Coronavirus: Prioritizing what’s really important

If that doesn’t make our complaints and “troubles” seem small, I don’t know what does. Nothing like a bit of perspective to bring us all back to reality.

A man wearing a mask walks inside a shopping centre after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government announced that malls, hotels, restaurants and theaters will shut down from Sunday, in an escalation of precautionary measures against coronavirus, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 15, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
A man wearing a mask walks inside a shopping centre after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government announced that malls, hotels, restaurants and theaters will shut down from Sunday, in an escalation of precautionary measures against coronavirus, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 15, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
“The most important job I'll ever have is spelled D-A-D.” - Mike Pence
The US vice president didn't say this during the current crisis but his quote is perhaps one of the most important lessons that we can learn from the coronavirus pandemic. While many people are spending their time trying to prove that the Messiah is coming, I think it behooves us all to become introspective and take a look at where we are as individuals, and see if that is really where we want to be.
With many investors feeling the short-term sting of a 30% drop in their investments, from my non-scientific survey of a large number of clients, most are just happy that they are healthy and say their money is secondary, which in any case will recover sooner rather than later.
Have we become overly focused on our career track? Have we been sucked into the rat race, where our desire for career advancement and the need to make money have become our most important life goals? I am not against hard work and career advancement, and I am not against making money, but maybe there is more to life than those purposes.
While my wife has had the pleasure of staying home this week with our five children, as I escaped to the office, I can say one major benefit of the Health Ministry guidelines is that we have eaten as a family every single night this week. I don’t think that has happened since our family consisted of two small kids in kindergarten. Whether it’s one child at a youth group while another is taking a driving lesson and a third is at his baseball game, other than Shabbat, we virtually never have the full family sitting around the dinner table in a relaxed manner more than once or twice a week. And I must say, it’s awesome. It really is bonding time.

What’s important?
I have written before about a meeting I had a few years ago with a young widow. Her husband died while she was in her 30s with two small children. She told me how, fortunately, her husband had taken out life insurance and that she was about to come into a lot of money. After speaking about her short- and long-term goals for the money, she said, “You know, I may now be objectively considered rich, but I would trade all the money in a heartbeat to have my husband back alive!”
If that doesn’t make our complaints and “troubles” seem small, I don’t know what does. Nothing like a bit of perspective to bring us all back to reality.

Small business
I had a call earlier in the week with someone in the travel business. He runs all kinds of summer tours, as well as Passover programs. Needless to say, his business has come to a crashing halt. Now his clients are asking for their money back, even though it’s all tied up with the hotel. In fact, this is an issue all over the travel industry. I have seen numerous posts on Facebook from disgruntled clients who booked exotic tours with a host of operators, and they are basically shaming them all over social media for not returning their money.
Now I happen to know that some of the operators have generously offered tours to almost any destination the traveler wants over the next few years at no cost. Whether or not the operators or the travelers are correct, there needs to be an understanding that we are in the middle of an economic freeze. So, maybe, just give the company some breathing room.
The state of small businesses right now is so sad. The last few days, I have walked on Jaffa Road in the center of Jerusalem, and there is no one out. I spoke to a bakery owner who told me his sales have dropped 85%! I entered a salad bar at 2 p.m. and was only the sixth customer they had all day. I decided to buy some danishes and a salad just as a token of support to these businesses.
I know that there are no easy solutions but we need to have a bit of compassion for these small-business owners, as well as other members of society who are now homebound, like the elderly. Now is the time for us all to help one another and focus on what is really important.
I wish you all good health and may we get past this crisis soon.
The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates. The writer is author of Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing (McGraw-Hill), and is a licensed financial professional in the United States and Israel. Securities are offered through Portfolio Resources Group, Inc.