We’re going to have some extra time on our hands. Maybe a lot, probably for at least the next month or two.
Precautions taken to avoid the coronavirus will give us back time we would have otherwise spent on the following:
- Watching the Master’s golf tournament or the NCAA’s March Madness or sports in general
- Discretionary travel – cruises, trips overseas, perhaps even domestic flights to see the kids or grandkids
- Frequent trips to the grocery store
- Attending service at your house of worship
- Going out to dinner
- Commuting to the office or volunteer activity sites
- Going to plays, musical events, meetings, and other large gatherings
You have your own list. And yes, it’s disappointing to be reminded of what we’re not doing in the hope of diminishing the spread of this epidemic. But face it—you’re not going to be spending time the same way you did a year ago.
So, a question for you: What are you going to do with the extra time on your hands?
A flippant but accurate answer: wash my hands several times a day, humming the happy birthday song at least twice each time.
You may also choose to binge watch Netflix or increase your exposure to social media or surfing the internet. The danger is that we’re in the midst of fear and anxiety. No one knows how long the threat of the virus will persist, nor how deeply it will penetrate our daily lives.
Emotions are contagious. One of your friends on Facebook will know of someone who has been infected. You’ll be prompted to worry. Did you keep your social distance when you should? Did you touch your face before using hand sanitizer after going to the grocery store? With fewer distractions, and confined to home, your anxiety and fear can grow. Every sneeze and ache become worrisome.
The market turbulence has added to our fears. Portfolios are down, and we worry about that, too. And the economic reverberations of the virus may impact people we love. Jobs will be lost, hours cut, businesses shut down or with reduced hours and customers.
There are many reasons to be fearful. We don’t want to minimize that.
But in a few months (we hope it's only a few), we will have gotten through this. You will look back at how you spent the extra time you were given. What will you remember? Being paralyzed by fear and cooped up in your home?
Or might you remember offering others some of the reassurance we all look for? Or using your time to make yourself a better person? Some suggestions:
- Write an encouraging letter to a family member who needs to hear from you.
- Call a shut-in or an elderly friend who may appreciate the human contact.
- Research local charities and decide which might benefit from your time or treasure later this year.
- Plan a get-together of family or friends for some time in the future—where will you go, how long will you stay, what will you do?
- Work on a hobby you’ve neglected. Maybe it’s time to do that genealogy work you’ve meant to do.
- Read a good book that takes some concentration. Develop expertise about something you can share with others.
- FaceTime or Skype with your kids or grandkids. Tell them stories from your youth. Help them see a side of you they may not know.
- Write a thank-you note to someone who has impacted your life in a meaningful way.
We spend a lot of time focused on our portfolios. That wealth grows or contracts. Generally our reference point is relative—by how much has it grown or shrunk over the last quarter or year.
This may be a time when it's best you focus on a less tangible asset. Today will be gone tomorrow. We have memories of yesterday, but we aren’t able to recover it.
It’s a hurting, anxious world out there now. Invest in how you use your time.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is general and intended as educational in nature. It is not intended nor should it be considered as tax, accounting, or legal advice. Investec Wealth Strategies and its advisors do not provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. We recommend you seek the counsel of your attorney, accountant or other qualified tax advisor concerning your situation.