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The New Normal: Lessons from the COVID-19 Lockdown

 

It’s been a couple of months since the government implemented a nationwide lockdown. It seems people have stopped counting, more so when the numbers of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases started climbing up. Along with this global pandemic came an unforeseen collapse in the economy, felt locally and overseas. Markets have crashed and businesses have closed.

But it is as if people are already trying to come to terms with this new normal. Some have adapted well, while some are still grappling with the immediate effects of the disease in their respective lives and livelihoods. A few things are certain though. In such an event, common sense goes a long way. And being prepared emotionally and financially can spell the difference between you keeping safe in your bubble at home and lining up until midnight for handouts.
Below are some useful points the common Pinoy should take away after coming out of the extended community quarantine or ECQ.

  1. You need to set the goal you want to achieve and stop listening to what other people say.

 As individuals, people are expected to form personal goals and deliver on them. Your goal in life should serve as your guidance in every move you make. You should carve your own path. We Filipinos are so prone to living up to the expectations of family and friends – and sometimes even the outsiders. So many lives have been altered because we’ve been so prone to listening to the opinions of others and sticking to the societal norms.

There is someone who wanted to show off in front of friends and bought a flashy new car after being offered a PHP 70,000 salary barely four months ago, only to be sacked at the height of this COVID-19 pandemic. There is a woman who didn’t want kids immediately but was pressured by her parents to produce an offspring because she is not getting younger. She had to give birth at home because the hospitals couldn’t accommodate her.

These are but examples of how important goal setting is, especially in times of crisis. If your plan is to save up for a house, don’t hesitate to live in a shabby apartment close to your work for the meantime even if you’re a doctor or a lawyer. Ignore it when they say you should look a certain way or that you should project your status in society. You’ll be fine as long as it’s decent enough to live in; besides you probably wouldn’t be lounging around that much. If your long-term goal is to fund your small business, start working on it, and don’t listen when someone tells you that you’re risking a lot or that it wouldn’t work.

  1. It doesn’t matter where you come from; what matters is whether or not you come out of a disadvantageous situation alive.

If you’re wallowing in a corner asking why you lost your job or why you didn’t save enough for this trying season, then you’re no good. There’s no point in crying over spilled milk, they say. The same goes for when they tell you that it’s not your fault if you were born dirt poor but it would be your fault if you die poor. You have all the time in the world now, so you should start thinking about how you’ll make your life better or at least how you could recover financially and emotionally.

At the height of the lockdown, even those with unlimited finances couldn’t shop for what they wanted. Their cash was basically useless when everything closed down. Remember how the disease took the lives of many, with others seemingly out of the blue. There are countless of rich people out there, who, despite their resources, could not save their loved ones because the nearby hospitals were at capacity or the hospitals flat out refused to admit them out of fear of community transmission.

  1. Wealth isn’t all about the amount of money you make, but the amount of money you don’t spend.

There are people who make over PHP 100,000 a month but are still not in a good financial standing. There are people who earn less than PHP 20,000 a month but have quietly established an emergency fund that would last them at least six months. While it is true that hard work, connections, and luck are big factors in someone’s financial success, it’s not all there is to it. There is a huge difference between the person who seizes every opportunity to make an extra buck and the person who lets all his income go down the drain.

Just look at all the athletes and celebrities that live on the edge and have certain lifestyles to maintain. You’d see them on your feed begging for public sympathy after COVID-19 struck. Having a simple lifestyle and being smart about where your money goes are your main gateways toward a satisfying financial life. Real estate investments, equity funds, P2P investments, no debt, and no expensive hobbies while you’re still young and while the rest of your age group live it up at parties – that’s a smarter choice.

  1. You can always turn things around if you want to.

A friend recently shared how during the lockdown she became friends with an ex-factory worker who was let go by his company. He would do errands for my friend, such as when they wanted takeaway food or when they needed a sack of rice.

This guy was already in a bad situation, feeding a family of four on a meagre minimum wage and all that. He was initially feeling down because he lost his main livelihood. He thought of the motorcycle he uses to commute to work and wanted to apply for a permit to use it as a TNVS, however, this was logistically impossible since offices were closed.

But he thought of the mouths he had to feed. After thinking long and hard, he revved up his motorcycle and started going around his neighbourhood to ask people if they had any tasks for him that would require some form of delivery. He would go house to house to ask if they needed a hand. He would ask for a small fee on top of this. And it was such a hit! He’s pretty much operating as a TNVS now, but under a brand of his own.

  1. Ask for help if you need it.

Seeking help is hard, especially when you’re already in a stressful, unfavourable situation. Don’t be afraid to ask, though, because help is always on the way, even when you least expect it. Otherwise, you’ll only confuse yourself more. Getting the support you need in any form – whether it’s from the government, relatives, or friends – will open you up to new perspectives.

Whether it’s in-kind support from your barangay or financial support from your in-laws, it’s worth it when you absolutely, definitely need it. If it’s emotional support you’re seeking from your friends halfway around the world, accept that it’s a strange time and reconnect. It will be good for your heart and mind.

And when you get the help you need, don’t forget to pay it forward. Extend support when you can. Like a disease, you should allow kindness to spread like wildfire.