What has been your cure for the ‘pandemic blues’?

By Dexter Hall

As we restock our lives from the pandemic, I am also taking inventory of everything I have done.

In taking stock of my finances, I have found over the fourth quarter of 2021 as we were all having what I call the “pandemic blues,” it resulted in, umm, some bad spending habits. I overspent on everything — entertainment, holiday gifts, and eating out. In doing so, I may have outspent my income and dipped into my savings as I searched for a remedy/medicine for the pandemic blues. In reviewing this article, “Savings Dwindled as Spending Increased in Q4 2021” from the Financial Health Network, I realized I was not alone.

Moreover, the authors — Andrew Dunn, Jess, McKay, Necati Celik, and Thea Garon — ultimately pointed to the unequal recovery from the pandemic blues and the financial impact on our BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) citizens.

This level of spending has caused prices to increase in every area of our expenses and has allowed inflation to rear its ugly head in our community. Inflation is a bad word for us all but carries an even heavier weight for already vulnerable BIPOC communities.

Because of the unequal recovery from the pandemic in BIPOC communities that had already been left out of our economy prior to the onset of COVID-19, inflation exponentially adds to the devastation that has been seen.

As a community we must not forget the impact of this pandemic on those who were already struggling in Waco, with median income data showing our Black residents had an income of $26,464 vs. White residents at $48,915. This data from 2019, pre-pandemic and pre-inflation, already showed stark disparities. I will leave it to you to ponder what the new data set may reveal once it is released.

Nevertheless, what we do know is support and, more importantly, investment is needed in our BIPOC communities in all areas to ensure they are able to perform on parity with other communities within our city.

As always, Prosper Waco continues to solicit your support as we work to ensure the financial security of all Wacoans. My thanks to those who have reached out with their financial support of this work, as well as their support through their areas of professional expertise. You may reach me a Dexter@prosperwaco.org and share your thoughts and gifts to ensure the financial security of all Wacoans.

Dexter Hall is chief of staff and senior content specialist for financial security with Prosper Waco.

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Note: The article cited above is a good resource for understanding the financial circumstances faced by many in the last quarter of 2021. It notes the following:

People in the United States saw their account balances decline more rapidly during the 2021 holiday season than during the 2020 holiday season, partially due to increased spending on recreation and eating out. Several factors, including accumulated savings during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing economic recovery, and rising costs of goods due to inflation, likely contributed to these trends. Individuals who experienced financial hardship in the past year saw their account balances decline most rapidly, showing that many people remain vulnerable even as the economic recovery has progressed. Higher inflation and the expiration of child tax credits alongside other government relief programs may drive further declines in the coming months and herald the end of the financial health boost that some people experienced during the pandemic.”

Read more details in the article on the Financial Health Network website.