We are nearing the end of 2020, but it seems like the distress is sticking around. Ever since mid-March and “15 days to flatten the curve,” we have entered some strange dream where things keep getting wackier and wackier. Worst of all was the COVID lockdown enforced in many states. Now, many of us wonder if there may be another.
The science behind whether lockdowns work is beyond my area of expertise, and that is not the point of my post. For these purposes, I express no opinion one way or another regarding the wisdom or propriety of locking down society again from a medical standpoint. That said, lockdowns do not just happen in a vacuum and they had devastating financial consequences for millions. That I will speak to.
Lockdowns Are Already Coming Back
Some states have gone backward into lockdown mode. I believe that others will follow, specifically California, New York, Connecticut, and likely Virginia, too. Media and governors have continued to report on new cases daily and are using that as a rationalization. So, like it or not, we are probably going backward, and now is the time to prepare.
Remember what it was like in March and April? Store shelves wiped almost bare; toilet paper nowhere to be found; workers being furloughed and laid off; small businesses shuttering for good. We still have not recovered from that. If states do decide to go down this path again, here is my suggested course of action.
Steps to Take
First, determine who vulnerable you are to being laid off from your job. Do you work in one of the “essential” industries? (I hate that term, but it’s here). Or are you one of the “nonessential” workers? If you are in a service-based industry, like food and hospitality, you are among the most vulnerable to layoffs or having your business closed.
Second, once you’ve identified the risk of losing your income stream, assess your financial situation. Are you heavily in debt right now? Do you have an emergency fund? Are you dependent on more than one income source? Is your income source regular or irregular? Once you’ve identified these factors, you can then make some key decisions.
Perhaps, for a time, it may be wise to pause your debt snowball. Save up some extra cash in case of economic fallout from lockdown. If you have the $1,000 starter emergency fund, you may want to consider raising this to $3,000-5,000. Obviously this is NOT to be blown on entertainment and fun things. This is an emergency fund. A round two of lockdowns could bring on all sorts of emergencies, especially if more businesses go under again.
Things To Have on Hand
You may also want to check your pantry and household items inventory. Most folks likely have enough food for a week at best. You may want to consider stocking (but not panic-buying) the following items:
- Non-perishable foods, such as peanut butter; dried and canned beans; canned vegetables; nuts, seeds, and trail mix; dried pasta; rice and grains; granola; jerky; coffee and tea; and salt, sugar, and spices. Emergency long-term food storage is also an option that has become very popular.
- Water, several cases at least. You use more water than you think you do.
- Paper products (remember the last rush?). Some folks are even getting bidets to cut down on their need for toilet paper.
- Household cleaning and hygienic supplies, including soap, disinfecting wipes and spray, bleach, toothpaste, and trash bags.
- Medical supplies, including bandages, peroxide/antibiotic ointment, pain meds, prescriptions, insulin for diabetics, ice packs, and gauze.
- Cash on hand, at least several hundred dollars if not more, in case you are not able to use your debit card or go to the bank. (Coin shortage, anyone?).
- Some candy bars and treats. If governors isolate us again, sometimes a little pick-me-up can help get you through for a while longer. Don’t underestimate the value of the little things.
This supply list is also applicable to emergency preparedness in general, so you don’t even need lockdowns as an excuse to gather these supplies. This does not mean get 500 jars of peanut butter, but to pick up a few extra things each time you go to the store. If you need to, go to multiple stores for different types of items to leave some stock for others.
As I stated earlier, I do not speak to the medical aspect of this response. What I do know is that these lockdowns have devastating consequences for millions of families and their livelihoods. It is one thing to take certain precautions to protect the most vulnerable, but it is entirely something else to bring commerce to a screeching halt and expect things to be just dandy.
This is not a “profits over people” perspective. It’s a caring for people perspective. I’m sure many of us have been harshly affected by economic lockdown, or know at least a few people harshly affected. Many people’s livelihoods are gone for good. Disease can kill, but poverty is one of the biggest killers in world history.
I don’t mean this to scare you. But we need to recognize that lockdowns are probably happening again. Perhaps right after Thanksgiving or before Christmas. One of Joe Biden’s advisors even suggested 4-6 weeks of lockdown. This is not a hypothetical issue; it’s very real and plausible.
I strongly encourage you to prepare now so that you are not caught off guard if and when your governor issues another lockdown edict. If you’re not sure what to do, let’s talk about what you can do to prepare financially if it happens again.
I hope and pray that I’m wrong, but the trend appears to have been set already.