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Uploaded:2020-03-24
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In this video, Chelsea answers your questions about the coronavirus, anxiety, making sound financial choices in the midst of a crisis, and staying informed. She gives an honest breakdown of what the covid-19 crisis means for TFD, both currently and in the future.

COVID-19 vs. Flu statistics: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/20/815408287/how-the-novel-coronavirus-and-the-flu-are-alike-and-different

Broke Millennial's list of resources: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/13OdpUwbi_VytzS4trSsGx25FxElrozbegPZK8KnSLpU/edit?usp=sharing

Side jobs you can do from bed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZygsJAncw0

Watch more of The Financial Diet hosted by Chelsea Fagan here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD30V46E07RR99cC0gCjKUbt-BKoDUcnc

The Financial Diet site: http://www.thefinancialdiet.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefinancialdiet
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TFDiet
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thefinancialdiet/?hl=en
Hey, guys.

It's Chelsea and Mona here from The Financial Diet. And obviously, this is a weird time.

So we are going to go back to a lot of our regularly scheduled programming soon enough, most of which-- all of which, basically we've prerecorded, but I wanted to quickly get in this video before that to just talk to you guys about what's going on, how we're dealing with it, what to expect from TFD, all that stuff, and I have Mona here for moral support and levity, and also because a lot of you, when I asked for questions were like, no question, but can we see Mona, so here she is. So obviously, so it's going to be Tuesday when you guys see this. I'm recording on Friday the 20th.

So really anything could change between now and then. Who knows, but from what it looks like, we'll still very much be where we are right now, which is most of us, especially if you're responsible, are socially isolating. Many of us have gone completely remote in our work or have lost our jobs.

Hospitals all over the country and all over the world are starting to be at capacity, if not past capacity. All of this, of course, going on because of the coronavirus or COVID-19 as this strain is being called, which is a virus that, as we have all heard at this point, has a fatality somewhere around about 10 times that of the common flu, which means that for people in our population, particularly who are older or are immunosuppressed. This is the kind of illness that can require hospitalization or even end in death, which obviously, will put an immediate burden on the ability of, for example, hospitals to care for them.

We will not have enough supplies, we will not have enough ventilators if a critical mass of the population is to get sick. So right now, all of that, working from home, staying away from our friends, not going out to bars and restaurants is being done in an effort to slow the virus or flatten the curve, as you guys I'm sure have all heard, as much as possible. Because we know that we're not going to prevent people from getting it or dying from it, but we have to try and minimize it as much as possible and take it in waves so that our health care system is able to write out the worst of it and not get overwhelmed.

Although, it's pretty much inevitable, especially in places like here in New York City, that there will be some overwhelming at some point. I mentioned that I'm in New York City. Most of the TFD staff is in New York City.

If you have already gone to other places to get out of the city, particularly because it is such a hotbed of the illness right now, but we are all pretty much central to New York or New Jersey, which means we are very much in areas that have been on a heightened level of isolation for a longer period of time than a lot of people around the country. By the time this airs, I don't know what all of the measures will be, but right now in New York City, we are currently voluntarily sheltering in place, meaning we're not leaving unless essential, and we're staying within about a mile of our homes, even when we do something like go for a walk. But it looks like over the weekend, Governor Cuomo is going to put in a measure to essentially ban all gatherings of individuals that are nonessential, which basically means all of them.

So suffice it to say, it is a way of life that I think a lot of us are really taken aback by, and I happened to be in a particularly unique situation, because completely by coincidence and by a hilarious cosmic joke of timing, my husband, who is an immigrant here to the US, because of administrative issues with his applications, he's applying for his green card, and therefore, is going through a whole process with that, has had to move out of the country temporarily. Temporarily being we think in this case about nine to 12 months, but nonetheless, that is a huge amount of time to be separated, and obviously, were this COVID thing not happening, we would be able to go back and forth to see one another during that time. But because we have a travel ban in place and everyone is quarantined, question mark as to when we'll see each other again.

Probably something like two months from now. So I'm here by myself while my husband is in an apartment by himself in Paris, and we're just dealing with it as best we can. We're very lucky in the sense that he has been able to maintain his job.

That's partially why he chose to wait out his immigration paperwork there rather than here, where he would no longer have a work authorization. So financially, we feel very safe comparatively, and also we know that this is a choice that we're making for the best. But obviously, it still sucks to have your husband be halfway around the world when everyone is on lockdown from a really scary pandemic, so that sucks.

No two ways about it. But even within the TFD team, there are other people who are dealing with all kinds of situations. We have a pregnant employee who's obviously dealing with the chaos of that.

There's immunosuppression on our team. We have team members who've been separated. We have spouses who've already lost their jobs.

So it is a scary time for everyone, and I very much put the context of what is happening with Mark and myself in the broader context of what is happening to everyone at this time. A lot of you guys when I throw out the call to questions have asked me how TFD is doing. TFD is very lucky in the sense that we are totally financially independent.

We don't have any kind of debt. We operate very conservative financially, so we have a good cash reserve. We have extremely low overhead and are able to work perfectly fine remotely, so we are one of the best positioned small businesses out there to be able to weather this.

So no one on our team is being laid off, we're not having to cut back hours, we're not having a slow production, and that's fantastic. But of course, even with that being said, we're still going to feel the effects of this, we're still going to see an extreme decrease in business over the next few months, it's just inevitable, so this is the storm that we weather along with everyone else, and we obviously have immense solidarity with small business owners all over the country right now, but we do feel lucky in that we are better prepared to deal with it than most people. I'm also someone who has diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder.

My case is very mild and manageable. I am not currently on any prescription medication. I have taken prescription medications in the past specifically to deal with insomnia as a result of anxiety, and that is something I very much deal with to this day, and obviously, the situation hasn't been helping.

I very much, like a lot of people with anxiety, have a tendency to catastrophize and to panic, but interestingly, I have found that this situation has brought out in me, sure a good measure of anxiety and a good measure of panic, but also a sense of resilience and optimism that I didn't really expect to feel. I think quite frankly, the thing that is most important for my own mental health in this time and that has been most important to keep in mind is it's not about me. I am so lucky in this situation, even with a husband in France, I am healthy, I am young, I am rather well equipped to handle the coronavirus if and when I get it here in New York City.

I'm able to work from home, I have the unbelievable luxury of keeping my job, I have savings. I am in such a lucky position. And more importantly, right now, what is most needed of all of us is a sense of personal resolve and a sense of personal strength, because we-- and I can't speak for all of the people watching it.

Some of you might be people who are on the frontlines of this, but the people who are going to have to keep society running. The people working in hospitals and delivering packages and manufacturing essential supplies and stocking our grocery stores and giving us our prescriptions, those are the people who really have it hard, who are really going to suffer in this and really throw themselves out there for us. And if the least I can do is stay my ass home, work hard, and get through it by cuddling my dog a lot, I'm blessed to be able to do so.

And that is just really the long and short of it. And I think if you don't force yourself to have the highest measure of gratitude possible and the highest measure of understanding of the luxuries that you have, even if you are totally quarantined alone like I'm going to be for the foreseeable future, I live in a time where I can video call anyone that I love at anytime and see them and talk to them and hear their voice. That, in and of itself, is an incredible blessing.

I have an unbelievable level of luxury in my life that so many people will never experience, let alone in a time of hardship. So I have personally found that keeping that gratitude top of mind at all times and keeping in mind who's really having to be on the frontlines of fighting this and really having that quote, unquote "wartime mentality" of, it is about the collective, not about the individual, and that although we may feel isolated, isolating ourselves is one of the most collective things we could possibly do at a time like this is a powerful feeling, and I find it to be a powerful antidote to anxiety. On a more pragmatic level of people asking, how do you keep working?

Aside from all of the basics of stretch, make sure you get outside when you can, be near an open window, all that basic stuff, keep a routine, try and like not stay in your pajamas for three days in a row, take showers. Of course, all of that stuff is helpful and of course you should do it, but in terms of, for those of you who might specifically be having to focus on work right now, just remind yourself every day how fucking lucky you are to still have a job and to still be able to do it, and try as hard as you can to focus on doing a good job while you can, because so many people around you would kill to be able to still be working. Again, as I mentioned, our small business is better positioned than most to weather this storm, and all I can think of is all of the small businesses all around my city who cannot say the same thing.

So work hard for those people. For those of you who might be financially struggling right now, one of the best things I can say is that, one thing that we know for sure and we don't know what form it will take and we don't know-- it will probably vary state by state, only some of it will probably be at the federal level, but there is no way that this economy and this society is going to be able to weather this in any stable way without serious intervention on things like forgiveness for mortgage and rent payments and utilities and commodities and all of the things that people need to survive. We're going to need things like a universal basic income, RIP Andrew Yang.

We're going to need things like the medical bills forgiven of people who go to the hospital. I can't give a full guarantee of help is on the way with any kind of timetable, but things are already happening that a few weeks ago here in New York state, for example, would have been considered insane. Like forgiveness if you can't make mortgage payments.

Obviously, by the time this airs on Tuesday, they may have come down on a number, but we're seeing all kinds of numbers floating around about the checks that are going to be issued to Americans for a stimulus. We're seeing all kinds of news about the kinds of grants and forgivable loans and zero interest loans going to be offered to small business owners. Help is on the way, financially, because even the most indifferent leadership that we have knows that society will collapse if they're not able to help people in this situation.

This isn't a time to be hard on yourself about any decision that you might have made in the past. This is the time to really be focused on organizing collectively with the people around you, and doing everything you can to push those in leadership to find solutions for all of us. If you're someone who was living paycheck to paycheck and is completely panicking right now, all I can say is at the very least do not beat yourself up for having been in this position.

Forgive yourself, and focus on getting through tomorrow. That's all you can do at this time. Lastly on the overall topic before I get to your questions, so many people ask us all the time when we do events with TFD who are rightfully concerned about the climate.

This was all pre corona, for the record. How can I invest in a retirement fund if I'm afraid that the world will be collapsed by the time I hit retirement? One of the things that is so important to keep in mind with your financial life and your life, in general, but particularly your financial life is that it is all about making decisions on what is likely to happen.

And I could never give someone a guarantee that, for example, due to climate change, the market will be worthless and your 401(k) will be worthless or nonexistent in 50 years, but what I can say is that that is most likely not going to be the case. If we look back at the market over decades and even centuries, we know what we can say is that although things may be different, although life may look different, we will generally tend to find an equilibrium. And if you are in a situation where your 401(k) tomorrow is utterly worthless, it is unlikely that dollars you might have stashed underneath your bed are all that valuable either.

So choosing to panic and abandon or opt out of entirely things like saving for the future, investing, et cetera is likely only going to work against you. In this COVID situation, we are likely to come and find a balance. The truth of that balance is it will be somewhere between minimizing unnecessary deaths and preserving some semblance of economic stability.

Each country will find that balance in a different place. Knowing America, ours is a little bit likely to be tilted economy rather than life, but we're going to find a balance and we're going to find a status. And you will have wanted at that time to make the best most long-term thinking decisions that you can.

So things like panicking and taking all your money out of your retirement fund or even really not continuing to contribute consistently if you can afford to do so in a diversified and balanced way is not going to serve you in that long-term. You have to think long term, and you have to think about what is most likely to happen. And if you start basing your own financial and strategic life decisions on what will happen in a Mad Max future, where your entire retirement account is worthless and the market is worthless and your dollar is worthless, then you should just be doomsday prepping at that point, because what you're imagining is a scenario where you are fighting your neighbor the death from water.

What is very likely as a result of the coronavirus is that we are going to have to turn our society somewhat more toward sustainable socialized solutions to these things. I'm an optimist by nature, so part of me wants to say that I think that out of this, we might have a real shot at Medicare for all in the long term. I think that we might have a real shot at things like much more robust social security, much more robust unemployment benefits, much more robust access to emergency funding for things like small business, but even in a situation where Social Security's incredibly robust, people still had private retirement accounts.

People still were supplementing their retirement. So just because we may get more socialized on some of these fronts, and God, I hope we do. That's not going to eliminate the need for any of your current strategies.

One thing that has been very helpful to me in this situation has been being really historical in my analysis. There is a fine fine line between staying informed through the media and being glued to your screens 24/7 and being impacted by news that is not necessarily complete or relevant or necessary and is often framed in the most terrifying way so as to get attention. And when you look back through history at times that have caused mass disruption, not always, but often, it is an opportunity for positive growth and development.

And when I look around at some of these packages that are being proposed, even by the most staunch fiscal conservatives in our current government, I say, when our backs are against the wall, we realize that we cannot all do this alone and that we live in a collective society, where the health and security and safety and employment of our neighbor is as important as our own families, and that is a lesson that I can only hope and pray everyone will take away. So now, I'm back for part 2 of this video, the COVID video with my beer in hand, which is answering your guys questions from Twitter when I threw it out there today just about any and all things I might be covering in this video. So let's just get right to them.

Please just have Mona cameos. That came up a few times. Obviously you guys saw her.

She's currently wandering the hallway, but if she comes back, I'll pick her up. What, if any, good recipes you've been cooking, or what you've been watching/listening to. I love big batch cooking in general, so this is my time to shine.

I'm doing I'm doing lots of pasta sauce, soup, obviously stuff that freeze as well. Also a great way to support your local restaurants, cafes, et cetera if they're still open is too big batch order things from them that could freeze well. Stuff like Sicilian pizza, pastries, soups, broth, all that kind of stuff, but I've been doing a lot of that at home and made a big batch of pesto, big batch of like tomato salad, sausage and peppers.

Just all kinds of stuff that like stores well, freezes well, I couldn't get enough of it. So that element of this has been great. I think I to make French onion soup in the next day or so.

I was in the process of building my emergency fund, but I only got one month in savings so far. That's already huge and more than so many people, so truly thank your former self. I will need to use it to pay for my essentials.

How do I recover my emergency fund from this pandemic since I am not able to work during this time? Again, first and foremost, huge thanks to your former self that you had the foresight to do that. That is huge and more than many, and not only are you lucky to have been able to do that, you are smart enough to have done that.

Huge congratulations. And the fact that you even have an emergency fund to work off of in this time puts you in a good place. As I mentioned earlier, for people who are on the edge financially, the best thing I can encourage you to do is to stay abreast of the kind of stimuli-- stimuli. of the kind of stimulus packages and relief checks and relief grants and forgivable or zero-- everything that's coming your way in order to help you survive this time, keep an eye on it every single day.

Follow sources, like TFD will be reporting on it. Our friend Erin from Broke Millennial has put together a great spreadsheet of resources. See what is available to you, and make absolutely sure that you take advantage of it.

That's the best thing you can do right now, and of course, when things go back to normal, and they will, even if it's a slightly different normal. Keep on the same mentality that led you to saving an emergency fund in the first place. So good job.

Ideas for how to help people who are struggling most with everything going on, aside from social distancing. I'm not really sure what this means. This question is a little confusingly phrased, like who are struggling most with everything going on, aside from social distancing.

I assume you mean people like people who are older or immunocompromised who can't really fend for themselves in this environment, who can't do things like grocery shop. Here in New York City, there are tons of great organizations being built impromptu, where people can volunteer to help deliver supplies, groceries, essentials to those in need. You can donate money, you can donate time.

Anything that you can do. Honestly, if you have a friend or someone who's totally isolated, perhaps an older loved one, family member. Give your time to them, call them, reach out to people.

Just be as generous with yourself as humanly and physically possible. That's all you can do. And also, I wrote this in a post that I did at the beginning of the week last Sunday about dealing with everything, and make yourself so busy doing things for others that you forget what you want to be doing for yourself.

Be generous of spirit, generous of time, generous of money. Do you you/did you have problems with missing your normal routines and usual coping mechanisms are not working? I don't have the mental capacity to declutter or something productive at home and planning, which normally helps me a lot, so it feels impossible at the moment.

Yeah, I mean, yeah, things suck right now. For sure. The things that used to feel good don't feel good anymore.

I've been doing a lot of cleaning and tidying because I'm bored and don't have a lot of other stuff to do, but ultimately, like I said earlier, and I know this sounds maybe tough loveish, but even if you're struggling with your normal coping mechanisms aren't really helping you, are you safe? Do you have a home? Are you healthy, relatively?

Do you have enough food to eat? Are you able to like watch Netflix on your computer when you want to? God damn, we are so lucky in this situation.

You could be pulling 14 hour shifts at a hospital right now and not have enough masks to cover your face and can't be near your children because you can't give them this illness. I just feel like if we don't have that wartime mentality of like everyone needs to be doing their part, and if your part consists of staying at home and not feeling great like, you are damn lucky. So that's really all I've been telling myself in this time.

That's all I can, because otherwise, you're going to spiral with how bad you feel and how not normal things are, and what you wish you could be doing, and you can't let yourself do that. You cannot compare your day to a normal day. It's just not.

It's not going to feel good. How is The Financial Diet operating during this time? Well.

My anxiety has been through the roof #solidarity. Right there with you. Right there with you.

Cheers. How can we prepare for a recession if necessary? This is such an unanswerable question in this moment.

If you have a job, keep it. Save, save, save. Although, quite frankly, what the fuck else are you going to do right now?

But save as much as you can. Continue to make reasonable saving decisions. Stay the course.

Stop checking your 401(k). Be as aggressive as you can. If right now you have other-- if you could take on a source of income from home, like online work, and we have some great videos we can link you to a video in the description about jobs you can do from bed.

Try and maybe take one on. If you are unable to save right now, preserve your mental health by not beating yourself up about it. Just do everything you can to be conservative, stay the course, do not freak out, keep a job if you have it, save your money, and be as conscientious as you possibly can about your decisions in this time.

But again, if we do not have help from above, in this case being our federal local and state governments, no one's going to make it. So keep an eye on what is being offered to the American people. Have you found virtual connectivity to be refreshing and a good way to communicate during this time or more along the lines of a superficial imitation of human interaction?

I feel like I'm somewhere in the middle and curious about others' perception. The answer is both. It is a superficial imitation of human interaction, but it's all we have, so we have to lean into it.

Don't compare it against a hug from a loved one. Compare it against not being able to speak to them at all. Imagine this is Spanish flu time and you have to like mail them a letter and by the time they receive it, they're dead.

Any advice on negotiating rent? In this case, commercial spaces for small businesses? Keep an eye on what your legislation is doing.

In many cases, there are already legislations being passed. By the time this video goes up, there may be even more legislation passed all over the country that is helping people who are unable to make rent payments, unable to make mortgage payments. Know the law in your area, know what you have on your side.

If you're not able to make it or if you have to negotiate it down, when you send that information, send it with what is backing you up on the legal front. I think here in New York, they've already eliminated evictions right now. You can't evict people right now, and that's for 90 days.

They're also doing relief if you can't pay your mortgage and can show proof of financial hardship. So every day that this develops, there are more protections being put in place, so know your rights. Know your rights, state your rights, and do not be afraid, because we are all in this together.

Some freelance gigs or way to make money while unemployed? I still have to make rent. We'll link you to that video I mentioned about working from your bed as well as some other resources that we have for remote employment.

How to focus at work with everything going on? Every single day, multiple times a day, remember how lucky you are to have a job and to be able to work it from your home. How to engage with people, colleagues, et cetera who I feel like don't take this situation seriously enough, or is it hopeless?

Also at the same time, I feel like sometimes I'm overreacting and motivated by pure panic. If you feel like you're overreacting, you're the right amount of reacting. And the paradox as they say with overreaction is that in situations like this, overreaction, if it works, will in hindsight seem like it was too much, but that's because we'll have prevented the worst.

State facts, back yourself up, link to relevant and trustworthy sources, share as much information as you can, but at some point, do not drive yourself insane trying to convince people who don't want to be convinced, and trust me when I say that they will believe soon enough when people that they love start losing their jobs and dying. So it sucks, but it's true. How to maintain the balance of overreacting versus under-reacting?

Are you doing everything that your local and state governments are advising you to do to help soften the situation and help improve the situation? And are you advising others to do the same? Then you are reacting perfectly well to this.

Listen, I love you guys, and I hope that you're doing as OK as you possibly can. I raise a glass or a can to all of you, and I wish you the best time that you can possibly have through this strength. Strength at home, strength wherever you happen to be, and for those of us who are helping keep us safe and keeping society running during this time, we cannot thank you enough, and we will all do everything we can to make your sacrifices have been worth it.

Thank you guys for watching. As always, don't forget to hit that Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Bye.