We have almost made it. 2020 has certainly been tough for our community, our country, and our world. A post-pandemic future appears to be somewhere on the horizon. We still have a long way to go to get there. For now, with a new year right around the corner, I have a few thoughts to share:
Personal situations have shifted.
Regardless of what your finances looked like to start 2020, odds are you are not in the same situation now. The pace of change this year has been staggering. Millions of families are grappling with unemployment, the death of loved ones, unexpected medical bills, household turmoil, hunger, and countless other woes. Unforeseen financial burdens are taking heavy tolls.
Many others are seeing their savings go up and debt loads go down, from reductions in travel, limitations on social gatherings, and cancellations of annual events. Working remotely is commonplace. The classroom is the kitchen counter. Living spaces are being reimagined to handle business, school, fitness, and safe socialization under one roof. Americans are figuring it all out as best they can.
Inequality is in the spotlight.
2020 has brought the social and economic divisions in our country to the forefront. The resources available to the privileged and the systematic restraints on the underprivileged are front and center. The fortunate dug into the stay-at-home and work-at-home lifestyle. Those less so took on health risks for paychecks, lacking control over where and how they made a living.
As school systems closed, remote learning required speedy internet, up-to-date tech, and a supportive home life. Those with means made the transition relatively smoothly. Those without have likely suffered educational setbacks.
Folks with investable assets are seeing solid returns in the stock market, while others are simply struggling to put food on the table each week. The pandemic has brought unforeseen difficult circumstances and obstacles to many while merely inconveniencing others. Everyone will remember this life altering event for starkly different reasons.
More change is coming.
In the coming months, the ebbs and flows between financial stability and instability will likely continue. COVID-19 will steer the finances and lifestyles of Americans throughout most of 2021. Businesses that have barely hung on will shutter as the pandemic rages on. More workers will be forced to seek out new ways to earn an income.
Those with steady employment will keep seeing their savings jump, at least until the pandemic is better under control. The housing market, construction, and other home-related industries should have solid years ahead. A big uptick in delayed consumption is coming, as people find their comfort levels with what the future has in store.
Hang in there.
To put it mildly, 2020 has been quite a year. Rest assured that normalcy will return, gradually. Travel will make a comeback, offices will reopen, people will return to restaurants, bars, and stores. Some trends will be here to stay. Zoom Happy Hours. I am looking at you. Others will go down in the history books.
The list of lessons learned from a year of complete upheaval is long. The silver linings we have clung to are innumerable as well. Top of my list? Being able to have more quality time with my family. How about yours?
Like all years, 2021 will bring its own unique challenges. As we move forward, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Lend a hand to others if you are able and willing. Let us know if we may be of any help navigating the financial road ahead.
Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year.