Financially Surviving Covid-19
Bona|June 2020
Our finance guru, Sinesipho Maninjwa, shares advice on how you can navigate and survive the financial impact of the coronavirus.
Sinesipho Maninjwa

My day job is within the financial services sector, and I have a few side hustles, including writing and public speaking. When I started out in 2020, I had hope and ambitions regarding my earnings and growth within both my day and side hustle life. I also hoped to travel. That, unfortunately, turned out to be a pipe dream, as we all are now coming to terms with COVID-19. As a principle, I don’t like to discuss my own personal earnings, but I can say the ambitions of upgrading my car have been put on an indefinite hold, and the long-awaited trip to Europe is not happening. Regardless of the costs of unearned revenue; like many of you, I have no choice but to keep it moving.

I hope that by the time you read this, the strict lockdown period for COVID-19 has come to an end and we are returning to some level of normalcy. I think we can all honestly agree that when we envisioned what 2020 would bring, no one could have imagined that as the world and as a country we would face the pandemic known as COVID-19 (medically known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 ((SARS-CoV-2)).

Although the restrictions are undeniably necessary and important for the health of the country, no one can ignore the severe impact that this has already had and will continue to have on your wallet and personal finances. Here are some of the things I’ve learnt that might help you keep your head above water:

TAKE STOCK

COVID-19 has had an immense impact on the global and local economy as well as households. It has affected all of us in some way. You may have been one of those people who have experienced a decrease in salary, were given shorter or fewer shifts or even lost a job as a result. Subsequently; you may have had to borrow money, take a payment holiday on your car or bond or other debt, or alternatively dip into your savings to put food on the table. The best thing to do first and foremost is to take a deep breath and not panic.

The very next thing is to take stock of what money is going to be coming in (your income), and what is going to be coming out (your expenses) for the next few months. As daunting as it might seem, you need to look ahead and reframe your financial efforts and expectations for the current reality. Ask yourself what is doable and not doable, and where you will need to make changes. Remember that a crisis has a way, whether we like it or not, of reframing our goals and plans.

AVOID CREDIT & CASHING OUT INVESTMENTS

While the economy tries to restart and recover, consumers will be inundated with offers of cheap credit and the temptation of purchases. While it’s true that some interest rates are once again near historic lows, making credit cheaper, avoid the temptation of borrowing during a time of huge transition. Instead of committing to loan repayments, set the money that you would have been using to make those payments aside, in a savings account until you know you’ve weathered this storm. There is every chance that interest rates will stay low until well after the Coronavirus has passed, and when you are on more stable footing you will be able to take advantage. Many people are looking at the volatile market with concern, with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange having seen billions in value being wiped off, it would be tempting to scream from the heavens, ‘withdraw all your money!’. However, history has shown that regardless of dramatic ups and downs of the stock market, it is always far better to stay the course.

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