Personal finance blogging during COVID-19: What does it even mean?
Does it matter?
Nurse. Doctor. Teacher. Farmer. Firefighter. EMT. Grocery clerk. Mail carrier. Delivery driver. Personal finance blogger.
One of these things is not like the others…
I am not, nor have I ever been, what anyone would call an “essential worker.” While other people are feeding the hungry and comforting the sick, I’m puttering around my home office trying to come up with synonyms for “big” or “good.” While others save lives and risk their own lives, I’m saving memes and risking running out of hard drive space.
I’ve spent days spinning around in my chair, walking back and forth to the kitchen, looking at food and clothes and furniture I’ll never order, closing tabs only to reopen them immediately (I shouldn’t be on Reddit right now; *types in “reddit.com”*), and most recently, watching Muppets videos (curse you, YouTube algorithm). Some days I’m lucky to get 200 words down. Not very many, as far as a writing career is concerned.
These habits weren’t formed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but our current situation certainly hasn’t helped. My already-lackluster work ethic has nosedived (nosedove?). My writing quality, too. How make sentence do? The word-shapes all clunkerly and nonright.
Does anyone care about personal finance right now?
I’m struggling to write because I’m struggling to think, or at least to think about this. I hate to admit it, but it’s gotten harder to find meaning in this work. Let’s face it—personal finance isn’t exactly the most important topic in the world right now. It definitely isn’t as important as the hundreds of thousands of people who have gotten sick and died over the past few months, or the countless others who are now out of work, starving, or facing homelessness.
It would be an understatement to say that most people’s financial priorities have shifted. More like those people have been unplugged from the Matrix and now see the economy for the dismal, dystopian reality it is—and perhaps always was.
I say “most people” and “those people” because you, dear Think Save Retire reader, might be having an entirely different experience right now. Maybe you realized long ago that conventional ways of making and using money didn’t work for you. Maybe you’ve achieved some level of financial independence, or even retired (or partially retired) early. And maybe, like the founder of this site, you have an emergency fund and a sound, flexible investing strategy that allows you to effectively ride this thing out.
Does anyone care what I have to say about any of this?
Personally, I’m not in any financial distress at the moment. I have plenty of savings. I’m still meeting my short- and long-term goals. In fact, I’ve been able to set aside more money than usual because I’m not spending anything on travel or going out to any bars, movies, concerts, and so forth. I’ve been ordering delivery a few times per month—and tipping extra generously—but my expenditures are lower than they were in pre-pandemic times.
I’ll call this what it is: privilege. And some luck, and a little hustle, but mostly privilege. I’ve never struggled to pay bills, dealt with significant debt, or gone a long period of time without a stable source of income.
Do I have any authority to write about personal finance right now? More to the point—does anyone really care what I have to say?
The answer that shows up immediately in my brain is a clear and resounding NO. Then again…
Then again, feeling bad about myself, my writing, and my privilege is nothing new. I’ve coped with severe anxiety and depression my entire life. I’m old enough to know that I don’t need a reason to say, “I’m not worth it” or “no one cares what I’m doing.”
Then again, this isn’t about me. My job is to inform, educate, and maybe sort of entertain you. My personal history and relationship with money only matters when it supports a larger point or serves a greater purpose.
Then again, this blog is about more than personal finance. It’s about figuring out how to live the life you want to live.
In that sense, maybe personal finance actually matters now more than ever.
Having limited or zero income means you have to seriously budget and stick to good spending habits.
And whatever your situation, there’s never been a more important time to get out of debt.
Meanwhile, if you’re unemployed or underemployed and relatively healthy, this is the time to test-drive retirement. You might not have another chance for a while.
Or, if you’re lucky enough to still have a job or another source of income, this is the time to really look at what you’re doing and how you’re spending your life—to determine if what you’re doing is really what you want to be doing.
Which brings me back to the question that sparked this whole post: Am I doing what I should be doing? Do articles like this mean anything to anyone?
You know what? I think so. If in any small way, I’m helping people live longer, happier, more significant lives, that means something. It’s not essential, per se, but it’s important—it matters.
At the same time, I can’t pretend this is an entirely normal, reasonable way to live or work for the rest of my life. No matter how easy or hard any of us have it, we’re all struggling and sacrificing more than usual right now.
If you’re feeling sad, lonely, overwhelmed, or lost at the moment—well, that’s because you’re human. Maybe your work isn’t essential, but you’re essential.
Remember that. Be responsible with your money and your actions, but be kind to yourself. The world’s hard enough as it is.
Now go watch the Muppets—you’ve earned it.