I know you think I must be the biggest prick in the world to be giving advice to poor people during the pandemic when everyone is struggling. But it is extremely important to recognize that we will either be in a recession or a depression depending on how long we stay in a national quarantine. We are also living in the midst of a transition in our economy. We are transitioning from an economy dependent upon the service and manufacturing economy to one driven by tech and innovation. Although the service and manufacturing economy will continue to exist, the tech economy is like hot sauce it will enhance each and every industry. Depending upon your socioeconomic level, you will either view these changes as a detriment or as a godsend.
Please do not fool yourself that we will return to our pre-pandemic normal. A new normal will be created that may not start to manifest itself for a few years but it is being created right now. The retail industry was on its last leg anyway but the longer we stay in quarantine the higher the likelihood that we may not have physical stores. We may be forced to do all our shopping online. Over time, we may see a transition to online interviewing for hourly positions. This is already common in many tech companies but may become the new normal. The world must go on and tech will figure out new ways to do everything we thought we had to do in person.
This is why I felt the need to write this blog. I wanted to make sure you begin to think about these changes and get ready. Let’s discuss what you should be doing:
I know you already feel stretched thin but I recommend reviewing your finances. Track every dollar you have. Write it out. It is said when you write something out, it really becomes real. Oftentimes, when we just review our finances in our mind or treat it as a mental exercise, we tend to minimize the reality of our situation. Are there things that are wants that you are treating as a need? A lot of organizations that assist with helping people get on their feet are now offering online training. Check out the organizations in your local area. In my area, two organizations come to mind, Origin SC (www.originsc.org) and Increasing Hope (www.increasinghope.org). I can hear you now saying , “but I don’t have the internet.”
One of the things I want you to place on your budget list as a necessity is the internet. The internet is now not optional and many cable and telephone companies are offering and have been offering reduced internet prices. If you are living in an area where there is no internet connection, then this provides a great opportunity for you to begin lobbying your legislators and community politicians. Not having access to the internet today is like not being allowed to go to school until you are twelve years old and you can’t catch up.
If you have lost your job or based upon your newly created budget discovered that you need to find better employment, now is the time to work on your resume. Identify the tasks and accomplishments that you have achieved on the jobs you have had for the last seven years. Most employers are now online as it pertains to applying for jobs so you will need to keep this record. Word and Google docs have resume templates that you can use to build your resume.
Learn Something New
Use this time, to go online and learn something new during the pandemic. Visit websites such as YouTube (www.youtube.com), Audible (www.audible.com), SkillShare (www.skillshare.com), Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org). Lynda (www.lynda.com) is available for free when you use it under your library account. Many of these learning platforms are free or are at low cost. For those of you who are parents, go to home school while your children are at home school.
Get prepared for November 2020. Register to vote. Sign-up for an absentee ballot during the pandemic. This will be extremely necessary if we are still in quarantine at that time (I pray not!). Many of you do not vote. Many of you do not connect federal assistance programs with voting but the funding of those programs are totally in the hands of your politicians. Many of you count on these programs to stay afloat and should be the first ones at the polling places so that you ensure these programs remain funded.
Have you ever noticed that one of the questions posed to you when you apply for programs such as medicaid or snap asks if you are registered to vote? Have you ever heard of the National Voter Registration Act? This is a federal law that requires agencies that manage these programs to make sure they offer the opportunity to their clients to register to vote. Agencies can be fined if they don’t. Many of you say “no” to the question and many go even further and state, “no, and I am not interested!” Many of you don’t realize that is data and that the government can use that data against you in decades to come.
As the definition of work changes, you will begin to see a call to redefine our safety net programs and the data showing how often you were asked to vote and chose not to vote will come back to haunt you. I’m just saying! Don’t take your vote for granted or believe your vote doesn't matter. Every time you pay reduced rent in your section 8 apartment, or get your monthly snap allotment, or when you take your child to the doctor because of medicaid, think about why your vote matters!
I wish you well during the pandemic. We will get through this stronger and wiser!