The coronavirus is the only thing on people’s mind. I know it’s bringing a lot of people a lot of anxiety including myself. I’m not a health worker and nor do I have any special advice for anyone.
The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 has hit our shores and has not severely affected large groups thankfully. Even before the virus landed in Kenya, the global economy and by extension, Kenya’s economy had taken a huge hit. The Nairobi Stock Exchange has suffered huge shocks in the past two weeks, wiping off billions in market cap of companies such as Safaricom, Equity and KCB among others.
I’d just like to reiterate the official advice that’s out there (from WHO, CDC & Ministry of Health): wash your hands, limit close contact with people and if you feel sick, self-isolate.
The virus has definitely shook me. I’ve already had one anxiety attack this week thinking about the impact it could have on my life BUT I am trying to be positive in the face of this situation. There’s a lot of good personal finance advice online and I would like to give my list of things that I think would be useful to anyone having similar concerns about COVID-19:
- Stock up on essential supplies but don’t hoard – The elderly & low income households will be severely affected by this virus especially if food shortages arise. Our supply chains in Kenya haven’t experienced anything like this before (I’m sure many other countries fall into this category as well) and might not be prepared. Buy what you need if you are planning to self-isolate.
- Keep your emergency fund ready – This is a global emergency and it would be smart to have access to your emergency fund because you may be without work, you may have unexpected medical expenses and this is when your cash cushion will count. This also means that if you are planning to self-isolate, you have that extra cash to buy supplies.
- Spend mindfully – Many people will suffer income shocks and whether you are one of those people or not, you will be impacted by this. Whether this means you will have to assist your family or employees is your choice but remember that we’re all in this together and we have to have each others backs.
- Be careful before rushing to the stock market – The markets are down. Stocks are on sale. This is true. However, we don’t know when these stocks will bounce back if at all. If you have studied a company and think it’s a good time to buy, go ahead but remember that there is no timer on when the market will bottom out. And if you have any investments, DO NOT SELL for the fear that your stocks will be worthless. Your stocks will recover, every recession is followed by a period of stability, only we don’t know when that will start. Don’t be rash and don’t liquidate your entire investment.
- Take care of your health – This relates to both your mental, physical and financial health (in that order). Try and remain calm and get in the appropriate amount of exercise. Don’t underestimate COVID-19 and do whatever you can to stay stafe.
I wish everyone all the courage and luck in the world to remain positive and careful. It will take some time but humans are the most resourceful species in the world (or is that turtles?). Stay safe & look out for each other.