To say our world has been turned upside down as a result of the pandemic is an understatement. Businesses have scrambled to find new ways to stay open or have shut their doors until further notice causing so many Canadians to be laid off with little or no savings. Panic stricken, so many were left wondering how to pay basic necessities like rent, groceries and utilities. Help, we were told, was on its way.
On the bright side, this is a very good week for most Canadians. Unemployment cheques (EI) are rolling in, GST credits and the much needed CERB (Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit) was finally deposited into bank accounts. In fact, many people received both an EI cheque and the CERB as a result of timing. Some even reported receiving a double CERB amount which represents April and May benefits. A much needed windfall in a time of need.
The majority of those that receive these amounts will do the right thing and catch up on rent and other bills and squirrel away the rest for expenses to come. But there will always be those who don’t plan for the rainy day and spend it all the day it comes in. As a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, administering consumer bankruptcies and proposals, I can attest to that. It’s important to remember that the Feds rolled out these plans to help you pay living expenses, not shop at Amazon.
The good news about the pandemic, if there is any, is that it has forced every one of us to look at our income and expenses. When the money wasn’t there to pay basic living, everyone determined their priorities. There was no money for wants. The needs took over. We learned that if we are forced to live below our means, while not easy, we could survive. This is a lesson we need to remember long after Covid-19 has passed.
With us all heeding Stephen McNeil’s warning of “Stay the Blazes home”, impulse spending is gone. We are hunkered down at home with loved ones, working from laptops, zooming with friends, learning how to teach grade 4 to our children, baking cinnamon buns or sewing protective masks. We are not on our way to work grabbing a latte, meeting friends for dinners, going to theater or headed to the shopping malls for clothes. Impulse spending is almost eradicated. It is actually a perfect time to save the money that you would have otherwise spent on wants and focus on the more important things in life.