by Chris McGinty
It’s a little over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US. If things get under control in the next few months, I can declare that I walked way from the mess in better financial shape than when I started – we’re only talking four figures better, but closer to five figures than three figures. This is partially because I was working food delivery and they considered it an essential job. To make matters worse, we didn’t have the flood of people we expected who still needed income but who had lost their job. This meant that for months after the pandemic started I was working overtime hours while business was increased which increased my tips a little.
I guess one could say that I was vaccinated financially against losing money during the health crisis… or one could say that I had a crappy job where the idea of getting to lock down wasn’t an option.
I believe that the real reason my financial situation improved was because my life was already setup in such a way that if I’d had to stop working for a few months I would have been ok. I might be broke by the time I went back to work, but I wouldn’t be homeless, I wouldn’t be starving, and I would be able to rebuild what little savings I had quickly. This is because I have very little consistent outgo in my budget. I have rent, food, car insurance and maintenance, and a cell phone. I had back child support at the start of the pandemic, but I’m caught up now and done with the ongoing child support. Any other spending that I do is completely optional.
I acknowledge that not everyone could have the situation that I have, but only if you acknowledge that more people could put themselves in a similar situation than we tend to admit to. Are roommates sometimes a pain in the ass, yes? But a majority of roommate situations work out. What doesn’t work out is when neither party in the roommate situation uses the reduced cost of living to get ahead. And as far as reducing costs outgoing expenses, there are some who may believe that they could never get to the level that I’m at, but I could actually reduce my outgo even more if I changed my job. No, not everyone can do it, but more people than we admit can.
The simple fact is that there is nothing written in the law (yet) that we have to give back all of the money we earn. We have to pay taxes and there are some expenses that most people need to cover, but we don’t have to operate on a budget where all the money we make is given back to the corporations who employ us. I don’t mean that I would spend all my money on getting hamburgers delivered to me, but collectively enough people do so that collectively the financial progress that I made was lost by someone else. I know that if people don’t order food delivery, I don’t make as much money. The thing is I would just adapt. I would work fewer hours delivering and pick up hours somewhere else, like a grocery store because even if people aren’t ordering take out, they still need to eat.
I’m ahead after a year of trying times for many people. Again, it’s not by much, but it’s something. It’s because I was already setting myself up to be ok in any circumstances before an “any circumstance” hit. We might be back to normal in the next few months, and they’ll start screaming about how long it took after The Great Depression for the economy to improve because people were afraid to spend. That’s not your problem though. Your problem is to get yourself prepared for the next emergency. Then when you’re in reasonably good financial shape, you can help the larger economy. Your economy comes first though, because the government is certainly not going to help you next time if they didn’t help this time.
Chris McGinty is a blogger who might be giving all his money to thrift stores. It’s with the intention of making money back again, but that’s not the damn point. Actually, it is the damn point. Don’t listen to the me who was typing two sentences ago. He didn’t know what he was talking about.