Updated: Mar 21
With the WHO now calling the coronavirus a world-wide pandemic, it might be a great time to book a cheap flight, invest in the stock market, buy or refinance a home or to ask your company to work remotely.
Before I write anymore, I hope we can agree to disagree with my opinions on how the coronavirus has created some unexpected benefits for people. If you're okay with that, then hey we are much closer than what most Americans can do during this 2020 Presidential Election Year!
COVID-19 aka the Coronavirus
Since it's inception in Wuhan, the coronavirus aka COVID-19 has rapidly spread from ground zero to most parts of the globe. This has caused worry, fear and if you are like me some amazing deals on travel, workplace flexibility, buying or refinancing a home and investing in the stock market.
Huh you say? Well hear me out.
Earlier in the year, I had already booked several trips to Europe, Miami, Boston, Las Vegas and Southern California. I tend to book trips at least two months in advance or more to score on cheap flights and hotel accommodations, then keep checking the same flights and hotels to cancel and re-book if the prices drop lowers. It's a basic strategy for the seasoned traveler.
Now that COVID-19 has caused major hotel chains and airlines to drastically alter their business models (i.e. drop prices due to supply and demand). It's the perfect time to book a trip or review your booked trip to see if you can find some substantial savings.
I've been able to save thousands (29,000) of Southwest Airlines points by canceling and re-booking flights to Southern California and Las Vegas. I also found a sweet one-way flight on American Airlines using my Chase Rewards points to Miami for only 9,000 points (worth roughly $150). You can do the same thing if you just do a quick search, so take advantage.
For accommodations, as I've written many times before, I prefer to stick to one platform - Hotels.com to rack up nights, which equates to hundreds of dollars in credits to redeem after you book 10 nights. In addition to their rewards program, if you book at least 30 nights per year, you'll automatically be in their Gold membership, where select hotels will offer you VIP benefits such as late check-out, free wine and other cool freebies.
Since COVID-19, I was able to save a few bucks by searching the same dates of my travels and either canceling the same hotel, then re-booking to save or you might get lucky and find an even better hotel for cheaper than the hotel you might have already booked. Hotels.com has an awesome free cancellation policy, usually up to one day prior to check-in, but always read the fine print. I was able to save myself $300 on my accommodation to my trip to South Beach. UPDATE: Due to shelter-in-place orders and strict curfews, I cancelled my trip to Miami. The good news is that I was reimbursed or credited with my hotel and flights to use in the future.
The benefits of being a digital nomad (the term of people who work remotely from anywhere in the world) are magnified during the outbreak of COVID-19. Not only have Fortune 500 companies such as Apple have allowed their entire workforce to work from home, but the United States government has instructed it's non-essential employees to telework to help combat the spread of the virus.
If you live in a busy metro area like the San Francisco Bay Area, you might have noticed the decrease in traffic. Less traffic equals less pollution and probably most importantly, less stress. It's a win-win scenario, hopefully the leaders can see how much happier their employees are too being able to save hours of commute time, which can be used to be more productive at their jobs.
Check with your human resource office and see what plan they have implemented or might implement to work remotely during this pandemic.
Historically low interest rates for homes
The Fed keeps reducing the interest rates to help keep our economy humming along. It's about to be Spring time and that's the start of the home buying season. If you are in the market to purchase a home and have relatively good credit, you're going to be saving thousands of dollars in interest when you purchase a home. The lowest rate I saw with a quick Google search was 2.75% for a 30 year loan. I also saw the same rate for a 30 year refinance loan and if you wanted to get a shorter loan term like 15 years, the interest rate was down to 2.65%.
Due to these cuts, loan companies have been scrambling to meet demand. As a matter of fact, it's been reported that there's so much demand that the interest rates have actually shot up to stop the amount of applications they are receiving. The rates could actually be lower if the amount of applications drop. If and when that happens, you might see the lowest interest rates in our lifetime!
The stock market "Friends and Family" sale
Right now is a great time to go on a shopping spree to buy stocks. I don't recommend buying individual stocks, but to purchase low-cost index funds from a company like Vanguard. If you've been regularly investing over time (this is called dollar-cost averaging) you are already a smart investor. If you haven't started investing, you should start today especially with the low prices you'll score due to COVID-19.
Here's an example. If you've been investing $1,000 per month buying stocks from an index fund and each stock cost $100 during the height at market just a few weeks ago, you would be able to buy 10 stocks. Now, with the stock market on sale (crashing), that same $1,000 per month investment will enable you to purchase even more stocks because that $100 stock is now lower in price at $75, which will net you 13 stocks vs. the 10 stocks. Once the stock rebounds in time, you'll have earned three extra stocks, which will equate to your net worth increasing or in laymen's terms, you'll be richer.
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