• Harry N. Stout

Happy Money Thoughts


In many respects, we as a country have had a really up and down couple of weeks. I wanted to change the tone with a post about some happy thoughts about money. By way of background, I wanted to thank all those with NASA and SpaceX on the successful launch this past weekend. As a college sophomore, I had the pleasure to be an intern with NASA at its Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. I was a contract negotiator for a new earth resources technology satellite (ERTS) that was one of the first devices to provide continual mapping of the earth’s surface. My job was to contract with scientists to validate what the satellite was seeing with its scanners. This included testing gypsy moth damage on foliage, factory pollution in Vermont lakes and the impact of flooding in West Africa. The major learning from my time at NASA was that we as a country could solve any problem we have if we put our mind and resources to do so. We need more of these collaborative efforts in our world today.


Despite all that is going on around us, from a money standpoint I see some positives emerging from what we are experiencing today.


Here are some happy thoughts:

  • Financial technology has become more visible and useful. From contactless payments, remote payment systems, use of e-signatures on financial documents to debit cards used to distribute stimulus payments we have seen new tech work to help us deal the pandemic. We are only beginning to see how new tech will change how we conduct our financial affairs. Much more to come here.

  • The lockdown has reduced spending for most people and their families and in many cases resulted in more cash that they can add to their savings.

  • Telehealth is up and running across the country. How many of us want to sit in a doctor’s or waiting room prior to our visit? I know I always think I am going to catch some illness from the people I sit next to or from the magazines available for patients to read. Going forward, telehealth visits are going to reduce your out-of-pocket medical costs and improve the delivery of care. I can’t believe that it has taken us so long to implement this practice.

  • One of the biggest changes we have seen for many people is that they are working from home. After several weeks of this change, people are beginning to adjust and develop a routine. Some people like the new found freedom of home work, while others miss the office environment. In my view, from a financial standpoint, remote working will survive the pandemic. Workers are benefiting from having no commuting expenses and are coming to the conclusion they can live and work from lower cost of living locales in the future. The move to remote work will likely put more cash in the pockets of many of you. No or lessened commuting costs, meals at home and more time with family are all benefits this change will bring.

  • The use of video conferencing for interactions that we used to do in person will allow you to have more time to meet with financial professionals to help you solve your personal financial issues. You can effectively use video conferencing applications to meet with insurance, investment and financial planning professionals. Don’t forget to wear appropriate clothing.

  • Individuals and families have been required to stop their daily grind to sit back and look at what money means to them and how they use it. For most people, if they can’t travel and go out to dinner, it causes them to think about what they were doing pre-pandemic and question if that is really what they want to do in the future. These money conversations are essential to improving money habits.

Summary

I have lived thorough many difficult things in my life — both personal and financial. I have learned that if you are focused on improving your state in life you will take all the positives and negatives and use them to become a better version of who you are. There are many positive things we can take from and learn from our chaotic environment. It is simply up to you.


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