As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on our economy many both in the private and public sectors are trying to assist those worst hit. With the suspension of the NBA season multiple NBA players and owners have announced their intention to help hourly employees at basketball arenas across the country.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson was the first to make such a pledge, vowing to cover the salaries of all employees of the Smoothie King Center for the next 30 days. Others soon followed with similar pledges.
Reality TV star and owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban not only pledged to pay all hourly employees at American Airlines Center regardless of how long the season is suspended but to also pay for the child care of all health-care workers in the Dallas area as long as schools remain closed.
It’s not just millionaire celebrities performing these individual acts of generosity. Literally thousands if not millions of individuals are giving what they can to help those around them in need. I have not seen this type of a unified response to a crises by the American people since 9/11.
To be able to help others, though, you have to have the means to do so. That’s why I hope this tragedy not only serves as a wake-up call to the potential dangers in this world but also to the need for many of us to get our financial houses in order.
The first and most important step is to build a fully funded emergency savings account for yourself. I have written on this subject before, but much like the story of the ant and the grasshopper, when times are good, these warnings often fall on deaf ears. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having three to six months of expenses sitting in reserves. Without it, minor inconveniences like a temporary reduction in income, or unexpected expense quickly turn into a crises.
After that, the sooner you can eliminate the debt you have, the sooner your paycheck becomes yours again. Just imagine how much different your perspective on the coronavirus would be with money in savings, and no monthly payments. Instead of figuring out how you will keep the lights on, or food on the table, your focus could be on others, and how you could help them. As someone who has made it to that place let me assure you, while it’s not easy it is worth it.
For those of you who have been blessed with more than you need, I would encourage you, now is the time for unbridled generosity. Opportunities are everywhere for you to make a real difference in the lives of those around you. If you get carryout from a restaurant tip, 50 percent. If you’re a member a local church give more than your usual tithe. If you are able, continue to pay people who normally provide services to you even if they’re unable to do so presently. In other words, give without ceasing.
Together, we will get through this. The only question is when the pandemic is finally over, what will the lasting impact be? Personally, I hope it’s a lasting return to the principles of hard-work, generosity and compassion that have been the hallmarks of our great nation in the past.