Personal Finance and COVID-19

by Apr 2, 2020COVID-19, Personal Finance

In addition to the health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, most humans with a pulse are concerned about their personal finances.  

Let’s go over good, bad and ugly consequences of the evil virus.


The Bad

Let’s recap:

  • A ridiculously fast and violent stock market crash.
  • Some products are more expensive because of simple supply & demand – if you can even find them.
  • Some products are proportionally more expensive because we can’t buy them in bulk (think TP).
  • Sometimes, the only brands left on the shelf are the most expensive ones.
  • And the final killer: likely less work, i.e. less income.

The Ugly

Of course, with a good crisis comes the worst in humanity.

  • Beware of scams, it seems that they are getting more prevalent lately. For example, be aware of investment scams. “Pump and dump” fraudsters might lure you into investing in the next hot company that allegedly will come up with the next test or treatment for coronavirus.
  • There are countless reports of people stealing TP and hand sanitizer.
  • Employers should be very aware of the possibility of embezzlement during such frightening times.
  • Be very careful about which emails, and especially which attachments, you open. There are reports of hacking email accounts or worse, hacking of business information through remote workers, who are more vulnerable to data breaches. Beware of any new or suspicious sender of an email containing the word COVID. Also make sure your antivirus software (no pun intended) is up-to-date.
  • Some stores and online sellers are simply taking advantage of the situation to raise their prices. For example, on March 18, 2020, Newsweek revealed that the store chain Menards was “accused of price gouging face masks, bleach and other cleaning products amid coronavirus panic.”

The Good

Before you get too depressed, let’s look at the silver lining: some expenses are down…

  • Travel has essentially stopped, which means you’re saving on flights, trains, hotels, restaurants, happy hour and conferences.
  • Eating out is not a thing in most locations anymore. As long as you can resist the drive-through, take advantage of the situation to empty your pantry and your freezer. Surely you’ll find treasures in there! Canned sardines from 1987, anyone?
  • This is also a great time to cook at home and save a significant amount of money while eating healthier.
  • Going out to party (bars, clubs, axe throwing) and have fun (movie theaters, concerts, casinos, escape rooms) is also a thing of the past. Sadly, this is going to put many small businesses out of business…but it helps your pocketbook in the short term.
  • Childcare services. Of course this may lead to all kinds of complicated situations at home, but from a financial standpoint, the lack of daycare facilities may help you save money.
  • Gas money. Less travel means less need for gas. That could mean hundreds in savings each month. Driving less also leads to less wear and tear on your car.
  • Awareness. Nothing makes you aware of being conservative like a good TP shortage. Same with paper towels and hand sanitizer!
  • Impulse buying. Less time spent in stores means you are less likely to buy things on impulse.
  • Interest paid on debt could be decreased if you were to refinance, now that interest rates have come down.
  • Gyms. With gyms closed, you can save money by working out at home. People are getting creative, using ordinary items such as cans and laundry detergent as weights.
  • Self-care. With salons closed, you may be forced to save on self-care: mani/pedi, hair color, massages etc. This does not mean that you should totally forego self-care – in a different manner – when you may need it the most mentally.
  • Student loans. For most federal student loans, you have a 6 month break from both payments and interest. This is a rare occasion, so be mindful of what you will do with the money you’re saving.
  • If you owe taxes, the other good news is the deadline to file was pushed from April 15 to July 15, 2020.

So not everything related to the virus is doom and gloom. As humans, we will need to focus on the positive to drown out the negative.

Fortunately, veterinary professionals are resilient, adaptable and creative, which are the very traits we need to survive this crisis.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS
Meredith Jones, DVM
Co-Founders of Veterinary Financial Summit