Simple living and the wave to economic recovery
Bermuda is now more than a week into activation of coronavirus management mandatory self-quarantine actions: with a travel ban for our island encompassing airport, shipping, and with closures affecting businesses, schools, local transportation, hotels, financial institutions, and restaurants.
David Burt, the Premier, Curtis Dickinson, Minister of Finance, and the Cabinet are to be commended for acting decisively by implementing temporary financial support for all employed individuals affected by these unprecedented layoffs, closures, and self-isolation requirements. Bermuda businesses, too, even with little to no income flow, have endeavoured as feasible to assist their employees as well.
The Government of Bermuda website lists the Covid 19 — Unemployment Benefit Application for those wanting to apply for lost wages relief. Bermuda is far ahead of her US neighbour (whose politicians are still in the wrangling and blaming stage with a date yet to be declared as to when those made unemployed as a result of Covid-19 will actually receive their benefit relief) in providing this financial support website, application, and information.
The Covid-19 Bermuda unemployment benefit application form can be found here: https://www.bermudajobboard.bm/uba/Form/Details/76297093-2601-4761-94d5-70a248d75848
Presciently, Government recognised that these financial challenges to the non-employed workforce is, at the least, difficult to comprehend — a job and paycheque one minute then nothing, to downright consternation as individuals and their families begin to grapple with this extraordinary event. Their focus now is on “just getting through this health crisis.”
So, it can only be comforting to realise that the governing powers understand what has happened and are doing their very best to keep everyone healthy and solvent.
Bermuda residents are having to adapt to a whole new perspective on lines of communication, family, work, travel, entertainment, healthcare, and economic subsistence wants versus needs in what could be lasting significant changes in our own lives.
Family is our first concern
We have probably already realised that this challenge is different, after all we are human and we need work for our identity, we need to feel that we are wanted, we need to socialise, we need the human touch of communication, the pat on the back, the handshake, the hug, the embrace, and we need to feel we are making a contribution, we need to have confidence in the future to take care of and support our families.
Further, ideally we need to understand how this out-of-the blue (finance persons call this a black swan outlier event) event has affected us, and how we can better plan for the unexpected in the future.
We’ve had to educate ourselves about how these viruses work and learn new nomenclature, such as social-distancing, shelter-in-place, pandemic, and quarantine.
Individually, we may take some time — we have plenty of time right now at home coping with keeping everyone occupied and away from potential contraction — to review where we are in life.
RETHINK how we live, what we consider are our real needs, our wants, our entire way of life. Do any of our ‘getting ahead’ goals matter when we are faced with unclear, but very real current health-impacting safety concerns?
When life in isolation requires just meeting necessary basic needs: food, health, shelter, safety, would it be an easy decision to simplify your lifestyle?
REVISE how you are communicating with your partner, your family, your friends, your workplace. Now, that you are restricted in seeing, talking, or meeting anyone outside your home, perhaps, you can see that — previous to the quarantine — attaching oneself endlessly to a smart phone (while even physically with other people) has been self-isolating all along. We cannot take our contacts with the outside world for granted now. Perhaps, we can take more time to physically and emotionally communicate, rather than focus so much on electronically distant, totally impersonal interfaces.
RECYCLE. When not able to shop except for basic food needs, have you actually missed all the other “extras” that we indulge on ourselves. Not that there is anything wrong with extras, but your mindset may feel freer-er and less cluttered when you define yourself and how you look simply, elegantly, and thriftily. Yes, these adjectives can all go-together.
RENEW your thinking about you and your life going forward. There is nothing wrong with some introspection. Start an observation blog. What right now is really the most important thing to you? Layout a plan for your future. Consider learning new ideas, new skills, making new contacts, reviving old friendships that have fallen by the way because our lives are so frantic, so stressed in the 24/7 environment.
These are individual and family thoughts and incentives for change.
COMMUNITY SECOND. We need to think about our community, too.
REGROUP as this quarantine and virus is contained, our community businesses, non-profits, etc, will need everyone’s help.
Local businesses, both companies and the self-employed, will have to restart from square one to catchup on revenue lost, meet payroll, and numerous other fixed costs.
Residents will need their jobs back, and they will need to catch up, too.
We need to have the lifeblood of our economy up again, vibrant, successful, and growing.
Bermuda always needs foreign direct investment — defined as hard global currency: US dollars the most, Canadian loonies, British pounds, euros, and the like.
Bermuda cannot buy anything abroad without the vitally necessary conversion to hard currency — foreign dollars. Bermuda needs those foreign dollars to significantly reflow, recharge our economy. We must welcome with open arms every single foreign dollar (and the person or legitimate business attached).
It is a well-known fact that in the aftermath of any financial crisis, individuals and businesses are extremely careful with their residual resources. They will not be spending indiscriminately, anywhere. Our community and business effort must involve every single one of us to bring those revenue-generators to Bermuda, not somewhere else!
We will need to utilise every organisation, from the likes of the BTA, BBDA, BEDC, and Government, to every single Bermuda islander, to send to the world the message: “Welcome back to Bermuda.”
Anything less may mean a much longer, harder recovery to the new normal.
Dear readers, I’m thinking of you all and hoping you are staying healthy and happy, even if you are tired of staying home.
•Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Dual citizen: Bermudian/US. Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders and their globally mobile connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Finance columnist to The Royal Gazette, Bermuda. All proceeds earned from this column go to The Reading Clinic. Contact: email@example.com
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