“Unprecedented events create new experiences. What fun, misadventure, or positive discoveries have you encountered while locked down?“-Savings Ninja thought experiment –The Covid-19 Edition
If you’re not familiar with Savings Ninja’s thought experiments, these hypothetical propositions appear every second month on his blog, and this is my first go at joining in with the fun. This time though, the ‘experiment’ (set out above) is more a reflection on recent, surreal events than an imagined version (truth is stranger than fiction, so they say).
This period of life has been intense for me with little time for myself (i.e. disclaimer: not too much misadventure here, I’m afraid!). But there’s still much to discover, so here are my top 5 insights so far in week 3 of lockdown:
1. Discovery: Having a change of heart over taking a year out this year
The biggie. The FI-relevant discovery. I’ve reflected on this recently and I’ll post more about this soon, but I decided this one before I even asked myself the question. All job dissatisfaction has been blown out of the window for now. My question now is whether I will leave my job in 2021 or keep going to FI. The latter tempting… Maybe it’s because I had my birthday last week (see below), but I do also feel acutely how short life is, how much I love my friends, how much I want to do in the prime time we have left on this mortal coil. Maybe I need to watch Ikiru again and wallow in it a while..!
2. Fun and misadventure: Virtual gatherings with family and friends on Messenger video chat and Zoom made my birthday a memorable one (including a slightly tipsy spontaneous call to a ‘long-lost’ friend all in Spanish!)
I’m very social but also a technophobe. What can I say?! I’d never have believed I’d have a birthday in lockdown and celebrate it virtually, literally. The vodka was real though (hic). And the games. It was great to let my hair down! Albeit in front of a screen. I also had a half hour conversation with a friend I made in Ecuador when I travelled there in 2004. This trip had been a life changing experience and this friendship had been part of that. Not really been in touch since as he uses different social media and didn’t have a postal address. He also only speaks Spanish and I had felt I’d lost what little Spanish I had. Yet it was amazing to chat, albeit at 1am UK time! The lockdown affecting todo el mundo has made the world seem smaller and stiller. Our lockdown is their cuarantina. I hope the connection continues post-lockdown.
3. Discovery: Junior really truly benefits from our company and attention
This discovery may seem obvious, but (1) F Junior is incredibly social in nature and very active; (2) many young children are struggling or unsettled with lockdown as they are too young to understand the change. Out of the 3 of us, Junior is thriving the most! By some distance. He laps our positive attention, soaks up his learning, and within 2 days of lockdown, his moderate face eczema was gone! Who knows why? But he’s normally in nursery 4 days a week; just under 40 hours. I am very proud of just how well he’s doing! I hope this will be our biggest positive legacy to come out of lockdown. He MAY even remember something of it?!
4. Discovery: Lockdown has given me surprisingly little appetite for spending
So in the early days of lockdown, I bought an indoor climbing frame (large Pikler triangle) that was north of £300 – for Junior. This was in last month’s spend. Since then, I’ll admit I’ve clicked onto Amazon many times (an itch for some change, perhaps, or to treat myself after a hard day’s work), but couldn’t think of anything I wanted. Nada. Partly I just have very little time to myself to use anything. Partly my brain is empty by tiredness. We do keep more foods in the house that I consider a ‘luxury’ though! I’ll post soon about my lockdown spends and savings, and whether I could up the saving further..! It’ll be a challenge!
5. Discovery: It takes a virus lockdown to get our house in order
It’s the first time in my life I’ve use my home space so intensively (not being much of a home bird an’ all), and boy do you notice the dusty corners, the need for better organisation and rearrangement of ‘stuff’, just how much food we get through and rubbish we create, and that the washing up is truly endless. Is it just me? I’ve only felt incentivised to tidy/clean/sort the house before if I/we were having visitors or moving house. It took a lockdown (and a bank hol weekend!) to examine all the nooks and crannies and make home sweeter.
And my final (bonus?) point…
…isn’t a discovery as a result of lockdown as such, but with the fall in the world markets, I feel I’ve finally learned not to want to sell my equities when they sink. It helps that my equities are only a proportion of my assets/FI stash and that I’ve bought broadly (in index funds). Instead of wanting to sell, I want to buy. You only really know once you’ve been tested (I’m not talking about antibodies here!).
However, I’ve been pretty tempted to think that I yet again bought at a high (only dipped my toes in since July 2019), but I realise that only by doing so (i.e. by entering the market) am I now confident enough to buy at this low point… Currently, I’m even talking myself into a JISA!
Discoveries that didn’t make my top 5 but still salient are noticing reduced air pollution since about Day 2 of lockdown (being on earth smells nicer and as a non-driver I like that) and how much I care about my students. I’m rooting for my project students to reach their potential (as they graduate this summer) in clearly strange conditions. Also, being ill myself a week of lockdown, I found it strangely taxing who to ask to shop for us while we as a family were self-isolating and I felt constrained not being able to shop myself, which suddenly became a positive task – to choose ones own food! We are fortunate to have many lovely neighbours, but it still felt a bit of an ask, especially given that shelves are not fully stocked and different supermarkets or shops have different products.
And what about you? What fun, misadventures and positive discoveries have you made? And to extend on the original question: What do you hope to take away into ‘real life’ post-lockdown? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks to Savings Ninja for giving me food for thought every other month with these thought experiments. 🙂 Great blog! Enjoy Mrs Savings Ninja’s guest post on this. I wrote the above before reading hers so that I wouldn’t be influenced. Many other bloggers have since took part (find them via Savings Ninja). Interesting to read the different takes and experiences!