More Coronavirus Woes: Lessons I’m Learning

I’m struggling to keep balance. Things are happening at a rate that I can’t keep up.

But I’m attempting to keep a level head with all the panic happening around me. The best way to do this is to list what I can learn from this experience:

Having multiple sources of income is important

I’ve lost two weeks of work. On Friday, around 6pm the governor of Hokkaido declared a state of emergency and encouraged everyone to avoid large gatherings over the weekend. Over the next three hours, as I was teaching, management at my company decided that we had to close as Prime Minister Abe also asked schools nationwide to do so–as a preventive measure to halt the spread of coronavirus. That same day, around 9 pm, we got the official email stating that our last day of the year was the next day, Saturday. The rest of the classes for the school year had been canceled.

While I agree with the decisions–really, it’s all about preventing the spread of the disease–I’m just saddened by the way the year ended. Nobody wanted this, and yet this is the mess we’re living in. I wanted to say a proper good-bye to my students, to have a clean break. But emergencies and crises rarely happen that way.

So I’m here with all this extra time on my hands and I don’t know what to do. Actually, if I’m being honest, I have a lot of things to do but I’m procrastinating. I’m wallowing in self pity and mourning the loss of my income. No work means no pay.

But the silver lining to all this is that it makes the importance of having multiple streams of income all the more clearer. Because most of my income comes from my job, I’ve only dabbled here and there with other venues: teaching private students, writing, and real estate. So far, the money I’m earning from theses sources isn’t livable. However, now that I know how important it is to diversify my income as well as my investments, I’m more driven to establish more consistent sources of money. Preferably, I’d like to build more passive income streams. If something like this black swan event happens again, I won’t be as anxious about losing one source of income because I’ll have others to rely on.

Fear is more contagious than the virus itself

I’m struggling more with the general anxiety that pervades the whole of Japan, especially our island up here in the north. I live in Hokkaido and as I write this, we have the most number of infected cases nationwide.

On top of that, some fool decides to spread misinformation and/or blatant lies about toilet paper material being used for masks. This made everyone fear the possibility of running out of toilet paper. Everybody then started panic buying and stock piling on toilet paper–even though experts are saying that there’s no shortage at all.

Toilet paper shelves with the store’s message to not panic and limiting purchases of one pack per family.

You see news coverage of empty shelves of food and toiletries. Of course, there are no more masks, but that’s a given, considering people use it here in Japan all the time. There’s been news coverage of people getting verbally attacked for coughing in crowded trains or not wearing a mask. Store clerks are constantly being asked and berated about the lack of masks, disinfectants, and toilet paper–as if it’s their fault! Health workers fighting the disease are being discriminated against as their children are being refused care.

“People are scarier than the coronavirus.”

Store clerk being interviewed on TV

We all need to calm down and not lose our marbles. I’m surprised this is happening in Japan, considering people were well behaved during the typhoon last year and the devastating tsunami that happened on March 11, 2011 (the anniversary of which is coming up next week).

This virus is getting blown out of proportion. If you’re older or have diseases that might cause complications, I can understand the concern, but for the rest of us, there’s no need to panic.

My investments are…okay

Big shocker there. Due to the complicated nature of me accessing my investments, I wasn’t able to immediately look at my accounts when I heard about the stock market dropping. In fact, I vowed not to check it thinking that would induce another round of anxiety in me. However, when I did manage to check my investments, the markets had already recovered and the dip wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was still earning money–not as much, but it wasn’t a total loss. In fact, the December 2018 dip caused more damage than the recent one these past few weeks.

Heh.

But I’m in it for the long run. I’m also in my accumulation phase so I’m not relying on this money at all. I still have about thirty or forty years before I’m planning to use this money, if at all. It would be another issue if I’m drawing down from these accounts. Since I’m not, there’s no need to change anything, except maybe buy in some more, since stocks are on sale. But that’s too much of a pain in the butt, so I’ll just keep on doing what I’ve been doing: saving monthly by dollar-cost averaging.

My game plan is still the same

Financial independence.

That’s it in a nutshell. I’m still working towards it as much as I can and I don’t want to lose sight of that goal. I’m still going to save as much of my income as I can. I’m still going to be careful with my money and make mindful choices when I spend. I’m going to keep on developing myself personally and professionally. I’m still going to find side hustles to boost my income. I’m also going to stay as mentally and physically healthy as I can control.

Nothing has changed.

I’m not panicked about my investments despite dire news of the markets not bottoming out yet to the predicted 40% drop. I think this is because at this point in my lifer, there’s not much money in those accounts. I’ve lost maybe a few thousand dollars. It’s negligible now. I would be more concerned in the far future when I’ll be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What I found interesting was that I was more concerned about losing my human capital, as in my inability to work because of getting sick. Investing in my health was a greater concern since I wanted to have the immunity to fight off infectious diseases. At this point, money is not really going to solve my problems. Even if I have money, I can’t buy masks because there’s nothing to buy. Money won’t help me get better if my immune system is shot.

So the take away is that my health is more important than my wealth. Without health, nothing else really matters.

Things will get worse or things will get better. I’m just going to sit back, ride it out, and watch with interest.

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