An Update in the Age of Coronavirus

I haven’t felt much like blogging since my last post. So much has happened since then. Our nanny had just started working at our home two weeks before my last post. Now she feels like a member of our family though she is no longer allowed to come due to the stay at home order in our state. Our son who is now 9 months old misses her terribly, but is too young to understand why she no longer comes over. We cheated this week and allowed her to come to our backyard and say hi for a few minutes, while maintaining the requisite social distance.

Both of our jobs have been busy over the past few months. It feels like neither of us is currently enjoying the best-of-both-worlds part-time lifestyle. That said, both of us are grateful to still be working at a time when many like our nanny are struggling. We decided to make sure our nanny was financially insulated from any hardship and were prepared to pay her a lump sum representing the difference between her current paycheck and our state’s unemployment benefits for six months. Before we finalized it though, the federal government stepped up and passed the stimulus bill.  It appears she will be made whole for four months.  My wife’s job is related to the travel industry so we may yet have some fallout on that front.

Other than juggling childcare and work, things still feel kind of normal despite the near-quarantine situation in our area. We are used to working from home so that much has not changed for us. With a baby at home, I wasn’t getting out much pre-quarantine, mostly going to the driving range once a week or maybe even sneaking in a round every other month. Now we take walks in our neighborhood and one of us buys groceries once a week or every other week.

Despite being busy at work and home, we have been pretty proactive and we got done several tasks that might have gotten put on hold with the virus outbreak. We setup a family trust late last year and finally finished funding it in February. Around that time, we also refinanced our mortgage from a 30 year @ 4.25% to a 15 year at 3.25%. At first, I thought I pulled the trigger too early, but despite the rate cuts, mortgage rates haven’t appreciably budged. Plus we hear it’s impossible to close on a loan these days due to high demand and/or lack of processing bandwidth.

By the end of February, we also finished the major projects around the house that I wanted to do. For example, we replaced the cheap-ass ceiling fan in our living room that has double height ceilings, as well as several bathroom exhaust fans and our exterior lights. Replacing the fan required an electrician — I’m not renting a 16-foot A-frame ladder! — and so we had them do all that work at once. I also replaced the switches around the house and added a few cellular shades — we had no window covering in our bedroom for almost a year! Fortunately, this got our house in good shape for the quarantine. The only thing that I still want to do is some touch up paint around the house. But that will likely wait until after things go back to normal.

As news of the outbreak got more dire, we also managed to cancel our gym membership in time before they halted all cancellations. We weren’t going to the gym anyway since the nearest one is no longer within walking distance and it was hard for one parent to find time to go without burdening the other parent. We decided to put a gym in our garage. Again, we got lucky with our timing.  We placed our order the day before all gym equipment started going out of stock at all the major retailers. It’s really quite crazy how fast everything sold out; and how it’s expected to be sold out for at least 4-6 more weeks. There are pictures on /r/homegym of folks building squat racks out of wood because they can’t buy one.  Here’s our gym, which I only set up this week. It’s basic, but covers most of the movements we do at our old gym, like squats, bench, deadlift, pull ups, etc. I tried some exercises today and everything feels so heavy since I haven’t worked out since December!

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On the financial side, we like everyone else have taken a big hit in the markets. My younger self from 2012 would have been panicking, but in 2020, I’ve been pretty zen about everything. I think that’s just my subconscious telling me that our asset allocation is good and that we have sufficient rainy day funds to weather the storm.

Anyway, I’m hoping this all blows over soon. The news is starting to hit close to home though as each of us has at least one coworker who has been diagnosed with Covid-19. My coworker has already recovered and is out of quarantine. My wife’s coworker has a mild case, but it’s more recent. My friend from college is a ER doc in NYC and I hear the situation is dire there. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone dealing with this unprecedented outbreak, especially those in the medical field and those who are recovering.

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

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