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  • Writer's pictureJohn Stoj

In a COVID-19 World, Little Things Do Mean a Lot

Why are you looking at a trash barrel? Normally, that would be a great question, but we're not currently living in a "normal" world. With the pandemic related disruption to our daily lives, I must admit part of me was worried that the trash would not be collected, and what you're looking at is not just any old trash bin, it's an empty trash bin. I don't think anything that's happened since the COVID-19 pandemic began has given me such a sense of relief.

One thing I've become more aware of as I've gotten older is that everyone has worries. The worries may be different, but whatever each person is worrying about is the most important thing to that person. Another is that we do live in bubbles, each of us tending to believe that our concerns are clearly the most important, and correct, concerns because "everyone" we know shares those concerns.

Why am I writing about this during the stressful time of a pandemic? I think it's because I bounce between several distinct bubbles.

As a financial planner, the disruptions in the financial markets feels like the end of the world. I've heard from clients and friends who are rightfully concerned about their savings and the pandemic's effect on their financial plans. To my friends in this bubble, there are few things more important than the level of the DJIA. I totally understand their worry.

As the husband of an anesthesiologist who is currently caring for COVID-19 patients, I not only hear about concerns within the health care system, I worry myself about my wife's safety. We have dozens of friends who are on the front lines fighting the pandemic, literally putting their lives at risk every day to help others. I totally understand their worry.

As the former owner of a foodservice business, I know first hand the difficulties of running a business in an industry that functions literally on a hand to mouth financial basis. And I know the challenges faced by most folks employed in the food industry. These are folks who often care very deeply about providing delicious & comforting food to their customers, while many times not knowing whether they themselves will be able to afford their next trip to the grocery store. We know that social distancing and the prudent closures of restaurants & bars will make it difficult for many food industry workers to afford next month's rent. My friends in food are suffering greatly. I totally understand their worry.

There are any number of other bubbles out there, each with distinct worries, worries that are keeping people up at night, increasing stress levels, negatively impacting people's health. The coronavirus does not care which bubble you hang in. When you look at the news about the stock market, I only ask that you try to remember that we're all in this together. Only about 55% of American households own any equities, and 12% own 80% of that. Many folks are just worried about staying healthy & putting food on the table without steady work. If your main concern is the market, you're in better shape than many. Follow your financial plan, or take this opportunity to put one in place. Either way...

(Update: for those of you with sharp eyes, yes, the recycling was also collected later on.)

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