By Cara Hunt
Tribune Features Writer
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected just about every individual in the world to varying degrees when it comes to finances.
While some people still have a job and receive a paycheque, others are finding it a challenge to survive.
This week, Tribune Woman talked to three women who candidly discussed how the current pandemic has affected their finances and the lessons they’ve learned during this time of economic uncertainty.
Jayleen, a single 33-year-old woman in the financial industry, said thankfully she can work from home and receive her full salary.
“I know that I am very blessed in that the only challenge I have is obviously cabin fever and missing the outside world. I have still been able to pay my bills and my mortgage, and so financially this has not been as challenging as I know it has been for a lot of other people. For me, the big lesson I learned is just how much money I spend on my personal maintenance and social activity,” she said.
“After paying my March bills I noticed that I had a significant amount of money left over. And then it hit me that the extra money is what I would usually spend going to the hairdresser every week, getting nails and lashes and facials, going shopping, having brunch and a girls’ night out. I have to admit, it was hundreds of dollars.”
Jayleen decided to make use of the extra funds to pay on her credit card bill.
“I realised that this was the perfect time to knock out some of my debt. I have an account that I used for savings and I also added some money to that. So my COVID-19 lesson will be to look at how I can still look the way I want and go out, but on a budget, because it is just way too much money that I was spending and not even realising it,” she said.
Meanwhile, Christine, a married 35-year-old hotel worker with three children, finds herself in a very different boat. She said her family has exhausted their savings to keep their heads above water.
“My husband and I had good hotel jobs and we made enough for a nice life. We even had some savings, because tourism is always an industry with low and high seasons. But never did we think the hotels would close completely. This is crazy; we are struggling,” she said.
“I am learning to shop smarter for my family; I am using stamps. I am buying my meat wholesale, which works out to be cheaper. We used to have fast food at least three or four times a week; now it is just a sporadic treat. We are talking with the bank about deferring our mortgage payment. When our savings are exhausted, who knows what will happen. Thankfully, we have the union, NIB and the help of family and friends so we know somehow we will be able to feed our kids. We just are trying to stay afloat as best we can until things open back up.
“I think my COVID-19 lesson will be the value of a side hustle and the value of saving. A two-month emergency fund is nothing. I really don’t want to ever be in this kind of position again, so we will be trying to figure out how to get extra income we can rely on when the hotel industry has another low season and how to save more if we make more in a high season.”
Litheria, a 25-year-old beautician with a three-year-old son, is also feeling the sting of the economic shutdown, and quite severely at that.
“Not too many people are getting their hair done now and as a self-employed person I am shamed to say I didn’t do what I needed to do to be able to get assistance. I am living day by day; once my baby eats I feel better,” she said.
“I am just getting groceries however I can. This church is giving today, that organisation is giving tomorrow, and adding to that the lil’ bit of money that I have been able to make. It is rough. My landlord has been as understanding as can be. I plaited her hair, her mother’s hair and her kids hair because I was short the March rent. April...I don’t know what I am going to do. I guess the lesson is that as a self-employed person I have to get myself together. I need to make sure I’m doing what I need to do to be straight. I need to get my finances together, maybe talk to someone who could help me budget and learn to save and stuff. You know what it is to look at your baby and not know if you can feed him tomorrow? I don’t want feel like this ever again.”