Dear future self,
Congratulations! You made it through the pandemic. Sure, it’s not the ending we thought we would get, but it’s not like we’ve lived through a pandemic before and had something to compare it to. We did our best, we did what we thought was right. Sure you gained some weight and lost your job, but you have your health and that’s what’s important.
Speaking of, the years in lockdown and forced austerity taught us some pretty valuable lessons about how we lived life and managed money. There’s a lot we had to leave behind and even more we had to let go. Now that things are going “back to normal”, let’s take stock and see what this “new” new normal looks like, shall we? Remember what you kept telling yourself and others: there’s no going back, there’s only going forward. These are the things we promised to leave behind.
#1. Emergency, what emergency?
Remember all the times you racked up some debt and took a look at your emergency savings and thought, “what are the odds I’m going to need this money soon? I’m better off using it to pay down the credit.” Now remember the time you thought this and then two months later you lost your job? Girl, you were already almost one-year into the pandi and you actually thought “what’s the worst that could happen?” Anything! The answer to that question from now until the end of time is anything.
You were lucky you had just refinanced a mortgage and had an influx of cash coming in. But you were meant to use that money to pay down the mortgage on the rental, getting us that much closer to paying down that mortgage and freeing up more passive income. Guess what, we’re not doing that again anytime soon, so you squandered your one shot to get ahead on that front.
You were lucky again to get a generous severance package. At the time of writing, we’re still looking for work and launching a consulting business, so I’m not sure how much of the savings you’ve had to go through by the time you read this. Just remember our emergency goal: $20,000. This is three months living expenses, including housing costs of the rental should you be in an emergency situation and tenant-less at the same time. Do not, I repeat, do not go below this amount. You never know what the worst-case scenario is.
#2. Invest, invest, invest
The economy did not behave how anyone thought it would during the pandemic, so what are the odds these so-called experts will also be able to predict its recovery? Do what you can to keep your real estate investments. Continue to take advice from the experts in your life. It’s their job to know market trends and share their decades of insight. It’s what you pay them for.
Same with the bank. Keep investing your RRSP’s in the stock market. You’re still 20 years away from needing these funds, so time is on your side. Look to the long-term growth and don’t panic when things turn sour. But also, don’t be afraid to contact your financial advisor when you need to be talked off the ledge. Instead of losing sleep or staying in a losing mutual fund, get some advice.
And don’t forget to invest in yourself. We both know the year didn’t start off on a great foot, but this career transition happened at the perfect time. You needed the break and the hours of solitude to figure out how to market yourself for the next 20 years. Right now we’re at a place where we’re not interested in being the best in the room or better than everyone else. You have confidence in your creative skills and you even have a dollar value you’ve quoted numerous times and no one has batted an eyelash (maybe it’s already time for an increase?) Keep reading about that entrepreneur life and keep trying things out. You’ve learned to let go of being perfect and took a chance on your own company. Now that you’re out in the real world again, keep it going. Own your imperfection. It’s all in your head anyway.
One or more or all of these things will experience highs and lows for the rest of your life. Don’t go back to focusing on one at the expense of the others. Right now these plates are spinning, so keep an eye on them and keep them going.
#3. Give back
Forced austerity showed us just how much disposable income we have at this stage in life. We know how much we can save by stopping mindless shopping. You did the right thing by paying down your debt and rebuilding your emergency savings. Now that we’re (hopefully) earning steady income again it’s time to give back. Find a charity and give monthly. How’s the media coaching going? Enough to volunteer some advice for free to someone who really needs it but can’t afford it?
You’ve worked hard to get to this point, but you didn’t do it alone. People have been generous with their time, support and advice. Now that you’re established and that much closer to financial independence, what’s stopping you from helping someone else reach their goal?
This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any significant financial decisions