Hello, my good people! We are currently in interesting times. In light of all that is going on throughout the world regarding the Coronavirus, I wanted to craft a post with my thoughts of how we can each stay:
There are real concerns about physical safety as we do our best to contain this virus, not catch it and not spread it.
Furthermore, the market has been going crazy. For anyone invested I want to speak on how we can remain invested and not give in to panic.
Lastly, whenever there is a crisis it’s easy to get caught up in fear, negativity and pessimism about the future. Mindset is a powerful thing that I’ve written about previously. Let’s do our best to be on the optimistic side of the future. I’ll share some tips on what I’m doing to keep positive.
Let’s dig in…
What we think and focus on has such an impact on our health, actions and reactions to things. While I haven’t recently written a post in my series titled, Brain Health, it’s something I think about and research often.
A wise woman said something to me early in sobriety which has stuck with me. She said to me that whatever I feed will grow. That is profound and true. Do I want to feed fear, anxiety or worry to only watch these things grow in my life? Or would I rather feed peace, caution and optimism to watch these things grow? When I remember this, which is often, I do my best to focus on feeding the latter.
Here are some things I’m proactively doing to keep my thoughts positive during this pandemic:
Limiting the amount of media I watch or listen to
Let’s face it the media feeds on fear! I like to be informed but I’ve never been one to sit and watch or listen to hours of media coverage. It can become depressing to focus on the gloom and doom of things. However, and especially in a national emergency and/or pandemic, it’s important to stay plugged in so I choose carefully what I listen to.
For example, I’ve listened to the governor’s (of Ohio) speeches. Additionally, I’ll listen to any address of the U.S. president. You know things that affect me and my country? However, I’m also interested in what is going on globally so I’ll tune into media reporters I trust for an occasional update.
I’ve read many emails from insurance companies and how they are handling the testing and care of the Coronavirus.
Lastly, I’ll tune into what my pastors are speaking about concerning this situation.
Exercising and getting fresh air
It’s easy to want to stay away from gyms or highly populated areas during this time. Where we exercise is a personal choice but regardless we should still stay active! Get outside and take a walk, a hike, a jog, a bike ride or ski.
After being cooped up inside getting outside with some sunshine and fresh air can do wonders to my perspective, thoughts and overall mood.
Praying and reading the bible
I’m a woman of faith so this is something I do daily. During a national emergency, this becomes even more important to me. Here’s a great blog post by my friend, Pete and Bible Money Matters about worry.
Staying in touch with family and friends
My boss put out a very thoughtful message to our team today:
“My belief is that over the next week to 3 weeks personally eliminate what is not essential socially – family, close friends, etc. – no essential interactions should be reduced.”
I loved that and am taking it to heart. I’m still visiting with family and friends in small groups. When it’s not possible due to circumstances, we’ll communicate over the phone. Although, nothing takes the place of face-to-face contact with loved ones. It feeds our souls.
The purpose of my post is to speak to the fear, anxiety and worry that people are experiencing and replace it with positivity, caution and healthy reactions.
With a pandemic, there are some real physical concerns. It’s obvious this virus can be lethal to the older population, those with compromised immunity and those with respiratory problems. I’m not a medical professional so I will lean on the advice of those who are.
Here is a great article from the Mayo Clinic on how to protect yourself. Additionally, the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) are other great resources. I saw my primary care physician this past week because I’m currently getting a lot of vaccinations for my upcoming mission trip to Uganda, which is still on BTW. At most, it could get postponed. Anyway, my doc said the threats are real for the population at risk and we should practice caution. I’m going to add that we should practice optimistic caution!
Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine ODH Director Acton announced a new website for Ohio citizens to get real-time information about the Coronavirus.
Some of the things I’m doing to be cautious are:
- Washing my hands a lot
- Staying on top of my health by exercising and eating right
- Using disinfectant wipes on equipment at the gym where I work out both before and after I use them [Edit 3/18/2020, the Ohio governor ordered gyms & recreation centers to be closed the same day this blog post came out. I am now biking or jogging outside and doing strength training in my apartment 🙂 ]
- Avoiding large group gatherings
- Avoiding contact with the part of the population who is more vulnerable because God forbid I could be a carrier of this virus
- Working from home per directives of my boss
- Preparing meals and freezing them; although, this is something I’ve always done
- Stocking up on a few extra supplies like water, cleaning supplies, toilet paper and canned goods so I won’t run out. Moreover, I could actually supply my neighbors if they run out.
Now let’s get into one of my favorite topics – how we can stay the course with our invested assets! This is the first bear market I’ve experienced as an investor. Back in late 2009, I was first getting sober so I wasn’t an investor during the crash of 2008. I remember hearing about the housing market crash but couldn’t fully comprehend what was going on because I was deeply dealing with my own stuff.
I only became a serious investor in 2018 after paying off my debt and gaining enough knowledge to understand investing. Everything I’ve read and listened to about investing tells me that investing in the stock market is a wild ride. One hedge against volatility is allocating some assets to stocks (high risk/high reward) and some to bonds (low risk/low reward).
I’ve found the asset allocation which is comfortable for me to be about 80%/20% (stocks/bonds).
Additionally, I’ve learned that when the market crashes or has a major correction, it’s time to buy because stocks are on sale. It’s certainly not the time to sell! Well, how am I, as a new investor, handling this market volatility? The answer is totally fine. I really don’t check my investments all that often because I just keep pumping money into them. I’m not gonna stop either.
There is certainly a buying opportunity right now. However, it’s wise to know one’s personal investment strategy in times like this. As I new investor I learned about other strategies before I developed my own. I learned about the importance of developing my own personal investment policy statement and so I did. Once a year, I rebalance my assets and analyze my strategy.
I was listening to Choose FI’s recent podcast episode in which MK and Brad were talking about this exact thing. If you are an investor, it’s wise to take the time to write your own investment policy statement during stable times when you can be clear-headed. Then you’ll have it to refer to in emotionally wild times.
So what am I doing? I am staying the course.
Fortuitously, I sold my HSA invested funds about 5 weeks ago and transferred them to Fidelity. They arrived last week and I was able to re-invest them when the market was low. I got to sell high and buy low but it wasn’t planned or intended but just darn good fortune.
I may invest a bit more into the market now because I have a federal and state refund coming. However, I’m not touching my emergency fund! It will remain in my savings account.
Additionally, because I’m a new investor, here are some recent great articles from more veteran investors:
- The Benefits of a Bear Market by Fritz at the Retirement Manifesto
- Taking Advantage of Mr. Bear by JL Collins
- Feeling Scared already? It’s not even a Bear Market as of March 4th! (But it became one a week later!) by Early Retirement Now
- How Real Estate Gets Impacted by a Decline in Stock Prices by Financial Samurai.
It’s easy to lose focus in emergencies so my hope is that my words inspire us (me included) to find positive peace, cautious optimism and plans to stay invested.
May you all stay healthy in the coming weeks.