The Best Ways To Come Out Of A Pandemic Better Than You Began
A list of 6 things you can do during a pandemic to improve your finances, well being and post-pandemic life
It's been 7 months since the pandemic began and everyone is still adjusting to what this new life means to them. While you may be one of the economic casualties of Covid-19, becuase you are unemployed or your hours have been reduced, that doesn't mean that your life needs to be totally runied as a result.
Look, everyone is feeling the stress of the world in different ways. Wondering how they are going to make enough money, when will life return to normal, and for heavens sake when can we enjoy a drink with friends at a local bar?
All good questions.
Unfortunately, most don't have a definitive answer.
But when life gives you lemons, squeeze the heck out of them and make some delcious lemonade! You'll be happy you did so now, instead of later. When everyone else is parched, scramblig for a sip of water, you'll be lounging back in a rocking chair on your porch drinking the sweet nectar of the work you put in during the pandemic.
To help you start squeezing, here is a list of 6 ways to come out of a pandemic better than you began it...
#1 GET 10-15 MINUTES OF EXCERSISE PER DAY
If you already do this (or do more than this), then congratulations! You're a rockstar and can go get yourself a cookie! If you aren't doing at least 10-15 minutes of excersise, then get up off your butt and do it now! Seriously.
I know, I know. It's hard to get up and do something for yourself when the whole world is depressed. But let's be honest...you have the time to do this right now! You're working less hours, you're unemeployed, you're working from home. There is literally no reason that you can't do this. No reason you are unable to create a new, good, healthy habit. You have the time.
You don't even need to leave your home if you don't want to. Not being able to go to the gym or be outside because of the pandemic is not an excuse. Put on some music and dance around your living room! 10-15 minutes is the equivilent of 3-5 songs. Spend the time doing a mix of push ups, jumping jacks and sit ups. Stand or sit there and just stretch your body like we all had to do for P.E. class. Go for a walk or run around a few blocks. Jog in place at home duirng the commercials of your favorite TV show. Do it alone. Do it with a partner. Need some inspiration? Follow Lisa Rinna on Instagram and dance with her.
It won't take long and I promise you will feel better. True, if its been a long time since you've had any physical exersise, then the first few days might be rough. But, once you get through the first 3-5 days of consistent movement, the hardest part will be over. I swear.
Do it when you first wake up, before you go to bed, on your lunch break, or just before you shower. You have the whole day to figure out when to fit in 10-15 minutes of movement. Your body and mind will thank you. What's the worst that could happen? You'll set a new habit that makes you feel better physically and perhaps a little less depressed mentally? Oh no! If you do it at home, you're not even increasing your risk of contracting Covid.
Honestly...most of us spend more time than that per day sitting on a toilet. And we should be moving our bodies with the intention of excersise for at least more time than we spend in the bathroom.
#2 REQUEST A CREDIT REPORT AND DISPUTE THE DEBT
I know this sounds crazy with millions of people unemployed or working less hours. But in all honesty, this is a perfect time to try to improve your credit and you probably have the extra time to spend on it. The sheer number of people who will neglect their credit scores during a pandemic, will only help YOU look better on paper - if you keep up with it now. Even if you have never specifically spent time trying to improve your credit score, why not now?
Request a credit report and make sure everything is accurate. There's a ton of fraud going on right now (humans can suck), so it's a great opportunity to make sure no one has stolen your identity. In truth, you should probably already be doing this as an adult. If you haven't been, now is a perfect time to get into the habit. You have the time.
Plus, many credit card companies and banks offer free credit report monitoring. Set up those services if they are available to you. No one likes thinking about their credit, but getting in the habit of checking it once a week is not going to hurt you. It's good information to know.
While you're checking out your report, if you have anything in collections...dispute them. The reasons for this could be their own article - or multiple articles on how to control your credit score - but for now, I'll sum it up with one word: Proof.
Collection agencies usually purchase your debt from original creditors - usually a credit card company. These credit card companies have already written off your debt as a loss before a collection agency is hounding and harrassing you for the money. If you dispute the collection with Transunion or Experian (for example), the debt collector will have to provide proof of the debt. There are many instances were paperwork is incomplete or they are unable to prove you owe their company said money. As a result, if the debt cannot be verified, it is removed.
Without proof, it goes poof!
You can only dispute one thing at a time and each process could take up to 4 weeks. But if it's in collections and you weren't paying it yet anyway, then you have the time, right? Start with whatever one is for the largest amount. After the dispute process is completed for that one, move on to the next one. Continue this process until you have disputed anything you can.
Disputing will not always result in a removal. If the debt can be verified, then the collection process can continue. However, every single person I know who has done this has had at least one alleged debt removed. For some, several were deleted. Poof.
No one has ever been mad about deleted debt! (Well, maybe except for the vultures over at debt collection companies since they paid for something that ended up being useless for them). At the end of the day, disputing is not going to harm you.
It may just lead to deleted debt and an increased credit score.
#3 OPEN AN ACCOUNT WITH SELF, IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT
Self is an app that opens a loan account for you and reports payments to all 3 major credit agencies. It's super easy to do even with little, no or bad credit and is specifically designed to help improve people's credit scores. It has felxible payment terms, customiziable to your needs. (For the purpose of this article, I will use my own loan as the example).
Essentially, SELF is providing you with a secured loan. In this case the loan is for $500. SELF is different than other loans you may find becuase they do not loan you any cash up front, but rather hold on to the loan amount for you as a sort of savings account. When you have completed your repayment term, SELF then releases the money to you.
I prefer to think of it as a savings account with a specific goal that also happens to be improving my credit as I continue to save every month. (NOTE: Understanding credit scores can be complicated and could be multiple articles in themselves. For the purpose of this, I am relying on my personal experiences and research on improving and maintaining credit scores. I have assisted friends and coworkers as well as navigated my own. My own score went from mid 400s to low 700s over the course of a few months).
SELF is pretty straight forward and explains itself clearly during the sign up process. Just remember, the key for credit score success is to ALWAYS pay your bill on time. I selected a $25 per month payment structure for 24 months and set my account up for automatic payments to ensure a payment is never late. I would encourage you to do the same thing, especially if you have trouble with deadlines.
"So what's the catch?"
SELF charges a one time $9 administration fee upon account set up and charges roughly 14% interest on the loan. If you are able to pay more than your minimum payment amount or pay off your loan early, you will pay less in interest overall (just like a credit card).
But let's be honest...if you already have an American Express card or other high amount credit line, this probably isn't the best thing for you. However, if you are someone who needs to build or rebuild their credit for whatever reason, then this is a great option for you as it diversifies your credit history (i.e. reports as a loan instead of line of credit). In rebuilding your credit, it is common to need to spend a little money here and there to move yourself ahead in the game.
(Yes, I said game. Credit is a game. You just need to learn the rules).
Lastly, SELF has the opportunity to pay for itself. They send you a $10 check for every friend who signs up using your link. I have recieved a few of these checks myself, so I can verify they actually do it. Think of your administration fee as a helpful thank you payment to a friend!
On that note, if you decide to try SELF out for yourself, I would be honored and thankful if you used my link! Who doesn't want an extra $10?! Then, use your own link when you share SELF with friends so their admin fee can benefit you! SIGN UP HERE: https://self.inc/refer/16655696
#4 STOP DRINKING FOR 2-4 WEEKS (OR MORE)
Sticking with honesty...if you are drinking and you are not working or are stuck at home right now, then why are you drinking anyway? I mean, let's, like, really think about that and consider unpacking it.
Is it out of boredom? Anxiety? Restlessness? Habit? You were used to grabbing a drink after work so now you drink for the nostalgia? It makes you hapy? Whatever the reason ends up being, the baseline is probably consistent and simple:
You don't need to be drinking right now.
Money is tight and the pandemic has made all social functions a thing of the past. Temporarily at least. So, give your body a break and replace that alcohol with juice (or better yet, water!) for an, easy, 2-4 weeks. Heck, as a result, the exercise will probably be easier too! Bonus.
Take the money for that beer, wine, seltzer or handle and save it instead. You were going to spend it anyway, right? So you won't miss it. Put the 6-pack and/or bottle of Cab back on the shelf and move that $10-15 to savings instead.
Even if that's a once a week purchase for you, you'll have saved around $50 by the end of the month. Could be closer to $100 if alcohol is a twice a week purchase. Is it more than that? $200/month? $400? Are you spending $100 a week during a pandemic on alcohol? Hmmm. You could probably significantly change your situation if you put that money elsewhere for a month...or more.
You could even use it to cover the $9 administration fee on your new SELF account.
The bottom line? Nothing bad is going to come from giving your body, your brain and your wallet a 2-4 week break from alcohol. (Except, of course, if you realize you are unable to not drink for 14-30 days. Then, we might want to, maybe, really think about that fact and do some more unpacking). Honestly.
It's quarantine season, you have the time to do some work on yourself if you need to. It's a good time to find out if you might have a problem. Either way, you save money.
#5 PLAY THE LOTTERY
Why not? You could end up a millionaire!
The Powerball happens twice a week. Wednesday and Saturday. It costs $2 to play. You can probably afford to drop $2-4 per week on the chance of becoming a millionaire. One game costs less than a single beer. You can have one less latte each week and take a chance on the lotto instead. I mean, really, why not? (That is, as long as you are over 18).
Personally, I have a Red Bull addiction (I prefer the tropical yellow ones) and once a week I simply put it back on the shelf and get a quick pick Powerball instead. In these decisions, even if I don't win the lottery, I actually still saved money. The energy drink would have cost me $3.50, but the ticket was only $2. With that savings, I can basically play both games of Powerball for the week for the cost of one Red Bull.
To drink some sugar or to be a millionaire? Is that really a question you need to think about? I mean, honestly...?
Sure, you don't get the caffine (or sugar) fix in that moment, but if you win, you could buy a lifetime supply easily! Which means, free, basically. And, yeah, you probably won't win. Don't get your hopes up. Don't plan your life around the possibility of winning the lottery or anything.
Personally, I'd exchance $2 for the chance at $20, let alone $2 million to $200 million. As my dad always said, "if you don't play, it's impossible to win."
#6 READ MORE BOOKS
Gasp! Oh no! Not books!
Yes. Yes, books.
If you enjoy reading, then you probably have a stack of unread books lying on a shelf somewhere. Set a goal to read more of them. Make a goal to read a certain number of pages per day or per week.
If you're not much of an enthusiast, try to find a book on a subject you enjoy. There are literally books about everything. Set a goal to read just one book a month. You have the time. Find a good fiction book to help take your mind away from reality. Find a corner or couch and allow yourself to fall into a make believe world that isn't struggling with a pandemic. You may be surprised how much your mind enjoys the respite and change of scenery.
Even if for only 30 minutes a day. Time adds up and you have plenty of it.
Reading is also cheap entertainment considering how much time you can spend reading a book. A brand new book could cost $10-25, but you could read it over the course of a week - or a month. That's quite a few hours of mental entertainment for a few dozen dollars. You'd spend that on a 2-hour movie. Why not on a two week book?
Wanna save even more money? Buy second hand books from resellers like your local Goodwill and you'll probably spend less than $3 for any book. $3! That's less than the Red Bull, latte or beer. You could spend less than $10 on 3 books and have some form of entertainment for a month. Or more.
If you havent really given reading a chance in your adult life, I woud highly reccomend it. When you are able to read about things you enjoy or genres you have an affinity for - when you get to choose what you read - it's quite more interesting than the books you were forced to read in high school or college. And let's be honest...how many of us only ever really read books in school?
It's ok if that's you. But try it again. For yourself. Challenge your brain. Or at the very least, pick up some word heavy magazines and read more of them. Let yourself learn. Be entertained. You have the time.
We're in a pandemic. We're quarantined. We are supposed to stay 6 feet away from people. We have the time do to things we didn't have the time for before. We need to find new things to do with the extra time we find ourselves with. The time we can use for ourselves.
Personal growth is a beautiful thing.
If you are like me, you need to live inexpensively while still enjoying life. At least, find whatever enjoyment you can duirng worldwide-quarantine-pandemic-plague-realness. And you know what? You have the time to make some positive changes in your life so you can come out of this pandemic better than you went in. It's entirely possible to do! One day at a time, one goal at a time, one decision at a time.
Because, lets be real honest...if you don't do something now, when you have the time, when everyone's life structure has required some adjustments, WHEN WILL YOU?
It's been 7 months. The time is now. You can still make 2020 a good year for you personally.
Don't be your own excuse. Come out of this pandemic better. Take a chance. What do you have to lose? You may even win the lottery!
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