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COVID exposed EXISTING trends in personal finance

COVID, of course, is a global health emergency. But, it is also an economic emergency due to lost jobs and incomes, small business failures, families exhausting their savings, etc. I believe, however, not all of the economic impacts of COVID are new. I believe COVID is 'merely' exposing trends that were already present, just bubbling under the surface, and not yet visible to everyone.

COVID has exposed, and brought attention to, the following trends that I believe were already present and serious (and already part of my teaching framework) BEFORE COVID:

  1. People beginning to question the value of a traditional 4 year college degree.

  2. The realization that your job, company, or entire industry could radically change overnight.

  3. The sad truth that too few families are adequately saving for their futures, beginning with an emergency fund.

Questioning the traditional college degree - Hopefully you've already seen my blog post (rant) about 'A Broken System' - a self-perpetuating cycle driving and supporting ever higher costs of college. I believe college is too expensive. I think the high cost is unaffordable for most families and requires loans. The loans are made too easy and too available by the government (no due diligence on future earnings potential to pay back the loans). Students and families are all too often making purely emotional decisions (falling in love with a name or campus) and not sound financial decisions. And all of this enables the schools to keep raising the cost, knowing those who can afford it will pay the price and those who can't will get a loan. But now with COVID, the college experience went virtual while the costs only went up. People are becoming more aware of what was ALREADY happening - there are too many people who think the prize is a degree from certain schools when the reality is the top priority should always be a job and start of a career.

Career uncertainty - While COVID highlighted that your job or industry could change overnight, this trend has in fact been intact for decades. At least going back to the '80s, and then accelerated in the '00s with China's economic explosion, jobs have gone global. I used to work for someone who would literally say "Tyburski, 3 billion people want your job". Competition is intense. Career uncertainty is intense. The need to realize that it is your responsibility to stay employed and employable, in a changing world, is, yes, intense.

The need to save - The need to save for the future has always been a part of running your personal or household finances. We all have a long list of future life events and financial needs. Saving for the future is critical. At the very least we must have an emergency fund for the unknown. COVID merely highlighted what was already happening...too few are saving enough for the future.

With vaccines and new hope, there is a light at the end of the COVID tunnel. Is there a light at the end of the financial literacy tunnel? I am less confident but ready to do my part to change things.

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