Responding to COVID-19

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.

Kindness

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!

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8 Responses to Responding to COVID-19

  1. It’s a very new experience at the moment that’s for sure. I’m with you in thinking that our government is not doing enough currently, even though there have been huge changes just over the last week. And similarly, I’m finding it’s the older people who are most at risk who don’t want to make changes.

    I’m in the veey fortunate position of being able to work from home and am doing so, I have zero intention of heading back into the office any time soon.

    But there are plenty of other people out there who can’t work from home, or after the shutdowns we’re already seeing don’t have a work to go to. I really hope that they’ve got an emergency fund, and that the government does as much as it can to support them, cause they’re going to need it.

    • I’m glad you’ve been able to work from home, Aussie HIFIRE. I should be able to (ie. my role allows it to be done remotely). Word today from my boss that next week we will “trial” two days working from home. It’s a start, but it still isn’t enough.

      Once this is all over, a possible recession has passed and things are bouncing back, I hope it will be the kick in the pants most people need to build up emergency funds.

  2. I’m a teacher in a public school and I’m seething that the government is putting the economy ahead of health.
    “Our schools are full of young people” is all very well … IF the teachers were the same age as the students. Young people apparently don’t feel the effects of the virus that much, but nothing’s stopping them from spreading it! I may appear to be youthful and dewy but I’m in my 50’s. I’m sure I’m going to have to self isolate at the best and suffer through the virus at the worst, thanks to the schools being open.
    Why is it ok for teachers and students to be pushing their way through crowded corridors and sitting in crowded classrooms with 28 kids and a teacher… yet for everywhere else we need to be a metre and a half apart??
    Argh!
    Anyway, ’nuff said. Bunnings cancelling sausage sizzles should be enough to let Aussies know that sh*t’s getting real.

    • I completely understand where you are coming from. My sister is a public school teacher. She is also about five months pregnant and she has a number of teachers at her school who are over the age of 60. She (nor any other teachers at her school) has not been consulted about how they feel keeping the schools open. Teachers (and other staff) are being the scapegoat for this – forced to come to work and possibly endangering themselves as a result of a political decision. I’m quite unhappy about it and I can’t imagine how it must be to be one of those people having to go to the schools everyday.

      I actually didn’t know they’d cancelled Bunnings sausage sizzles. Outrageous!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your well considered thoughts!

  3. Definitely unprecedented times. Trying to put social distancing into effect at work yesterday – met with some backlash from customers. Wasted breath trying to tell people we have enough medicines, just that the suppliers cannot keep up with deliveries – normal delivery schedules totally out of whack. Etc etc. People were snatching hand sanitisers right out of cartons before we can stock the shelves.
    As healthcare workers, we do not have the luxury of working from home. Even the calmest person is afftected by the panic buying and general vibe of tension & anxiety in the public. We are not even at crisis point yet. Been telling our staff to de stress and try to keep away from social media when we’re home, look after ourselves. The road ahead is very bumpy.
    And get your flu injections, people! You don’t want Influenza A and Covid-19 at the same time

    • Miss Balance says:

      I’m lucky in some respects to work in an essential service, so I know my job is not only secure, but we are also hiring as we will need more staff support.

      Despite that I still have a backup of an emergency fund and staying frugal becomes even easier when things are closed.

      I haven’t even bothered going to get groceries this week as I will survive for now. I hope the panic buying stops and we go back to normal, then I’ll get some more supplies.

      I hope everyone does their part as much as they can to keep social distancing, and stay calm and compassionate towards others as we get through this.

      • Wise not to hit the shops this week. We are the same, we have plenty so really just some fresh veggies each week is all we need. And if we must, we can technically do without those.

        You’re right about everything being closed reducing the spending. That is a silver lining. We are definitely tightening the belt, it just seems a prudent decision. Hopefully when things return to normal, we will continue with that tightened belt and increase our savings rate and reduce our spending.

    • I saw today about putting some medicines behind the counter – including children’s panadol! Just crazy.

      I hope you are looking after yourself, as much as you can! The stress is far from over so do what you can. I’m thinking of you and all of your colleagues!

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