Personal Finance

7 Ways Your Life Should Change Before the Next Pandemic

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The coronavirus changed nearly everything — from the way we work and play, to how we interact with loved ones. Many of these changes were not welcome.

Thankfully, things have begun to return to something closer to normalcy. But it is doubtful we will quickly forget the lessons we learned in this difficult time.

And that’s a good thing. Hard times will reappear at some point. By changing your life today — or in the near future — you will be better equipped the next time the going gets tough.

Following are some key changes that you should adopt if you plan to survive and thrive in a post-pandemic world.

Start exercising more and eating better

Here’s the honest truth about COVID-19: If you are young and healthy, you stand a much better chance of surviving a bout with the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The vast majority of COVID-19 fatalities involve people who are older and/or who have health issues — such as obesity, diabetes and heart-related problems. You can’t control your age, but you certainly can take charge of your health.

To state it bluntly, if you choose nights on the couch over evenings at the gym — or even strolling through the park — you are putting your life at risk. The same is true if you grab that sugary soda instead of a nice, cool glass of water.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that 78% of people hospitalized for COVID-19 infection were overweight or obese, with fully half falling into the latter category. Eat right and exercise so that your immune system will purr like a Ferrari when you really need it.

Pursue careers that allow remote work

We have all learned the value of work that can be done from the comfort of our bedrooms or home offices. Tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs during the pandemic. Many of those jobs were in industries — service, restaurants, retail — where working from home is not an option.

So, if you are starting out in life, consider careers where a computer, smartphone and similar technology allows you to work from virtually anywhere. If you are a bit older, consider retraining for such a career.

For more, check out the latest advice in our Work From Home Q&A series.

And remember, you can find the latest work-from-home opportunities at specialized online job boards like FlexJobs.

Stop spending, start saving

Did you ever imagine that federal and state governments would effectively prohibit you from working? It’s a safe bet that few of the roughly 40 million people who lost their jobs in 2020 ever planned for such a scenario.

When the coronavirus arrived in the U.S., hard-working, healthy people lost their livelihoods in an instant — and with almost no warning — when businesses were closed to prevent its spread. Workers who had some savings put away likely took this news better than their colleagues who lived paycheck to paycheck.

Make sure you always have a solid emergency fund. For tips on building one, check out “9 Tips for Starting an Emergency Fund Today.”

Make your home a castle

Here at Money Talks News, we are never going to suggest spending recklessly so you can turn your home into a Taj Mahal. In all money matters, we insist that prudence is the key to building a solid financial foundation.

Having said that, we also are more aware than ever that there is no place like home. When you spend most of your waking — and sleeping — hours in the same place, day after day for weeks on end, you quickly learn how important it is to love where you live.

So, if that new kitchen or home theater system will really make your heart sing, consider making the splurge. Just don’t go overboard. If you need a little help deciding where to spend, check out “19 Home Renovations That Give Owners the Most Joy.”

Learn to become self-reliant

When a pandemic rolls into town, weird stuff starts happening:

  • Your doctor suddenly refuses to see you face to face.
  • Your church locks its doors.
  • Your hairstylist wishes you luck with the Rapunzel look.

We may live in the modern world, but we’ve all learned that the social ties that bind us are a lot more fragile than we thought. So, learn to take matters into your own hands — from cutting your own hair to repairing things around the house.

Yes, we’re all in this together. But when the going gets tough, we may find ourselves all alone.

Explore the great outdoors more often

From the movies to the ballpark, many of our most cherished forms of entertainment evaporated in an instant last year.

But parks remained open. You could still take a long walk, run or bicycle ride through the neighborhood. And millions discovered the simple joys of bird-watching.

Even a pandemic can only reach so deeply into our lives. Once experts told us that our risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus is much lower outdoors, we took to fresh-air hobbies in droves. Keep up the habit, so you will have an outlet the next time we encounter a virus or other societal disruption.

Give up the navel-gazing once and for all

Even in the 21st century, extended adolescence seems to be a goal. From the “me decade” of the 1970s to today, many of us have done our level best to avoid growing up.

That time is over.

Yes, the pandemic has shown us that there are moments when we must rely upon ourselves. But it has also reminded us of the importance of being there for one another. So, find the time to volunteer and give back. It will likely make you happier.

As we reported in “9 Habits Happy People Use to Make Life Better“:

“One way happy people show generosity is by volunteering their time and talents. To maximize the happiness you get out of this habit, volunteer with an eye toward a specific goal. According to a Stanford researcher, having concrete giving goals creates more happiness than vague ones.”

When your life — and the lives of loved ones — are threatened, money, materialism and worldly success don’t mean much. The ties that bind are what counts.

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