This is the second of regular commentary by members of the Southwood Financial Planning team. This weeks comment is from Megan Crafford, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® at Southwood Financial Planning
It is officially week 9 of lockdown.  For many of us though, we have been social distancing and practising other lockdown measures for longer than that in a bid to do our bit to “flatten the curve”.  However, the stress and strain of the lockdown is starting to mount and valid concerns on how prolonging the lockdown is hurting South Africa more than the virus itself is bubbling over the surface.

We recently shared an article published on the 7th of May by Andrew Lapping, Chief Investment Officer at Allan Gray.  Two takeaway points that really stood out for me were the following:

  1. Data indicates the mortality rate for those below 70 years of age is less than 0.2%; only 2.9% of South Africa’s population is older than 70.
  2. South Africa has a limited social security net and an informal economy. Many people have no savings and have lost their livelihood with the lockdown. Hunger is an immediate reality. Malnourished children are disadvantaged for the remainder of their lives due to stunting. The government provides a child grant, but there are millions of immigrant children who have no access to this grant.

Being the mother of a toddler the second point really hit home for me.  Regardless of our social and economic backgrounds, as parents we all want what is best for our children and I can only imagine the heartbreak for the parents that are unable to put food on the table at this time.

You can read the full article at the link below:

What has been interesting to me, is that while we are all in this lockdown “together”, we are in various stages of our lives and therefore our perceptions and realities are very different.

  • Working from home with a toddler

I heard a rather funny quote earlier this week“the longer term home-working with kids underfoot is the 21st-century equivalent of Victorian urchins playing under their mothers’ looms in textile mills.”

At times it certainly feels this way, we have had toy trumpets sounding off in the middle of morning staff meetings, the crash of a Lego castle as it falls to the ground and the protesting wail of  my son which always follows.  I have had to become a master negotiator and “mamma working” is often recited by my little one.  But, it has also provided for many stolen moments that, without the lockdown, we would never have had.  Simple things, like building a fort in his room, drawing a picture for him to colour in next to me while I work, stretching my legs and walking with him in the garden, etc.  These are moments I will cherish forever.  To spend this time together when he is at a stage of his life where everything is an adventure and his curiosity is at it’s peak has been a blessing.

  • Importance of giving back

Now more than ever, as a family we have tried to give back in whatever way we can.

  • Supporting local/ small businesses – as a family we have taken to ordering our fresh fruit and vegetables to our door from a local company.
  • We have lived streamed “concerts” taking donations for various lockdown causes and are looking forward to a quiz night in aid of shelter pets
  • “We are human beings not human doings”

Now is the time to declutter, start a hobby, learn a new skill, start working out.  Our social media has been flooded with messages such as this, and, while this is a great opportunity to learn a new skill (hello YouTube knitting tutorials) or get cracking on that household “to do list”, it is also ok if all you can do during this lockdown is to Just.Get.Through.It.

  • Importance of having short-term savings

At Southwood, when reviewing a client’s financial plan, we always asses if the client has adequate short term savings in place.  Life never travels in a straight line and this has been proven now more than ever as the economy has come to a halt, people have taken pay cuts or have lost their livelihoods altogether.  Having short-term savings in place is paramount.

If you have short-term savings in place:  It is important that you have a plan in place for this money. We do not know how long this pandemic will affect us and one should proceed with caution when planning when they may access their savings and how they will allocate the funds to see them through these tough and uncertain times.

If you do not have adequate short-term savings in place:  Now would be a good time to reassess your monthly expenses and put measures in place to save where you can should things go from bad to worse.