Corona gave me financial stability.

And man, is that a loaded feeling. Because of coronavirus, I was able to pay off my debt. Because of coronavirus, I now have the largest emergency fund I’ve ever had. Because of coronavirus I was able to self pay for a $1k genetic test that I’ve been waiting a year for. Because of coronavirus my shed to office conversion is happening. I will be able to help other low income and/or disabled people gain more financial security.

And it feels…weird. I feel guilty one minute. Relieved another. Stressed another – how do I handle this sudden influx responsibly? How do I handle it well?

I also got a little angry too. This is what it took to give a disabled person some stability?! They decided that $2,400 EXTRA dollars a month was needed to give people a basic living during corona, but all this time disabled people are living on subsistence amounts – $972 a month in my case. I think we can do better for fellow citizens than this. AND, this is only because I was able to work part time prior to the pandemic. Disabled people who were not working prior to this got nothing – I am only speaking from my own experience.

For a refresher on my financial situation prior to this, read this.

Stimulus and unemployment have paid off my remaining debt from my time off last year due to heart surgery, allowed donations in excess of $2k, set aside $2k for taxes, $1k for genetic testing, and I’ve contributed $10K to my ABLE fund – a special investment account for people with disabilities as we are often excluded from traditional 401k/ira vehicles. My Able account functions as both my efund and my investment account. It’s a major benefit that I can pull from it at anytime with no penalties. I saved/donated upwards of 75% of my unemployment and lived off 25% while cash flowing the office project (blog to come!).

This was a huge relief, and also, staggering. I’ve fought to get ahead for so many years. 8 years since I joined the debt free community and Mr. Money Mustache community with roller coasters of ups and downs. Do I really have stability? Finally? I just might. For a while anyway.

So my job – I’ve told myself – is to use this money as responsibly as I can. I am high risk for Corona and have isolated nearly completely due to it. I haven’t touched a person in almost six months, and I’ve only seen a couple people from 10ft away and masked in all that time. This money may need to last me 1-2 years.

So: I paid off my debt. I’m debt free aside from my house. I owe $45k on my home. I’ve an efund that will cover most any car repair, emergency medical bill, minor home repair, and, if I’m out of work entirely I can live over 12 months on that with a tight budget. My experience of being out of work 3-6 months every 2 years due to surgery or illness (so the last 8 years tells me) just assures me that something ALWAYS happens, and I’d like to prepare.

Since I do not know when work will begin again for me, as people are not taking vacations for who knows how long and my high risk status, I’m trying to set myself up for the year. In addition to the above, I prepaid nearly all my utilities for the year. I could make it through 2020 without unemployment/or working income on a very tight budget should I need to.

I also have helped a number of other people through giving. I’ve had mixed reactions to my giving. Some people feel I should be saving every penny and shoring up myself. I may have been too generous for a bit, but there are complex emotions that go into that. I have been in the position to be financially supported by friends, gofundme’s, and you, my online friends several times – just last year while I was out of work for over 6 months! Those gifted funds got me through. Now that the money is pouring in, it feels only right to share with others in need, and I guess, on some level, demonstrate my worthiness to those who previously gifted to me.

What has that looked like? I’ve donated over $2k to support small business, help out a friend or two, the local YWCA, fund groceries for families in Mexico, and more. I have this thing where I don’t believe I’m a giving person, and saving feels selfish. I had to sit down and list out all the gifting I have done so when I put money in savings and my brain tells me I’m selfish I can logically demonstrate that is not the case. I will not be gifting as much going forward as without the additional PUA funds unemployment is about $200 post tax a week.

The shed to office conversion is ALMOST done, and I’m terrifically excited to get that moving and be able to support more people in my small, hyper local, way. A donation of $500 came in before the heavens rained down cash. That donation funded the complete exterior remodel. Replacing the plywood with t1-11 and a wheel chair accessible door, windows, and trim. I’m funding the interior work. I sourced a number of things free including 50+ 2×4’s, windows, flooring, insulation, drywall, and plywood. Not enough to do everything, but it for sure helped cut costs.

I’m doing everything I can to use this money the best way I can while it still comes. Once the requirement to look for work is no longer suspended my unemployment may end. I can’t take just any job. I may need to use every penny of that ABLE fund to get through the next 1-2 years. Being high risk due to disability and chronic illness preclude much. I’m feeling incredibly blessed and fortunate, and also nervous that I’m somehow doing money wrong, but every step I take forward gains me confidence.

Be safe, my friends.
Tami

9 comments

  1. It’s an ill wind that blows no good! Yes, we’re in the middle of a pandemic with people dying needlessly, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take advantage of the situation if we can. I’m thrilled you’re on much stronger financial footing and I hope this marks a trunk for the better for you going forward. Stay strong! You’re a wonderful person 💓

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    • It’s just that – I didn’t feel like it was appropriate to talk about for a while. People are hurting, and I’m here being blessed. But it’s my truth, so it’s time to talk about it. And I figured people might be interested in what someone who does get a sudden influx does with it. Thank you, for your unending support and encouragement!

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  2. I’m very glad that the money was actually enough for you to shed the debt and build up a buffer. The future is so uncertain, we have no idea if any more money will come after this, so I’m glad you were able to make these choices to bulk up a year of cash plus reduce your expenses for a year. I hope there will be more, your situation is likely a best case scenario and many people will not have been able to make similarly impactful choices for many reasons.

    I don’t know how long this will go on but I’m certainly no longer planning for any end in sight. We’re just focusing on what we need to deal with, one step at a time, and doing our best to balance being frugal and also making up for the losses in our lives in reasonable ways.

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    • SO much that – we have no idea what is happening next. I may need to live off this for 1-2 years. I don’t know when/if I’ll be able to start petsitting again, and I’m doing the best I can with what knowledge I have to prepare. Every month they wait until the last day to announce if the proclamation for not having to look for work is extended or not. As of now, it’s through October. But as soon as that ends, chances are good so will all the money. My savings has slowed dramatically with the reduced unemployment, but I’m still putting small amounts away, and cash flowing the office. As soon as that is done (two weeks or less) – I’m hoping to use it to help my community hyper locally, and maybe pivot some and create some sort of new work/income stream. All we know is that we know nothing and can only look to the immediate future. It’s a tough road.

      I’m feel so fortunate in this situation. Honestly? I Feel RICH. But other people are not used to living on less than $2k a month. They suffered great losses, not gains. So many hard choices.

      And honestly, it could all go away with one significant medical expense/bill. But I’ve done what I can and you’ve done what you can – our sphere’s of control are limited and I’m working to remind myself of that all the time.

      Lots of love to you Revanche! Thank you for the comment and support.

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  3. As far as your giving goes- you are out of debt!!!! That means all of your money is yours, and you can do whatever you want with it 🙂 I personally go with the Dave Ramsey idea that a full financial life strikes a balance between spending for fun, Saving for the future, and giving to help others. Balance is the key word there- I believe in this post you discussed that giving comes very naturally to you and saving does not. So it is amazing that you are flexing that savings muscle!!! But there is also no reason to feel any guilt about giving. As long as everything is in balance, you are rocking it! I’m so glad that you have more stability now.

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