Contemplating COVID-19

We’re two full weeks into social distancing. At first, it seemed like 15 days would do the trick. Today, however, it feels as though there’s no end in sight. 

Despite being in self-quarantine with two of my favorite people in the world (Dia and her mom), I’m really missing the social interactions I’ve become accustomed to. 

As the number of COVID-19 cases rise in NY & NJ, I am contemplating our immediate future on two fronts:

  1. Birth of BabyShak
  2. April 1st - Rents & Mortgages

What I Miss

Includes, but not limited to...

I miss spending entire Sundays with Dathy. Wake up late, meet at Playa Bowls for lunch. Then go straight to their house to do an arts and crafts project while watching sports or movies until we order Tito’s Burritos for dinner. 

I miss randomly going out for dinner on a school night with Rich, Arlene, Namy, & the Nuggets. I specifically miss trying to balance Calleigh on my left knee while trying to eat wings with just my right hand.

I miss driving into the City with Matt and Meg to meet with Susan, Jeff, Krissy & TJ to watch a show, grab a meal, and catch up.

I miss starting my day with the 530am crew at CrossFit Clan.

I miss seeing my dad at the office everyday. I miss getting excited when my mom randomly stops by to see what’s up. I miss interacting with the team.

I miss the recently developed guys’ night with Neel, Rags, & Josh, where the conversation went deeper than the regular sports and news updates within the group chat.

I miss having an event to look forward to. Every major event of Q2 2020 is either postponed or cancelled.

I miss hustling. I’ve made $0.00 in active income in the past 2 weeks. I had a wholesale deal ready to go, but the end buyer’s funding dried up before we made it to the closing table.

I miss visiting the fix-and-flip projects I’m involved in and having long conversations about life with my business partners.

I miss hanging out with my cousins and their kids. I find peace in the chaos of two little girls endlessly arguing over “that’s mine”, and would happily sacrifice my favorite sweater to a baby boy that currently doubles as a drool factory. 

What I’m Contemplating

I’m being careful not to use the word “worried” as I discuss the following. Worrying is an emotional exercise. Contemplating is an intellectual exercise.  

My first major immediate concern is Dia having to give birth alone. 

Two weeks ago, Morristown Memorial Hospital said only one support person will be allowed to enter the building with a woman in labor. That was difficult enough. 

On March 22nd, they said no support people will be allowed into the hospital at all.

On March 25th, they re-added a support person for Maternity patients.*


Source: AtlanticHealth.org

We are preparing for Dia to go into the hospital alone. 

If giving birth alone wasn’t difficult enough, Dia’s OB also told her the hospital is sending natural birth mothers home the same day and c-section birth mothers home the next day. This is less than 50% of the time she’d get to spend in the hospital otherwise. 

My second major immediate concern is April 1st - Rents & Mortgages.

The first of the month is when the rent is due for tenants and the mortgage is due for property owners. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 3.28MM workers filed unemployment claims in the week ending March 21, 2020.

I’m concerned people won’t pay their rent, and in turn property owner’s won’t be able to pay their mortgages.

The (New Jersey) government is helping both sides.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order on March 19, 2020 pausing evictions and foreclosures for 60 days after the state Senate passed a bill to give him the authority to make changes. Murphy has also requested that lending institutions work with borrowers who are experiencing hardship.

As someone who rents where they live and owns rental real estate, I am on both sides of the equation here.

Taking Action

The difference between worrying and contemplating is taking action. Worrying can be debilitating. Contemplation leads to creativity, which hopefully leads to an action plan.

Dia going into the hospital alone.

On our daily walks, Dia and I have been painting the picture of her going into the hospital alone. 

We’ll keep the iPad fully charged so we can FaceTime from beginning to end. If Dia can’t decide on a name from our shortlist at the moment, she’ll name the baby “BabyShak” and we’ll do a name change later. 

We try to identify the “glass half full” components of her going in alone.

  • No extra people in the hospital is probably safer for all patients
  • The nurses and doctors will likely go out of their way to make her more comfortable
  • It’ll make for a good story one day

There are far more negatives than positives, but focusing on them won’t help.

April 1st - Rents & Mortgages.

I’m an opportunist, so I’m trying to play both sides here. 

I emailed our landlord and asked what relief is being provided for COVID-19 related financial hardship. They pointed me to a state program that requires a lengthy application to be filled out. 

I also called the banks I borrow money from to ask what kind of relief is being provided for COVID-19 related financial hardship. 

One of the banks I borrow from waived 6 months of payments (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) starting May 1st. However, an amount equal to 7 months of payments are due on November 1st, 2020. I accepted the offer.

I’m waiting to hear back from other banks.

Finally, I applied for an SBA Disaster Relief Loan.

Regarding tenants, we are proactively sending educational information to help them with their financial situation.

Personal Finance (Side Note):

I reached out to a few service providers to see if we can save some money. 

Here’s the opening line I used in every scenario. “Hi, we are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. What kind of relief program is your company offering to help?”

I used the Chat function on the Verizon Wireless website to save $90 on our monthly bill (6 lines). 

The bill used to be $360 per month. 

It’s now $270 per month.

The savings didn’t come from a COVID-19 related concession. After leaning on the customer representative, he found inefficiencies in the way our family plan was set up. He also let me know about discounts available based on payment method. 

Bottom Line

We’re prepared, but we’re taking extra steps to put ourselves in an even better position. I don’t anticipate needing loan forbearance for 6 months, nor do I fully believe Dia will be forced to go into the hospital alone. I just don’t want to regret not taking advantage of the time and opportunities we had to combat both issues.

Sunny Shakhawala

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