While COVID-19 is seriously sweeping through the health sector and wrecking a lot of havoc on the already crippled resources in some parts of the world, another pandemic sneaked in through the back door unnoticed. As Corona continued spreading this one spread even further, and even gained more attention than the giant in the house. As you may have noticed, people stopped following daily briefings and to some extent the daily measures given by WHO. This new monster is financial and economic uncertainty.
The whole economy has suffered, and so have individual economic agents from farms to households. Unlike COVID-19, the economic apocalypse wasn’t uniform in effect especially on individuals as it hurt others more leaving those with financial masks on a little space to breathe.
So who was hit harder by the “financial pandemic??”
With the loss of jobs across various sectors from hospitality to small-scale business shutdown, low-income families have had to bear the bigger burden of these effects. With already strained resources, families have had to battle with balancing basics needs and healthcare for the family. Money saved for medical emergencies has been all sucked into the daily increasing expenses with no promised flow of income. Most families have therefore used up their savings.
Apart from low-income families, another group in society most affected is the lone-parent families. A scenario where there’s only one breadwinner for various reasons, with loss of jobs such a family crushes financially. Young children are forced to take up small jobs to supplement what’s available, and this has long-term effects on them. Others end up dropping out and this spells even more economic doom in the future.
Why have the economic effects been so heavy to a point of overshadowing the millions of deaths caused by COVID-19 you may ask? Remember before COVID people had mortgages to be paid, rents, school fees, and some households were already living in debt. These bills and financial obligations didn’t stop with COVID-19. That’s why we have witnessed in the recent future public outcry by people seeking rent concessions or extensions. The effects are clear and remember even with the various restrictions, people need to eat otherwise they might die of hunger while running from a health crisis. Those who had debts haven’t received any relief on interest as governments have received from their lenders.
In such hard economic situations, everyone is dying to squeeze through and get away to at least put food on the table and have peace of mind among family members.
So how can you to manage the situation economically and emotionally? Let’s explore a few that I have put together for you.
1) Talking about it to bring awareness to your partner and kids
It can be a hard task being a parent in this time and season when all of you are locked in all day. It’s a good time to spend time with your family but a difficult time as well when all ends aren’t meeting. With financial stress comes emotional stress, and this can be expressed in various ways. You might not get along well with your partner and the kids are quick to see that. You want to be the one in control of things but this can be hard when all you have to offer is the company.
So to help you sail through this heavy task you should be able to talk about the reality of things to everyone but not in equal terns. Your kids might be scared and think they’re about to die when the situation isn’t that grave.
Explain to them why they can’t have those daily expensive gifts anymore, why they can’t go out parks, and have fun as usual. Use this as an opportunity to teach your kids on responsible financial behavior and even priority spending. What came as a crisis could be a blessing in disguise.
2) Be sure to address the kids’ fears only
You know what worries your kids and that’s what you should give them assurance on or a good explanation of, is why they can’t have some things anymore. As I said earlier if you bombard your 5-year-old with the reality of you losing your house and moving in with neighbors, his emotions will spuzz out. They will be scared and think we’re now poor and we should beg and what that does to their mental development might be irreversible. Such issues just discuss with your spouse or teenagers, and if kids must know and the situation is that bad, be sure to do it right.
3) Avoid capital spending
Economically speaking, this is not the right time to buy that Samsung fridge you saw in the supermarket just before COVID and left it in the cart to buy later. The effect might not have hit you that bad, but I’m sorry it’s coming if you don’t plan well. The health crisis continues and we’re certain the economic one will last for as long as the health crisis stays around. It will be wise to put on hold all capital expenditures until further notice even if it’s for business purposes.
You’ll agree with me not many businesses are booming or even surviving during this period. Most have gone under and your idea can’t be so profitable that you have to implement it now unless you’re manufacturing masks or something related to preventing the spread of COVID. So your ideas on business, and any planned capital spending should be put on hold as you prioritize family sustainability financially, and preventing your loved ones from Coronavirus.
4) Seek government and private aid
The government has put in various measures to cushion its citizens from the ripping effects of COVID-19. The different social security measures put in place target the vulnerable in society ranging from the disabled to those living in slums. This however doesn’t put a limit on those who can be helped provided you’re in need.
With the right information, you can be helped reduce the burden. There’s nothing wrong with seeking either government or aid from any organization offering such since it’s for the short term as we go through the situation as a country. The mentality that seeking help means you’re poor is misinformed and propagated only by those who have a way out. There’s someone out there who’s willing to help and the government is just one of them.
5) Embrace other income channels
Stories of people buying their groceries from Prados have surfaced the internet lately. Do you think those Prado owners were selling onions before the pandemic? Maybe yes, because grocery store owners own Prados too but I doubt if they sell their products in those heavy machines, we see them selling along Naivasha road. It’s just a way to cope with the situation instead of staying home and sleeping on an empty stomach while kids watch and starve with you.
Some have those vehicles on loans and are still servicing the loans. Some were promoted in their jobs a week or month to Coronavirus outbreak only for them to be sent on compulsory unpaid leave weeks later. It’s the least they can do to get things going. So don’t shy away from doing the same. Find out other ways you can make a coin to sustain your family regardless of the nature of it.
They say necessity is the mother of invention and when the going gets tough, it is the tough who gets going. Sell those eggs and tomatoes.
Author: Felix O. Mbaka, Finance and Economics
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