We're only 3 months into the new decade and oh my, it feels like we've been through a decade already! The past 2 weeks had been crazy and it shows how quick and drastically things can change. Unfortunately, it looks like we're just in the beginning of this roller-coaster ride with no end in sight..
February 28, I wrapped up my final day of work in Tampa after 8 consecutive weeks of traveling and headed to the airport in the evening to catch my flight home. At that time, the cases and news about Covid-19 were still mostly outside of the US, and the virus hadn't quite hit the US yet. However, I was cautious about being in crowded areas, packed a hand sanitizer in my backpack and used it multiple times during the trip. I was also more sensitive about other people coughing around me and tried to distance myself from those people. I was very annoyed to sit right across the aisle from a guy who was coughing without covering his mouth (ugh 'covidiot') the entire 1.5 hours flight from Charlotte. Fortunately, 14 days have passed and I didn't get sick.
Just as I settled back to my work-from-home routine, the company announced on March 3 that all non-essential internal travel through May 1 is suspended and all offices were closed 2 weeks later. P.S. My 8-weeks of travel would have been considered non-essential. The following timeline shows my company's responses to Covid-19.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted us so far?
I know I'm privileged to have a secure job that allows me to work remotely. I've been working from home full time since last September so the office closure and WFH arrangement did not impact me at all. The husband works in healthcare so he still has to go to work everyday. That means, we're still exposed even though I stay at home all the time. Fortunately, he doesn't have any direct exposure to the virus at work. Nevertheless, he is practicing extra caution and maintaining good hygiene.
We bought most of the highly-demanded items (e.g. toilet paper and Clorox wipes) in early March before they were wiped out from the grocery stores a week later. March's grocery expenses are higher than usual and that's because we front-loaded the purchase of necessities/items that we usually buy and use. We didn't go crazy hoarding unnecessarily. Both of us have been good with conserving and not wasting food, but we've been more conscious about using things like Clorox wipes sparingly.
We've stocked up enough food to last for at least a month in case we need to hunker down and stay home but I'm still sticking to my weekly routine of meal-prepping and continue to purchase fresh produce/perishables as long as they are available in stores. To practice social-distancing, I've been waking up early to go to the grocery stores at 6-7am
As mentioned above, my daily routine has been the same and I'm someone who's absolutely fine staying home all week without even stepping out of the house. Hubby makes sure that he washes his hands thoroughly every day after getting back from work. We've also been trying to sleep more and eat healthier to boost our immune system. Both of us are homebodies so this whole social-distancing thing is right up our alley. This may sound weird but we really enjoy it!
We don't have cable TV and don't usually watch the news because it's too much BS, but we've been keeping up with the news a bit more lately. To be honest, watching the news reminds me of why we chose to stay away from them because I've had too many WTF moments seeing what's going on in both Malaysia and the US, and both governments' responses to this crisis have been disappointing so far. Well to be fair, I think Malaysia is now doing a better job and standing together as a nation, while the US is still treading blindly on uncharted waters. We've seen the results of other countries ahead of the curve, the sooner you impose heavy measures, the less time you need to keep them, and the sooner we can all get back to our normal lives. Unfortunately, both countries wasted precious time on politics, incompetency, lack of leadership, not taking urgent and drastic measures, and people not cooperating and taking this seriously...it's like watching a competition between dumb and dumber...so frustrated and helpless. Thank goodness Malaysia has Dr. Noor Hashim and US has Dr. Fauci.
At this point, a recession is inevitable. Fortunately, our jobs have not been affected by this shut down and we're both still working and getting paid. We've also been saving diligently for the rainy day and have at least 6 months of liquid emergency funds. As we all know, the stock market has been tanking and our investments are also badly affected. However, we are in it for the long run so we are not panicking. Instead, we see it as a good opportunity to keep investing during our accumulation phase. With the Fed lowering interest rates, we may be looking into refinancing our mortgage too. As for my rental property, the tenant asked if we could reduce the rent so we've agreed to help her out by cutting next month's rent by half. We'll continue to evaluate and will try to help as much as we can.
We have planned and booked 3 trips for this year - a roadtrip to the Carolinas in May, Malaysia and Japan in June/July, and a trip to Canada in Aug/Sept. At this point, it looks like our travel plans will need to be postponed (hopefully not cancelled) but it's still premature to make any decision now. Fortunately, all the flights, hotels, and rental cars are booked with points and miles, and are mostly changeable/cancellable without too much cash outlay so I'm not too concerned yet. I'll continue to monitor and make any necessary changes when the time gets closer.
Last but not least, my utmost respect and Thank You to all the workers who are standing on the front line during this difficult time. Please stay safe and healthy, and we will do our part to stay at home to help flatten the curve (and our butts).
January 2021 December 2019