I'm a saver. As I continue to work in a lucrative engineering career I am in a far far different financial position than I was in 2010. In 2010, with deferred student loans, I maxed out three credit cards. It was the worst year of my life. I don't like to talk about it. I don't say I'm in a good financial position now to brag, I actually say it as a burden, as an obligation to help restart the economy when the pandemic subsides. The fortunate need to pay it forward. People like myself will most likely be able to jump start the economy better than those who have been laid off from median and lower wage jobs. And frankly, I feel it's our duty to do that, to help our neighbors recover and get back to work.
That being said, I write these things in the moment, based on where I am today. It is entirely possible that I am laid off in the near future and quickly begin looking for a job in a terrible job market.
In normal times, talking about financial independence (and retiring early) is this fun thing where we all have jobs, salaries are increasing, and there is a little thrill in saving money and seeing your 401(k) and saving account increase a little every month. However, in a recession it's entitled. Oh I know, I applied for over 400 jobs in 2010 and was pretty angry at anyone with money and a job at the time. I have not forgotten that experience or those feelings.
The point is, we with jobs and wealth can hole up, stop spending, and not come out of our caves until the vaccine arrives likely sometime in 2021, or we can get out there. I bought two 3D printed facemarks at Shapeways to donate to medical workers today. It keeps Shapeways in business, who I use from time to time, and gets some medical equipment to hospitals in New York City that need them.
I realize that my going out for take out food right now isn't going to keep a restaurant in business by itself. I realize that buying some piece of outdoor gear 40% off isn't going to keep that company in business either. But I also realize than an economy is the flow of money. If the money stops flowing between people, the economy stops. During the Great Depression the stock market dropped 86% from it's high to it's low. If we allow the economy to drop 86%, we're so screwed. (Of course the stock market does not equal the economy, but they are related.)
Point being, I basically unintentionally shut down the spending the last three weeks living and working from home, and seeing now that I am not sick, my company is stable, and even somewhat productive, it's time for me to not only think about my financial defensive strategy to worry about myself, but offense too, how I can help out those that are clearly in need.