Like many people, Poopsie and I are watching and waiting to see how the world, and more specifically Australia, responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is a lot going on and it’s both a stressful and scary time for many.
Work and Isolating
I personally do not think Australia is doing enough to reduce the spread of the virus. As I write this post, Poopsie and my workplaces are still conducting all work in our offices. We are government employees which means the government, as part of their response, has the ability to tell us all to work from home and reduce our exposure to each other. They have failed to do this yet and I personally think that is a mistake.
Many private businesses in Australia have their employees working from home already which I think can only be a good thing. I think if employees have the ability to work from home, then they should be. Of course, not everyone has the ability but why are we wasting time exposing people who can very easily work from home to their workmates?
I have been disappointed to see in my own life people not taking the threat of the virus seriously. This has actually come from mostly older people – the very people who will be at increased risk if they contract the virus. I have (sometimes angrily and rudely) done what I can to make them understand the seriousness of the situation but I feel my message has not gotten through.
I hope that in the coming days, all Australians start to take the threat a little more seriously and that we all take responsibility to ensure we do not inadvertently expose someone who is more vulnerable to the disease just because we “had to go to work” or “just ducked to the shops for a few things”. It’s just not worth it.
I will say again I know everyone does not have the ability to work from home or self-isolate. I am expressing my frustration at the people/organisations who do have that ability and are choosing not to or not allowing their employees to do so.
The Share Market
On Monday, the ASX closed 9.7% down, the biggest one day drop since the 1987 stock market crash.
There are lots of people, particularly on Twitter calling this a sale and encouraging investors to pounce and buy cheap shares. This is the usual FIRE “wisdom” when the share market drops.
While I am certainly not against this, I would urge caution. Australia is quite possibly heading into our first recession since the early 1990s. For the vast majority of Australian FIRE bloggers, this will be the first recession of their adult lives. We have never been through one before and therefore can’t possibly begin to understand how uncertain our economy may become.
I think now is a good time to make sure your emergency fund is fully stocked, you’ve paid down as much consumer debt as you can and, if you have one, you get yourself ahead on your mortgage. Basically, prepare yourself for a possible job loss in the future so that you and your family don’t lose your home and are able to continue to live at a basic level.
Despite having extremely secure government jobs, Poopsie and I are doing exactly this. We have a fully stocked emergency fund (held in our offset account), we have no consumer debt and we are putting as much money into our mortgage as we can spare. That way, if anything was to occur and we were under financial stress, we would have enough buffer with our mortgage to get ourselves back on our feet. At the moment, we are about eight months ahead of our mortgage so we are working to increase that before any kind of recession hits.
At the moment, I think what the world needs most is for us to be kind to each other.
We have all seen the viral videos of Australians fighting each other over toilet paper (I won’t link to them, but a simple google will get you there). People are apparently pushing and shoving in lines and our main supermarkets have felt the need to open an hour early each day for pensioners and the disabled to shop unencumbered. While I applaud this measure, I’m sad that one of the main reasons they’ve had to do so is because of the deplorable behaviour from everyone else doing their groceries.
You may not be in a position to help someone out through this period, but at the very least, when you are interacting with others, be kind, offer them a smile and certainly do not snatch groceries out of their shopping trolley. Australia does not have a food shortage. We are having a big of a shelve-stocking shortage but that will be resolved in time. You do not need to turn on your neighbours in a bid to get groceries.
Be Kind. It’ll make all the difference.
How has your workplace responded to COVID-19? Has the drop in the share market scared you? Will you be buying up or stashing cash? We would love to hear what you’re doing in the midst of this pandemic in the comment section below!