Surviving the Harsh Economic Realities of Post COVID-19
By Ebuka Onyekwelu
The economic situation all over the world pointedly suggests that a lifestyle of heavy spending or careless expenditure of any sort cannot be sustained for the rich, the middle class and the poor. What this means therefore is that people have need for major adjustments in other to be able to avert severe financial crisis and at least manage their finances without lack of basic amenities which they previously could afford.
Part of the lessons of COVID-19 is that some pre COVID-19 expenses are not sustainable and so cannot be carried over into post COVID-19. Already, some of us have discovered to our amazement during the lock downs, that there are a few things which we until then, had assumed are core, only to realize that we were able to live without those things through the lock downs. For instance, many people especially men had a lifestyle of daily routine evening socials which usually take a toll on their pockets but when the lockdown forced everyone inside, some quickly learned they can do without the routine evening outings. The point is that COVID-19 created new realities which rendered many pre COVID-19 lifestyles unnecessary. Frankly, many pre COVID-19 lifestyles do not seem to appear economically compactable with post COVID-19 realities. One’s economic class notwithstanding, the next six months looks like people need to tighten their belts to be able to keep their heads above the water level. Already, millions of people around the world are out of jobs on account of COVID-19. For most countries where there is no structured system and robust governance, millions of citizens may be stranded and not able to eat. Though before now, thousands of people go to bed daily in Nigeria hungry, according to a UNDP report. The 2020 World Food Programme report claimed that 60% of Nigerians live below the poverty line. That is to say that over one hundred million Nigerians live on less than N400 daily. A plate of food at a local eatery is about N300. With that, it means that in Nigeria, millions of people do not eat more than once in a day. This dangerous trend as bizarre as it is, is further deepened by conflicts in the northern region which has displaced millions of people, forcing them to be dependent on government and NGO handouts. Then again, there is recurrent herdsmen attacks and willful destruction of cultivated farm lands across the entire country, which negatively impact food production. An aggregation of these facts into perspective sends a gloomy message of the future. While the unemployment rate was high before now, many more jobs have been lost and many more may still be lost. Whatever may be the case however, the truth of the matter from every standpoint imaginable is that the economic times have changed, altered even and anybody still living under the pre COVID-19 economy may be asking for trouble. Even though before now, many middle class and poor Nigerians have depended on frequent financial assistance and aid from relatives and friends. But now, the situation is different and even those that previously gave help may need help themselves. The import of these is that whatever was wrong before may have doubled. And this is putting it mildly in comparison to the brutal reality on ground. Therefore it is advised that people apply caution in their propensity to expend or part ways with their cash, not minding how little. More attention must be paid to every single detail.
Latest reports suggest that the worst is still ahead. Quite frankly, no one can say for sure. We do not know what is ahead of us but if anything, this should help us make the necessary hard decisions that will help us stay on a safe side.
In line with the demands of the time however, people must be intentional about how they spend their money. For most people, the challenge is that they spend as they earn, they just spend without any form of planning. Generally, people are just not deliberate about how they spend their money and this explains in part why many working class are easily out of cash and broke. Most times, it is not just because people do not earn enough. It is also because they do not plan their expenditures side by side their income. To confidently face the days ahead, people should be able to say in specific terms how much they spend on basic needs over a week or a month. Maintaining high financial probity and accountability is crucial. It is indeed important for people to have multiple sources of income, leveraging on the new opportunities created by the pandemic. Items like hand sanitizers have become essential for individuals, households and corporate organizations and therefore good business. There are also many other opportunities in service industry like home deliveries of items at a fee easily affordable. Most importantly, whatever income earned, people should be able to say how much money they make on the whole in a week or a month, just as they should be able to say how much money they spend on food, internet subscription, phone calls, home essentials and etc, and if possible, keep records. With such meticulous effort at being accountable to one’s self, it becomes easier to track one’s expenses and excesses, and thereby easier to cut down on needless expenditures. This will certainly go a long way to help.
It is important that we all imbibe disciplined spending and saving culture, by not buying what we do not really need and by saving as much as we can. Actually, no matter how bad the economy will get, it will be fair for those who have good and disciplined saving scheme such that they may not run out of basic needs, but very detrimental for those who do not save. In any case, starting to save now may be late but will help secure the future to the best of one’s ability. To be able to save, one has to be able to spend cautiously.
This however, does not suggest in any way that what is ahead of us is dreadful. The fact is that living in post COVID-19 economy, some attitudes towards money, spending and saving have to be properly aligned in a way that provides some cover from the harsh economic realities that are now with us and to avoid being stranded financially, people have to live according to the dictates of the time.
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