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Opinion: coronavirus has taught us some valuable financial lessons

Lovemoney logo Lovemoney 19/05/2020 lovemoney.com

Woman working from home Woman working from home

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Lockdown has given us time to reflect on how we live and manage our cash. It's important we learn lessons from it, says John Fitzsimons.

There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s been a rough couple of months for everyone. 

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More on coronavirus:

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Lockdown laws: What has changed? (PA)

How to stay safe working, travelling and shopping (Sky News)

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The death toll has been absolutely horrendous, and even those of us who have been fortunate enough to avoid falling ill have had our way of life completely changed. 

Video: Furlough extension: What does it mean for workers and businesses? (Press Association)

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But there have been some positives to come out of the dreadful coronavirus situation. And they offer us the chance to make some real, lasting changes to the way we manage money in the future.

Digging deep

The idea of the ‘big society’ that David Cameron came out with was mocked, and not without good reason. But the truth is that, as a nation, we do dig deep for good causes.

Colonel Tom Moore is the best example of this, with the then-99 year old raising an extraordinary £33 million for NHS Charities Together by walking laps of his garden.

It’s a story that captured the heart of the country, and even saw Tom promoted from captain to colonel.

a group of people posing for the camera: Colonel Tom Moore raised an extraordinary £33 million for NHS Charities Together by walking laps of his garden. (Image: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images) © Provided by Lovemoney Colonel Tom Moore raised an extraordinary £33 million for NHS Charities Together by walking laps of his garden. (Image: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images)

It’s not the only example either.

Jay Flynn started doing virtual pub quizzes on YouTube at the outset of the lockdown, with the intention of entertaining his friends, and asking for donations to the same charity. 

But it has taken off to an extraordinary degree, with more than 180,000 watching each week, including my wife and I, raising more than £150,000 in the process.

Now Flynn has launched a Patreon, with the intention of raising even more cash for charity through his quizzes.

Food donations or food delivery concept. Box with oil, pasta, cereals, canned food, fruits, vegetables. Food donations or food delivery concept. Box with oil, pasta, cereals, canned food, fruits, vegetables.

Across the country, people are putting themselves out, going above and beyond to provide entertainment, inspire and raise money for excellent causes. 

And time and again the British public put their hands in their pockets and support them.

Of course, it would be far better if these charities didn’t need to exist, and those in need ‒ like the health service ‒ were properly funded. But I take hope from the fact that when Government fails to put the money in, the public picks up the slack.

Doing what needs to be done

As for the Government, you have to accept that it has offered an extraordinary level of financial support to individuals through things like the furlough scheme, the bounce back loan and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. 

This help is far from perfect ‒ there are plenty of people that work for themselves that aren’t able to get some badly-needed backing. But it has still meant that millions of people are in a less dire financial position than would have otherwise been the case.

Gallery: How the world's economies recovered from previous crises (lovemoney)

What’s more, despite press reports, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak declined to strip back the furlough scheme at the first opportunity, instead extending it in full until October.

State help is not something you might expect from this Government, which makes the level of assistance on offer even more notable.

Only time will tell if governments of all stripes recognise that the state has plenty to offer to improve all of our lives.

What really matters

The time at home has given all of us an opportunity to reassess how we live our lives, how we spend our money, and what really matters.

As a family, we eat pretty well but I know that I am far too eager to get a takeaway. That hasn’t been an option, and it’s meant that my physical and financial health has reaped the rewards.

Letters in letterbox saying payment due © Sean Gladwell Letters in letterbox saying payment due

Others may now look at the ways they used to spend their disposable cash each month and question whether it was really worth it. If and when things reach the new normal, will they be so willing to spend that much on clothes, nights out, or whatever?

It goes the other way too.

Some of us will see areas which we appreciate even more now that they aren’t quite so accessible, and will hope to address that once things loosen more.

A better way to work

Lockdown has also opened the eyes of plenty of staff and their employers to the potential offered by working from home more regularly.

a person sitting at a table using a laptop computer: All sorts of people are realising they can get just as much work done from home. (Image: Shutterstock) © Provided by Lovemoney All sorts of people are realising they can get just as much work done from home. (Image: Shutterstock)

I’ve had bosses in the past who were very sniffy about the idea, but the truth is all sorts of people are realising they can get just as much done from home, without having to worry about the commute or the office dramas.

It doesn’t work for everyone, and even as somebody who has worked from home for four years I can tell you that it hasn’t been all that smooth attempting to write with two kids around all day.

But surely this offers an excellent opportunity to review whether it’s really necessary for so many people to troop into offices on a daily basis?

It’s time to make a change

This has been a dreadful time, forcing people to separate from their loved ones, and leaving many with significant money worries. But there are always lessons to take from times of hardship.

The important thing about these lessons is that we actually learn them properly, and put them to use in the future, rather than forgetting them at the first sign of a beer garden or a cheap flight to Tenerife.

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Stay at home as much as possible to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.


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