Coulda Woulda Shoulda

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

I hear Judge Judy saying that phrase many times on her show, and I think about how those words apply right now.

Finance writers

Is anyone else noticing this? There are many finance writers and other bloggers whose financial house is in good order. And they are really sincere about helping others reach a better financial place. But … They are almost always couples where at least one has a pretty decent income (and currently not unemployed), are debt free, paid off their mortgage (or close to doing so), have emergency savings, one or both have a pension plan in their future, and they have some decent investments. The kind whose net worth is usually around a million.

Yeah don’t we all wish we had the kind of education or high paying job that could help get us even remotely close to that kind of net worth!

Money is tighter than ever

A lot of people have become unemployed because the coronavirus has forced businesses to shut down and stay at home orders issued. People are struggling. They have no income. No emergency savings. Not enough money in the bank account to cover the next rent or mortgage payment. There’s no money to buy food. Credit cards are maxed out.

People in survival mode due to Covid-19 unemployment don’t want to hear: “Well you should have paid off your debt and you should have saved up an emergency fund.”

No one wants to be taunted about what they shoulda done.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda!

Many people are low income earners who struggle to pay off their credit cards and put a little money into an emergency fund. The credit card was probably already their emergency fund, helping them out when ends don’t meet. Just when it seems they’re making a little progress – BAM! – something kicks them back down again.

See into the future

There’s a lot of things people would have done differently if they had a crystal ball.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

On December 25, 2004, instead of celebrating Christmas, people in southeast Asia would have packed up their valuables and headed for higher ground it they’d known a tsunami was going to hit the next day

On May 4, 2019, everyone would have bet a whole lot more money on a 65-1 longshot named Country House who won the Kentucky Derby. Albeit 20 minutes after the race ended while the stewards watched the replay and then disqualified the horse who crossed the finish line first!

Back in January, 2020, people would have put paper towels, toilet paper, and cleaning wipes into their shopping carts when they were at the grocery stores.

Also back in January, people would have sold their stocks and put the funds into a cash account before the big crash a few weeks later.

Maybe I shouldn’t

We’re all stressed out and worrying about our financial situation during these tough times.

I’ve been working on a post about what’s going on with Covid-19 and how managing our finances is a lifetime responsibility. I just keep writing and writing and writing. And probably stuff that nobody really wants to read right now anyway.


I mean nobody expected a pandemic to happen while they have huge debt on their credit cards and no savings in the bank.

Nobody expected to suddenly become unemployed. I know I’m not the only one out there wondering how I’m going to pay the bills. Or when work’s going to start up again. Or even if the company is still going to be in business in a few months. For too many people, right now in the moment it’s all about basic survival. We’re not thinking about how to pay down our debt or save for retirement. We’re thinking about our maxed-out credit cards and if there’s a little room to buy groceries and other necessities.

There are government programs that can help you out now – take advantage of them! If you have student loan debt or mortgages, you can probably defer paying them for a few months. It doesn’t hurt to check if you qualify for unemployment insurance benefits or renter’s assistance or anything else. If so – grab them! While the grabbing’s good!

I know I sure am.

You don’t want to wait too long and find out the assistance program’s benefits have run out due to high demand.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda!

Do you have income?

For people who are still working and their income hasn’t been affected, – this is your wake up call! Now is a very good time to reassess your finances and work on paying down debt and starting an emergency fund.

This isn’t the time to worry about saving for retirement. Well, we can worry about it, but worrying isn’t going to get us anywhere. The money I put aside every month to fund next year’s TFSA (Canadian financial product – Tax Free Savings Account), that’s on hold. I couldn’t swing it in March because I’m suddenly out of work.

Enough about me!

If your income hasn’t been affected, I urge you to re-read this post about our financial challenges for 2020 and some things you can do to get your financial house in order. Think of this pandemic as a cattle prod.

New Years financial resolutions challenges on low income

Hanging in there

In the moment, my financial plan still goes like this:

  1. Incur no debt
  2. Don’t look at the current value of my investments
  3. Don’t sell any stocks
  4. No unnecessary spending

Those are little steps.

I hate to say I’ve had to look at the value of my investments a couple of times. Mid-month I log onto Questrade to transfer the dividends that have been paid out into my bank account. I need that money to live on. So, unfortunately, when I’m on the home page I see how my investments are doing. Mid-March, the value was around $50,000 lower than the money I spent buying these combined stocks.


April mid-month when I went in to transfer out my dividends, my portfolio is now about $32,000 in the hole.

Still ouch.

The important thing to remember when it comes to stocks is that you don’t make or lose money until you sell.

See #3 on my list. I’m especially not selling any stocks at huge losses! I’m holding firm. Set ’em and forget ’em. But it still hurts when I see the current value, especially since my portfolio was up about $20,000 at the beginning of 2020.

Worrying about it won’t bring the money back!

At least my dividends are paying out in the normal amounts. Whew!

So hang in there. Hang tough.

Be like me and get help from government programs wherever you can. Times are tough and I’ll take help wherever I can get it.

Even though every day brings you one day closer to the due date on a bill, it also brings you one day closer to coming out the other side.

Stay safe. Stay healthy!

More reading:

How to Apply for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) if you’re Contract Worker or Self Employed

Who Else Wants to Help Me or be Here for Me?

This Will Pass, but how do we Cope in this Age of Coronavirus?


  1. You were brave to look at your statement. I admit l am one of the people with a blinders on. I just don’t want to see it. There is no reason to look back with regret. Yep, we all wish we had a crystal ball. My awakening moment came after 2008 and it was for me the stuff of nightmares that made me change up everything after that. It took quite a few years, quite a few but it was worth it in the end. This seems to be even scarier than then as the assault is on all fronts. I really hope work picks up for you soon. I think we are all in for a long period of hurt unfortunately thanks to the virus. Hang in there.

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