Saturday morning, we headed out to the Kirkland Costco as planned to stock up on our regular essentials as well as a few others in the wake of COVID-19 in our town and the first US death here. My husband had planned to go after work the previous week, but that hadn’t happened, so the three of us went together Saturday morning after he opened up the work job site.
We were in the store right after it opened, and immediately we noticed that things didn’t seem normal. The crowds were thicker than we’d ever seen them, Kirkland Brand toilet paper was out of stock, Lysol wipes were being rationed one pack per customer, there were more than a few people in masks and/or gloves, and we only spotted a single open sample counter.
Full cart ahead of us, we got into the checkout line within a half hour of opening. Or, we got into line a few aisles back because ALL of the lines looked like it was Christmas Eve or worse. At that point, we realized how much our community would be impacted by the Coronavirus, even in the best of scenarios.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. While we are generally reasonably prepared – though not quite to the level of That Frugal Pharmacist and her family – Costco made us realize that we might want to consider stocking up a bit more. While there’s still a split personality locally between laughing off COVID-19 and wanting to shut down the whole state entirely, we decided we would err on the side of caution; prepared, but not panicked.
While some people attempt to reassure people that “only” the elderly or people with underlying conditions are at great danger of succumbing to the novel Coronavirus, we have people we love very much and see regularly who fall into those categories. And even if we didn’t? The idea that only the young and healthy are safe is a pretty disdainful reason to decide you aren’t worried.
While we spent a decent chunk of cash over the weekend, all of it was for food or supplies we needed in the current or will be consumed at a later date. That also included things like de-mosser for our roof and a (reasonable) amount of toilet paper for our family – a single Costco sized one.
Being debt free besides our mortgage and keeping our regular monthly expenses well below our current income means that we don’t have to worry how we are going to stretch ourselves to pay for unexpected expenses – like extra food and supplies in case of a quarantine or supply chain shortage due to a spreading viral infection.
Again, like so many things, it is going to be the people who can least afford it who are likely to be most affected by this current world issue.
2. It feels fitting that I wrote a post not too long ago about our emergency fund not being just money. The realization that it isn’t just our W-2 paychecks that keep us in a decent place helps calm some of the anxiety surrounding the possibility of being recommended or mandated that we stay home.
We have flower and yeast to bake bread and pizza crust. We have an emerging spring garden full of greens and other edible plants that are just starting to put in new growth. The rhubarb has pushed through the soil and the raspberries and blueberries have buds on their bushes. Our unpaper towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, family cloth, and cloth pads mean that even in a toilet paper emergency or other paper shortage, we’re okay.
It’s not just our non-monetary emergency fund that makes me feel more secure; it’s also the realization that many of our zero waste lifestyle choices mean that we need a smaller influx of new things to keep our household running normally.
3. I went home sick from work mid-morning Monday with the sniffles (and now a slight cough) and have been working from home since then. While it’s not an ideal situation compared to being in the office, it’s doable, and for that I’m very lucky. The kiddo has been home with me as well, which means my work days start earlier and end later, but I still get work done.
Considering our childcare situation is 3/5 women over the age of sixty – up to eighty-five, we realize we have to be extra cautious. The Coronavirus is most dangerous to older adults, and our county’s public health department announced Wednesday that anyone who is higher risk should consider staying home and away from crowds for the next few weeks. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Boeing, among other companies large and small have implemented sweeping work from home policies. The Northshore School District – right next to us – has closed for 14 days.
I don’t know what the coming weeks will bring, but I’m very thankful for the flexibility I have with my job. There are so many businesses that can’t operate remotely, or only partially – usually the better paid portion. Just like with stocking up and being prepared with extra emergency supplies, it is mostly the people who can’t afford to stay home sick who will continue to have to work even in less than ideal situations.
The same is true for our small businesses, who have been suffering in the wake of the outbreak. To do something from them remotely, I’ve purchased a couple of gift cards from local businesses (surprisingly hard because many small local businesses don’t have gift cards), donated to Hopelink, and bought some Girl Scout cookies online from a troop who had to cancel their events.
4. I’ve especially appreciated the access we have to nature, considering we’ve been attempting to stay away from crowds right now. We have miles of trails behind our house, and they aren’t terribly busy, especially during the day. While it means we’ve been sticking to the quieter places (see: not the playground), we have a lot of area to roam regardless.
This week – other than purchases over the weekend – has been almost entirely zero spend. Movie night via Netflix, meals at home, and play in and outside the house. And not a single take out our restaurant meal to be seen.
5. The kiddo and I have spent a decent amount of time out in the garden, both cleaning up the dead plants from last fall and planting new ones for this spring. The weather has actually been quite cooperative, which makes staying close to home feel a lot nicer. We’ve pruned the hazelnuts and blueberries, mulched the rhubarb, planted peas, lettuce, and carrots.
The dead hops vines, herb shoots, and asparagus plants gone to seed that have been sitting in the garden beds for far too long have finally made it into the yard waste bin. The bright spot of this week has definitely been the outdoors: both wandering the trails and exclaiming over new growth in the garden.
Sunday through Thursday saw walks through the woods and time in the garden. While we avoided businesses since I’ve had a slight cold, we’ve gotten outdoors – and I’ve at least hit my 12,000 step goal at minimum every day.
Monday I decided to look up some line dancing videos on YouTube and ended up spending an hour dancing to them. My friends and I used to go to Little Red Hen regularly for line dancing on Monday nights, and I’ve missed it. Dancing to the videos made me realize I should at least do more of that, and then when everything settles back down again, head back for a Monday night out.
Has the Coronavirus impacted your town yet, or are things mostly business as usual still?