Covid so far. A few personal lessons

May 6th, 2020

Everything is up in the air right now, suspended in this kinda purgatory between pre and post Covid-19. We can all acknowledge things will never be the same and I don’t want them to.

To start, I am more than aware that Covid-19 is an awful situation. I do not see THIS as the world’s much-needed shakeup. It is what it is and more so than ever we can all be grateful for the sacrifice and efforts of frontline workers. The true celebrities who were always more inspiring than Hollywood. Sadly, it did feel like we needed COVID to put into perspective the toxicity of modern celebrity culture.

I’m not here to write about the negatives. I’m here to write my top-level thoughts on COVID and the shared feeling that I do not want things to go back to the way they were before.

We were moving too fast, running the rat race and desperately trying to move upwards. We were all in such a rush. Going somewhere, but nowhere.

Maybe this is a wake-up call. It certainly is for me.

This pause has given many of us the time to think, where others have had no time to think, working harder and more dangerously than ever before. Those of us who have had time to stop and think has taken the opportunity to assess what they miss, what is truly import and what are the everyday commodities we can go without.

No doubt for many of us, the things we miss most are family, friends, social connection and freedom. Sure, we miss our coffee, pizza, drives to the countryside and Friday night drinks. I kinda do. But more than often we miss these things because of the people we spend time with.

I’m struggling to get on digital paper the best way to articulate these thoughts. Better writers and great businesses have already done an amazing effort at publishing their thoughts on the pre/post COVID world.

But I need to write every day and commit to publishing, so here are the three main things that jump out from personal COVID learnings.

Home is truly my home

I live in Edinburgh. It is the best city in the world. There is no other city I’d rather live. But ultimately Edinburgh is not the one place I want to be. City living is great, don’t get me wrong. The noise and constant things to do always keeps me engaged. I love meeting new people and forming new relationships. Cities are amazing for that. And pubs, lots of pubs.

But my hometown in Assynt, at least right now, is the one place I want to be. Away from the noise, in the hills and by the sea. Where less is more. Where the constraints of small village living become a beauty in itself.

I always gravitate towards home, as I truly see Assynt as one of the hidden gems on this planet. The sandy white beaches, swaying hills and scenic mountains. I miss them every day. It is my ambition to make Assynt my home again, one day soon.

If you could live in one place forever, where would it be? What are the challenges you would need to overcome to make it a reality, and what is stopping you from making the move right now?

It is easy to support local

I was guilty of going to supermarkets daily, mainly for lunch and dinner alongside a few other items that caught my eye. Within walking distance are a beer shop, butchers, fishmongers, coffee shop and health food store stocked with seasonal fruit and vegetables. I could have done the whole weekly shop on a single street, 5 minutes from the house. Instead, I went to Tesco.

Because it is easier? To save money? Nah, it was because I was being lazy and didn’t want to put much effort into thinking about it. I know Tesco will have most the things needed, simple.

It is a bad excuse. How would I feel running a local business if people were choosing to walk past my shop to purchase from the multinational across the road? I’d feel pretty gutted. Maybe even lose hope.

Every so often we would visit the local shops, but more for a ‘treat’ than everyday shopping. Only during COVID has it put it into perspective how businesses rely on local customers, and that they are not a relic of the past, but a big part of community orientated future. We should have before, but now more than ever we need to stick by our local communities and businesses.

Even if it does cost me a few extra pounds per week (it doesn’t by the way)I’ll save money on all the crap I didn’t buy when visiting the supermarket.

Understanding personal finances

So many of us appear to have been caught off guard with Covid’s impact on our finances. Living month to month and eager for the next payday, so we can do it all again. Pre COVID that was pretty much me, with only a bit of salary going into savings and pensions.

I’m fortunate for not being furloughed and being able to remain active in my current role. If I did lose my job, Kate and I would have been fine but there would have been a more drastic adjustment to our outgoings. We wouldn’t last long though.

This spurred me to review our outgoing costs, condense recurring purchases, cancel unnecessary subscriptions and review our service providers to cut furthers cost. We should have done this in the first place. I’ve shaved about £150 a month off our monthly spend with a few simple changes.

I’ve also consolidated my direct debits and monthly outgoings, resulting in fewer (sometimes unexpected) charges coming out my account.

Could you get 2kg of coffee per month rather than 8 x 250g bags maybe? Could you get 15kg of dog food rather 10 x 1.5kg bags? What about your direct debits all coming out on payday rather than spread throughout the month? These are just my examples. Have a look at last months spend. Remove just one monthly recurring spend and feel a bit better about your day.

Reducing the number of daily transactions, subscriptions, outgoings and things to concentrate means more time on the things that do matter.

Summary

I’m learning every day and Covid-19 means taking each day as it comes. But I’m using this time to reflect, learn and refine. I’ll be smarter and more prepared next time, for whatever challenge life throws at me.

That is about being more financial switched on, supporting my locals and creating a path that will bring me home.