The coronavirus will undoubtedly cause widespread economic damage and has the potential to reshape the world we live in. The digital economy has just received a huge boost at the expense of more traditional interaction, as households across the country have been ordered to shelter in place or work from home.
For some, finding ways to fill in the extra time that ensues means watching excessively Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) or play video games. I would be lying if I said that my time spent in these activities hasn’t increased a bit in recent weeks. But increasing the time spent at home can also be a great opportunity to strengthen and forge more productive habits. Here are three activities to try while you’re stuck at home.
1. “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you look good.”
Thanks to my dad for this sentence. A phrase I often heard growing up, it simply means this: exercise and physical activity are inseparable from how we feel about ourselves, and what we feel about ourselves can be contagious (the gender positive!).
Given the current state of affairs, spending time every day exercising – even if it’s only 15 minutes – can do wonders for our physical and emotional well-being. It is not a cure for the woes that many know about, but it can help. And the resulting positive energy could rub off on others.
Plus, it’s easier than ever to set up a workout routine. All you need is an Internet connection and a screen. Check out the free routines in the Nike (NYSE: NKE) Training Club App or the Planet Fitness (NYSE: PLNT) United We Move Home Work Channel on Youtube.
2. Invest intellectual time in yourself
Many small business owners and entrepreneurs would agree that the best time to start a business is often when the economy is at its worst. Consumer behavior is disrupted, and some excess dollars that are lost can be recovered by newbies looking to find their way into the business world. If you have an idea and a plan, some free time at home could be used to plant seeds for future gain.
Maybe starting a business isn’t in your wheelhouse, but investing a few minutes every day to stimulate brain cells is a healthy activity. Another idea is to start a blog (my wife took advantage of a few days off last week to finally put hers online). Or if the writing is finished, there is still the reading. Warren Buffett is famous for dedicating many hours every day to reading books.
3. It’s never too late to review your personal finances
And finally, since this is an article on investing and finance, there’s that dreaded and often overlooked habit of giving your personal finances a little bit of attention. But, if you are stuck at home, this is definitely the opportunity to do so.
With so many households confined to their homes, the likelihood of economic fallout increases. If it’s been a while, review your monthly budget. Take a look at the cash outflows over the past few months and see if there are any areas in which to tighten spending. If a layoff or outright job loss is, unfortunately, your situation, it goes without saying. Separate the “needs” from the “wants”, prioritize the latter based on what is most important to you, then start eliminating the “wants” at the bottom of the list.
But what about the check that’s about to be cut and sent to most Americans? That’s right, the federal government has just approved a $ 2 trillion economic aid bill that is equivalent to money sent to most households. For single filers, this means up to $ 1,200, up to $ 2,400 for joint filers, and an additional $ 500 for each child under 17. If not already reserved for invoices, these dunning checks could – at least in part – be a leap – start setting up a emergency fund.
Do you already have an emergency fund? Investing this money for future use is another option. While many are grappling with the question of whether to sell shares, the right decision – for those who don’t need the money in the long run – is actually the opposite. After steep declines in the market, history says start buying now. The timing doesn’t have to be perfect either. Here is how the S&P 500 since October 2007, last peak before the onset of the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
In other words, the chart above shows that even buying high and then selling low some 12 years later was still quite profitable. Fool.com is full of great ideas on where to invest. Even if it is a apparently small quantity, getting into the habit of investing now, when things go wrong, can be very rewarding later.
This article represents the opinion of the author, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a premium Motley Fool consulting service. We are heterogeneous! Challenging an investment thesis – even one of our own – helps us all to think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.