How to prepare yourself for the post COVID-19 economy

By Mel Sim

Two words: Spend less

By now, it is clear the coronavirus pandemic has affected our lives in many ways. There’s the good (being able to work from home and spending more time with family) and then there is the bad (job insecurity, panic and fear concerning the virus).

One of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 would be on the world’s economy, which in turn affects just about everything else from careers to how we will lead our lives thereafter. If you type in COVID-19 and economy, you’ll get a list of articles talking about the devastating impact the pandemic will have on economies around the world. In Malaysia itself, the effect is twofold – first, the global impact of coronavirus around the world and second, a domestic impact due to MCO.

OK so the global impact first – when coronavirus first hit China, it sent a ripple throughout the world. Essentially, China stopped importing goods due to their own lockdown and businesses dependent of the Chinese market suffered from this as they faced cuts in demands. Not only that, with Chinese factories on lockdown, manufacturers everywhere were left in dire straits without their Chinese counterpart.

Then came MCO. Nobody was allowed to go out, hence nobody was spending. But this lack of spending came even before MCO where people were generally afraid to go out because of the virus. Restaurants were hit hard by this, with the number of customers dwindling day by day. And with MCO, the closure of business and services because of movement controls meant that there were even less spending except for your essential goods like food and groceries. No customer, no sale, right? No sale, no cash flow, no earnings. It is predicted that many businesses will be hit hard by the temporary closures and there’s no telling if they will be able to bounce back from it.

How will this all impact you as an individual? Let’s just say that times will get hard and when this happens, you’ll need to tighten that belt. Now is not the time to spend lavishly or unnecessarily when your job may be at risk, especially if your company is one of those hit hard by MCO. A recession is on the way and it’s time to be prepared with these suggestions.

#1 Update your CV and keep up with your networking
The economy situation may seem bleak but some companies are still operating and hiring. Whether or not your job will be affected by COVID-19, it pays to be prepared so if you do find yourself out of work, you can get going with the job hunt immediately (or even have a few in sight!). So update your resume, add in any additional skills or experience you’ve gained lately. Continue networking and it doesn’t hurt to check out job sites to get a feel of who’s hiring.

#2 Time to start saving
Kudos if you’ve been saving ever since you started for work. But according to Harvard Business School Online, two out of every three people are not prepared for a recession. If there is a time to get serious about your retirement fund and savings, now is the time. Consider relooking into your budget and find ways where you can minimsze spending and maximise saving. It may require you to make some changes to your lifestyle but hey, better prepared than broke, right? How much money is enough? Experts say you need six months’ worth of money for emergencies like a recession.

#3 Upskill, upskill, upskill
If you’re lucky enough to be in a company or a role that isn’t impacted by COVID-19, then you better start focusing on excelling in your current role because you never know if maybe you might be next on the layoffs list. It’s important to demonstrate your worth and that you’re a valuable member of the team. And you can start doing this when you work from home instead of waiting for the MCO to be lifted.

In other words, make yourself irreplaceable and be an asset. Think of signing up for development courses that will add value to yourself as an employee. There are many online resources available so it’s time to take advantage of them.

#4 Consider a gig
Been stuck at home? Might as well think of ways to turn a hobby into a business. In order words, have a plan B – whether it is a new job or a new business idea. You may want to offer some of your services after hours or on the weekend and think of freelancing. Who knows, what started out as something to make ends meet might turn out to be something lucrative. Read this first though to find out if the gig economy is for you

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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