Here’s How COVID is Changing How We Think About the Future
Even as researchers race to find a COVID-19 vaccine, coronavirus is already changing our world in a permanent way.
That’s because major historical events always leave a legacy. For example, 9/11 not only led to a 20-year war on terror, it permanently changed the experience of air travel, led to an overall rise in surveillance, and changed the language we use.
Like 9/11, COVID is reshaping society. For instance, a surprising number of locked-down Americans are ready to permanently end their commutes and work from home forever. On the negative side, college enrollment is dropping as people put their educational plans on hold. Basically, they’re putting the future on hold.
Here are four ways COVID is changing how we think about the future, along with strategies for making it work to your advantage:
1. More Young People are Doing this to Protect their Families
COVID has more people in their 20s, 30s and early 40s thinking about their mortality. They’re starting to wonder, What would happen to my family after I’m gone?
How would your family manage without your income? Chances are your checking account balance won’t last forever. Now’s a good time to look into a life insurance policy.
You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But this takes just minutes — and you could leave your family up to $1 million with a company called Bestow.
And don’t worry about forking over a ton of money. We hear people are paying as little as $16 a month. (But every year you wait, this gets more expensive.)
More of us are seeking the peace of mind of knowing our families are taken care of. COVID has more of us getting life insurance — especially those of us under age 44. That group had a 13% increase in life insurance applications in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the previous year, according to insurance analytics firm MIB.
It takes just minutes to get a free quote and see how much life insurance you can leave your loved ones.
2. It’s Changing How We Work
COVID put half the world’s population in lockdown. An increasing number of Americans, having now proven that they can do their jobs from home, are interested in continuing to work from home.
Now, nobody’s saying that offices are going to disappear. Obviously huge numbers of workers will be returning to their offices once a COVID vaccine becomes widespread and life returns to normal.
However, about two-thirds of remote workers now want to continue to work remotely, according to a new survey from Gallup. That’s a lot. Really, really a lot.
All we’re saying here is, keep your options open. Workplace experts are predicting that, in general, employers will be pushed to show more flexibility when it comes to this.
3. Sacrificing Our Savings
Ouch, this one hurts. Overall, a third of Americans say they’ve turned to savings or retirement accounts to pay the bills since the pandemic started, according to a new Pew survey.
That’s to be expected, since more than 20 million Americans lost their jobs due to COVID. And hey, if you’re out of work and you’ve got to dip into your savings for food and shelter, we totally get it.
If you’re at a point where you’re able to work, though, it’s a good idea to try and build your savings back up. Which brings us to our next point…
4. People Want a Personal Safety Net
With job losses in the millions, more Americans are becoming keenly aware of the need to have an emergency fund on hand.
Being out of work is one of the toughest things that can happen to you. That’s why it’s a good idea to build up an emergency fund that equals three to six months of your salary, in case you unexpectedly lose your job.
How can you do that? Try the 50/30/20 method for budgeting. Take your total after-tax income each month, and divide it in half. That’s your essentials budget (50%). Take the rest, and divide it into personal spending (30%) and financial goals (20%).
Let’s break it down: That’s 50% for things like utilities, groceries, medications, minimum debt payments and other essential spending. Then there’s 30% for fun, like Thai takeout or your Netflix subscription.
That leaves 20% for your financial goals, like additional debt-reduction payments (anything above the minimum monthly payment) along with retirement savings and investments — and that’s how you build an emergency fund.
Try experimenting with the percentages. See what you can cut from your fun spending and put into your emergency fund.
COVID is changing our lives forever, sometimes in unexpected ways. You may as well get strategic about it.