How COVID-19 changed the way I think about income and expenses
9.76 million confirmed cases, more than 493,000 deaths. This pandemic certainly has changed the way we live, think, work and travel.
Work from home has become the norm (temporarily) and business travel will not longer be the same.
Millions of jobs are at risk and it’s not surprising that most sectors will be affected. The chart below by McKinsey & Company illustrates it perfectly.
Here are five things which I learned because of this pandemic:
1. Create multiple streams of income. Having just a full time job with one stream of income is not advisable. It holds you captive to your job. Employers can decide that certain functions of the business is not necessary, and retrench workers.
The last that you want to happen to you is to be retrenched in times like these. Hence, think of creative ways to create multiple streams of income so as to make your cash flow more robust. That is why during this period in my free time, I set up an online hobby business called Watch Care.
This is a place where I curate the best watch care products for watch collectors and hobbyists. I have found out that most watch collectors were willing to spend in upwards of $10,000 to $80,000 for an expensive timepiece but they do not have the know how to take care of their timepieces proper. This business has helped me to cover for miscellaneous expenses such as food and transport.
Do not underestimate the power of generating other streams of income no matter how small they are. Once you are able to find one that work, you can start scaling it up.
2. Take advantage of market dislocations and invest opportunistically. By March 23, 2020 this year, the S&P 500 index fell 34% to a low of 2,237.40 points. March 2020 was the 19th worst month in the history of trading as the S&P 500 was down 12.5% for the month. This caused widespread knock on effects to other parts of the world where most local trading index were at it’s lows too.
However, this can be viewed as an opportunity in a lifetime (in fact multiple lifetimes) to buy stocks which are heavily sold off. Companies that has resilient business model and robust cash flows like groceries stores were good bargains as people would still need to get necessities. Take a look at Sheng Siong, a Singapore-based company which operates as the third largest chain of supermarkets in Singapore. The share price has risen steadily since it’s low in March this year.
I’m sure that there are tons of similar companies that are worth investing opportunistically during this period of time.
3. Reduce clutter and adopt a minimalist lifestyle. This whole work from home schedule has allowed us to save lots of precious time from commuting to work. In fact, I am able to save on average two hours a day from commuting to and fro from work. I use this time to organize my room, de-clutter things that I don’t use anymore, because I know that it can have a positive effect on how I think. Having a cleaner and less cluttered room also allows me to think more creatively. I find myself thinking more on viable business opportunities constantly.
I also found out during this pandemic that I have spent so much money buying unnecessary clothes and things in the past. I have since cut down on almost 90% of my online spending, and only buy what is necessary. This pandemic, has certainly shaped the way I think about expenses.
4. Reduce membership expenses. You can live without them! Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, I was spending a huge amount on gym membership, ClassPass memberships as I enjoy the company of others while working out. This could come up to an additional of $200-300 per month.
However, with most countries in lock down the past few months, I find myself being able to exercise at the comfort of my home and at my own pace. If you prefer having an instructor to guide you, there are always online classes which are much cheaper than the physical gym membership subscription.
Think about it, the $200 saved per month can equate to almost $2400 savings each year. This money can be better spent on investing at 4% dividend yield, which will have a compound effect year on year. There are definitely better and cheaper ways to exercise.
5.Upgrade your skills by take free courses. Last but not least, I find that it always pay to upgrade yourself and prioritize learning new things. There are free courses from Coursera and edX which collaborates with leading universities and companies such as MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley etc. Such courses are extremely useful in helping you to create multiple income streams. I took an online course on entrepreneurship in emerging markets which helped in my online hobby business. You will pick up things like decision making techniques, problem-solving solutions, supply chain, marketing techniques, distribution channels. It has definitely changed the way I think about managing a business.
How many of you have found that this COVID-19 pandemic has a positive effect on you? Share with me what are some of the new things that you are doing in the comment box below.