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Hello From Shelter In Place California!

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I’ve been taking the physical side of COVID-19 seriously for quite a while. Staying home. Washing hands. I haven’t hugged or touched my parents or my husband’s parents in three weeks. My mother sometimes parks her car in front of our home. We wave and blow kisses from the porch. The physical separation is rough, especially for our kids who are too young to really understand what is going on.

Stupidly, I didn’t realize the seriousness of the financial side until last week. I received the infamous ‘Your job is safe’ e-mail…which is usually followed by a layoff notice the following week. We all make jokes about it at work, the more your employer says your job is safe, the less safe it is. I am a government employee and we are an essential service but we are not safe from furloughs or layoffs. Revenues are down more than 50%. The math simply doesn’t work to keep us all employed. I don’t know how long I’ll keep my job.

On Friday, my father-in-law lost his job. My sister lost hers. My brother, sister, and father (all at the same company) are on the edge. I would be surprised if they lasted through the week. They all live paycheck to paycheck.

I can’t save them all. But I can’t in good conscience spend $50 on non-essentials when I know that $50 could help with their grocery bill or keep their lights on. I’m hoping for the best but planning for the worst. What does that look like?

1) We are limiting spending to essentials only. The only real money going out other than the standard mortgage/utilities/etc. is for groceries and we rerouted that spending. We are staying hyper-local as much as possible. We support the mom and pop grocery markets. The produce farmers. The egg ranchers. I understand the folks at the big box stores need help too but bouncing back from this is so much harder for the little guys.

2) I cancelled all my work travel (who wants to fly now anyway?!?). My work doesn’t reimburse for trips until they are complete. I keep $2,000 in a separate account for work travel. It was down to nearly zero since I had prepaid for several trips. I have cancelled all of them and have received full refunds so I can add that $2,000 to the emergency fund if needed.

3) I cancelled all subscriptions. Music subscription? Gone. Amazon Subscribe and Save? Gone. We haven’t had cable tv or streaming subscriptions in years otherwise I would have cut those too.

4) I’m using this time to color my hair. Huh? OK, let me explain. I’ve never colored my own hair. I’m terrified to end up like Ronald McDonald. Matching my natural red is so tricky! Now that I’m ‘sheltering in place’ for the next few weeks, it sounds like a good time to try it out. Who cares if I mess it up? No one is going to see me! If it works out, I could see my stylist less often and save on my budget. I’ll let you know how it turns out. And yes, I am aware this isn’t essential but it’s the one time that I’m home for a prolonged period and I’m jumping on the opportunity. Plus, it might bring some joy (or more likely, much needed hilarity) into my life.

5) My husband is taking a LOT of side work. Typically, he’d decline poorly timed jobs since we can mostly survive on my income but these days, but he’s chasing down every clogged sink and every water heater replacement. It means he’s working until 2 am more than I’d like.

Friends, we are in a storm. I don’t know how big this storm is or how long it will last. Worst case scenario, we make fiscally conservative decisions and we hold on. Best case, we are overreacting. We build a stash we can use for big projects later.

Don’t assume your job is safe. Don’t use this time at home to spend in your boredom. Stay off Amazon! Hold tight.

Let’s hope for Best Case…


7 Comments

  • Reply Laura |

    Tell your family members to file for unemployment immediately, if they haven’t already.

  • Reply Hibiscus |

    And be sure to state it was due to coronavirus related reasons/coronavirus loss of business, etc! Say it loud, say it proud! The government will be looking to hide various numbers and deny benefits, but if you attribute your issues to coronavirus they cannot deny unemployment etc.

  • Reply Jessica |

    This is so terrifying 🙁 I miss my family, too. I havent seen my mom, brother, sister, nieces and nephews in weeks. I went to the grocery store yesterday for the first time in 2 weeks and they were spraying down all the carts with spray machines and I lost it – started crying right there in the doorway. They had spots taped off on the floor to keep carts away from each in line and the cashiers were wiping down each station after every customer. I read an updated study today that Covid can actually travel up to 27 feet and not 6 feet like is being promoted (those are outdated guidelines) everyone needs to think twice before going out even if they are practicing “social distancing”. (I’m in NY – not near NYC, but prepared for it to get worse. My county has about 700 cases)

  • Reply Margann34 |

    I have colored by own hair for years. I started going grey in my 20s. My natural hair color is black so it is VERY noticeable. And my hair grows very fast which means I need a dye job every 3-4 weeks. I REFUSE to pay $40 a pop for that. It took a little trial and error but I found a brand and color that matches my hair. I always dye my hair a few days before important events because I inevitabley get the dye all over my neck and ears. Spread an old towel out on the counter, have a old washcloth handy and use a cape. I make one out of a trash bag. I also cut my own hair once or twice a year. And i cut my 3 daughters hair. Hair cutting is more practical for long hair styles. Good luck!

  • Reply Christy |

    I have been fretting endlessly about my husband’s job. These are scary times. The thing that freaks me out the most is not knowing when it will be over.

    And don’t even get me started on the grocery stores. My husband had to go to 3 stores this morning to get what we usually buy at 1 store. I honestly feel like we have to go to more stores now than we ever did in the past. It stresses me out.

So, what do you think ?