationalizing a story. Initially, I didn’t take it seriously. As the numbers began to tick upwards for those affected with the virus and those dying from the virus continued to increase, I began to pay more attention. As businesses, schools, gyms, movie theaters and places of worship began to close, I knew I had to take it more seriously. As people who I personally knew came down with the virus—some of whom died—shared their stories on social media, it became real.
It’s hard to grow and develop in an environment when things are going well, be it personal, physical, spiritual, financial, or in business. We all seek to get to a place in life where if we put in the work, we hope that eventually things will be on auto-pilot. We want to be able to sit back, relax and reap the fruit of our labor. It never seems to work out that way long-term. Things can go well for an extended period of time. Then BOOM! You experience a negative event, a new way of doing things, or unforeseen events that force you to grow in order to continue to thrive. If not, you’ll more than likely be forced to succumb, give up, quit and go in an entirely different direction.
Practically everyone has been negatively impacted by the pandemic of year 2020. Motivational speaker Les Brown says when you go through a negative situation, you didn’t “go” through anything. You “grew” through it. If you weren’t touched in the year 2020 where it caused you to grow mentally, emotionally, spiritually or empathetically, you are among the walking dead.
2020 was a year where we were all tested to some degree. We’ve all had to figure out how to navigate and survive in a world that’s completely different from what we’ve been accustomed to and took for granted.
You can’t rely on the government: Our current president is a farce. Even if our current president was someone with 20/20 vision, take note that when the American people get into a financial jam, the government definition of a bailout directly to the people amounts to small change and puny dollars—that’s if you qualify.
The biggest award granted directly to the people was access to their retirement accounts. People were allowed to withdraw up to $100,000 from their retirement plans —penalty-free. In addition, people were able to pay the taxes on this $100,000 over three years.
More than half of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement—and you want them to use it as a lifeline? If you were fortunate to amass $100,000 or more and opted to take $100,000, it will take more than six years to replenish that money. Furthermore, that’s literally millions of dollars lost in the form of forfeited compounded interest. Develop a plan to live frugal, save aggressively, and shun debt. Doing so will help you weather any storm, including a pandemic, longer than most.
Self-preservation is the first law of nature: I had a client share a story. She and her now-hubby moved in with her parents right before the pandemic to save money for their wedding, honeymoon, and down payment on their home. They wed right before the pandemic hit. They were out of the country on their honeymoon when the pandemic became big news. Upon their return, her parents, who were elderly, told them because of the pandemic, they couldn’t come back to the home. They’d have to catch an Uber. Her dad couldn’t come to get you.
‘“Let me know when you’re close, we’ll sit your belongings on the porch…”
At the height of the pandemic, we’ve all had similar experiences where loved ones had to forgo seeing loved ones for fear of catching the virus. We learned firsthand that despite the love we have for others, we have to look out for numero uno first and foremost. If you don’t look out for yourself, nobody will.
Be willing to pivot: We observed several people lose jobs and several businesses close doors as a result of the ill effects of the pandemic. Those people and businesses who were able to stay afloat, survive and in many cases thrive during the pandemic were people and businesses willing to pivot, adjust and do things they’ve never done and thought they’d never do. The NBA comes to mind.
In an effort to provide much-needed entertainment to their fans and curtail the loss of billions of dollars, they created a safe haven called the “Bubble” for their players to continue their basketball season. It was a great success that I personally enjoyed watching immensely.
We as people have to be willing to control the things that are within our control and seek creative solutions to stay afloat even if it requires us to pivot into something different.
(Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached at 412-216-1013 or visit his website @ www.damonmoneycoach.com.)