COVIDiaries: 28-year-old pauses student loan payments to build emergency fund

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In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, many people find their personal finances in complete upheaval. We want to share real stories of how people are coping with the crisis. 

Our new series, the “COVIDiaries” will share individual experiences with how the pandemic is impacting income, savings, debts, and more. You can read more here. We hope you find these stories relatable and reassuring, even if they do nothing more than show you that you are not alone. 

We are all in this together.

If you would like to share your experience of how the Coronavirus is impacting your finances, please fill out the form here

Simone, 28, from Calgary, Alberta

What do you do for work? Has the COVID-19 Pandemic impacted your income in reduced hours, layoffs, work from home or in another way?

I work as a Research Coordinator at the University. I feel so grateful that the pandemic has not impacted my income. I have been working from home for over 4 weeks but my ability to do my job has been impacted significantly. We really have reduced work load at home so it has been difficult to manage how to do my job in these new situations.

How has the COVID-19 Pandemic affected your spending? Are you spending more or less right now? What are you buying and why?

We are definitely spending more. My budget and spending were fairly well balanced before all of this happened. I didn’t have a lot of eating out or coffees to pay for. Our biggest expense was groceries and that has only gone up through this difficult time. We also moved into a new house during this time and had to buy furniture and all the expenses that go into moving.

What about your debts? Are you incurring debt to cope with reduced pay or increased costs? Or are you finding relief in lower interest rates?

We are fortunate that the Canadian government has given us a 6 month payment brake for our student loans. Instead of continuing to make the payments that I can afford, I am putting all the money I would normally spend on my loan payment into my Emergency Fund. We have no idea what the next year looks like so I want to make sure that we are prepared for what might come. My fiance works in Oil & Gas and has not been working since December. We don’t anticipate that his situation will change any time soon so having extra money put away feels like the best thing that I can be doing right now.

Are you concerned about what will happen to your savings and investments at this time? Is this detrimental to your long-term wealth or a once in a lifetime opportunity to get into the stock market? Will you recover from this crisis or be richer or poorer because of it?

I am an aggressive investor with 95% exposure to equities. I am down 200k but I am not too concerned. I have been buying index funds like HXQ, HXT, or HXS every opportunity I have for when the markets fall. I know for a fact that this is NOT the end of the world. Central banks across the world will enhance monetary policy to expedite quantitative easing and the bear market should not last longer than a year

Did the pandemic force you to cancel any trips or special events? How did that impact your bank account (and your mental health!)

I have been working hard over the past 5 years to pay off debt and get my finances in order. I was hoping to start investing in the near future and this feels like the right time for me to start seriously thinking about it. The only concern is being cautious of my monthly cash flow depending on how long this pandemic continues for. Although I have stable employment now, I would worry about losing my job in the future if we are forced to work from home for many months to come. Its for this reason that all my extra money is going into an emergency fund and not straight into the stock market. As long as I continue to have a job for the forseeable future, I hope to be able to put my first chunk of money into

Has the COVID-19 pandemic made you realize anything unexpected about your personal finances? Did you find vulnerabilities or are you more secure than you thought? Will it change how you see and manage money going forward?

Anything else you would like to add?

A big Thank You to Bridget and MAG for all the support they provide on personal finances. Bridget actually helped encourage me to start a side hustle tutoring which helped shape my current financial situation.

Share how your personal finances are being impacted by the Coronavirus here

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