How I am handling my finances and coping during Covid-19

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I have received a flurry of e-mails from readers asking me how I am handling my finances and my life in general during these uncertain times. Thanks for reaching out. I will gladly oblige.

First, expressing gratitude

As some of you know, I am based in Vancouver, Canada. Here, there is no “confinement” like in other parts of the country or in other countries. However, many shops, businesses and places of entertainment are closed until further notice. Same for schools and universities.

People are asked to stay home as much as possible…which is exactly what I have been doing since mid March. I was supposed to travel to France, my home country but cancelled my flights as the country went in total lock-down. My plane ticket is refundable, but I am unsure as to when said refund will be processed. It could be a while…

I realize how privileged I am to be able to stay home. I am not a frontline worker and I have the luxury of setting my own hours and workload. Said workload has definitely decreased, but I am fine financially….at least for the time being.

I am equally privileged to live in Canada, where the healthcare system is more than adequate and where all levels of government are working together to provide assistance and see us through this crisis.

I have never taken my Western-world background for granted. It has given me incredible privilege and opportunities from the day I was born. It is continuing to do so now.

How I am managing my finances

Let’s get to the nitty-gritty:

  • My income is down. Honesty is important.
  • I am still paying my bills in full and on time, at least for now. Yes, I realize how fortunate I am to be able to do so. Most of the amounts on my usual bills have remained the same, mainly my fixed expenses such as my mortgage, strata fees, car insurance and internet. Other bills are not due before Summer such as my home insurance, prepaid cell phone and property taxes.
  • I have postponed any non-urgent spending, such as servicing my car and minor maintenance items in my condo.
  • I have not touched my investment portfolio. It went down in value, but I am sticking to my plan. My portfolio is for retirement purposes, so I don’t need the money at this stage.
  • I am not contributing to my RRSP or TFSA for now. It is unfortunate, but as my income is down, it’s not a priority at this stage.
  • My overall spending is actually down. That’s a good thing given my income is also down! As a lot of shops, restaurants and other entertainment places are closed, I haven’t spend anything on them. I have also made a conscious choice of avoiding supermarkets and other essential shops as much as possible. I also chose to limit the amount of deliveries to my home.

How I am coping personally

I have made good use of my unexpected free time. My condo is de-cluttered and more functional than ever. I have rediscovered the joy of cooking and baking. I have also binge-watched on Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. I have been reading a lot too.

I have been in touch with friends and family via Facebook and WhatsApp.

I am not watching the News too much though. I find it anxiety-producing.

Once again, I realize how fortunate and privileged I am.

Final word

I am aware there’s much more important things going on in the world today than how a personal finance blogger is managing her finances. I know there is more important than me, period.

I guess I just want to reach out to anyone who is in the same situation and feeling unsettled or alone. You’re not alone. Your feelings are normal.

We will get through this.

Stay safe!

The problem with personal finance blogs

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I totally understand the post you are about to read may confuse you, and even more so since I am a personal finance blogger who has been blogging about personal finances for over 3 years.

That being said, I believe it is also important to have perspective.

PF blogs are either too generic or too specific

A lot of blogs out there are either about extreme frugality, early retirement, stock investing or becoming debt-free. If you don’t fit in any of these categories, it is hard to relate to these blogs and the bloggers behind them.

Same goes with geographic location. A lot of blogs are written by US residents. Well, I live in Canada so that does not necessarily help me.

It is one of the reasons most people create their own blogs in the first place. I was no exception.

most pf blogs are written by non-specialists

This is a highly sensitive area I am coming to. The majority of people blogging about personal finances have no background in it whatsoever. Quite a few are writers trying to cash in on the popularity of the subject.

Writing is also influenced by personal experience. Bloggers are sharing tips and advice because it worked for them. By extension, it should work for everybody else, right? Wrong!

In order to work, financial advice has to be personalized. You don’t get this in PF blogs. It is crucial for readers to always check facts and not take the advice too literally.

PF blogs are repetitive

How many times have you read that you need to save money for retirement or have a budget?

Don’t get me wrong, basic financial advice is and will always be needed. It is a foundation to build on. But we also need different takes and perspectives in order to progress.

So, that what my blog will be aiming to do from now on. Readers will still see basic advice from time to time, as it allows for a broader audience. But, there is some conventional wisdom that can and needs to be challenged.