The annual Thanksgiving article has always been a difficult article one for me. I mulled this one until it’s almost too late to post. While I feel it’s important to reflect on all the things I am grateful for, each of them is very personal. I don’t think you gain much by reading my ramblings about how privileged I’ve been over the last year. When I give thanks for something, I realize that someone else reading it may not have that. That’s not much fun for anyone to read.
Because of that, I usually skip writing a Thanksgiving article. But here we are in 2020.
(And because it’s 2020, I can break all my English teachers’ rules about which words not to begin sentences with. Or even how not to end them.)
We are globally united by a common foe. Everyone’s experience with COVID is unique, but no one’s is good. There are a lot of people who have very good reasons to not be very grateful this Thanksgiving. I can give thanks that I’m not one of those people. There are about a billion ways that any of this could have personally worse for us. Fortunately, none of them happened. I only have minor nuisances to complain about (in comparison).
One of those complaints was teaching two curriculums, kindergarten and first grade, at the same time, on different floors of the house. We got through it, and the kids almost (almost!) seem to have grown because of the experience. In a normal world, learning to read and writing emails come in a different timeline. We learned some important life skills like cooking. A couple of times the 6 and 8-year-old surprised us with breakfast (usually cereal, but that’s because we like to supervise watching the stove being used).
The kids’ school has opened up this fall and so far everything has gone smoothly. The school had a planned, whole week off for Thanksgiving. The idea was to give teachers and kids a chance to recharge their batteries. With rising COVID cases, the timing couldn’t be any more perfect. With my wife still working, it was a long, long week. When the kids don’t have school, they feel like they should do nothing but sit and watch TV all day. Oh, they’ll fit in some video games too. I get frustrated by that, but they haven’t had much TV/video game time since school started in September. We always seem to have an activity like Boy Scouts or Karate. Both of those are paused for the rest of 2020 though.
Because this is a money blog, I should write about money, right?
This is a tough year financially for so many people. It’s impossible for me to single each occupation out. I wouldn’t know where to begin.
My dog-sitting business has been terrible. I’m thankful that we don’t rely on that income. As much as I appreciate it, the money feels like a drop in the bucket. Our investments, like the stock market, are skyrocketing. It’s hard for me to write about money articles that aren’t around investing nowadays.
In February, I moved some of my retirement savings from stocks to bonds. It simply felt that after a 10-year bull market, I should try to preserve my investment gains. It was perfect timing. Sometimes it’s better to lucky than good.
As the markets dropped, I sold some of those bonds and bought more stocks. So now my retirement accounts are up 23% for the year. I was nervous about the stock market jumping back then. I’m at a complete loss on what to do now. Part of me wants to just sell everything. However, I know I have years until I can access the money, so it’s best to just let it sit and grow.
Final Thanksgiving Thoughts
With COVID cases rising and more things shutting down, I’m hoping the kids can get through a couple more weeks of school. After that, the winter break will kick in anyway. It’ll give the kids the carrot stick they need to put in those two good weeks. After the break, it will be 2021 and we can try to put some of 2020 behind us. By that time, vaccines may be able to start helping some of the spread. We get a good spring and summer maybe start to put COVID-19 behind us.
[The hope this week is to get back with a fresh personal finance article by Tuesday or Wednesday.]