Five hundred days of pandemic and the financial lessons we learned from the greatest shock of our lives


It was March 10, 2020 – two days before the shocking announcement by then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that schools and colleges would be closed to fight the coronavirus. Musician Mundy flew to Canada that day for a gig in Toronto this weekend – as well as touring Canada with artist Irish Mythen this month.

I was over there with a maxed credit card – I was pretty broke as January and February are always very quiet [workwise]”Said Mundi. “As I flew over, I told myself not to fly – you could feel the storm there [the Covid-19 crisis] that was on the way. My first gig was on March 12th at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto – that gig continued. Then the tour with Irish Mythen was canceled and I finally got a flight home on St. Patrick’s Day. “

Within days of Mundy’s return home, Ireland would see its first and arguably toughest lockdown from Covid-19 – with non-essential workers working from home, concerts and gigs canceled, people over 70 asked to cocoon to wrap up many businesses (including pubs and restaurants). ) closed, a travel restriction of 2 km for sports and parents of school children who have to be homeschooled for months.

Ireland has been in and out of Covid lockdowns since the first restrictions in mid-March 2020 – although hopefully the worst of the pandemic is now behind us. It has devastated people’s livelihoods and finances – here are some of the financial challenges and lessons some well-known Irish figures have learned.


“The pandemic hit me hard,” said Mundy. “I started 2020 hoping to have a better year than 2019. I was planning to pay off some debts. That didn’t happen. “

The Offaly native said he would have been “tortured” had it not been for Pandemic Unemployment Benefit (PUP). “You still have to fill the fridge,” says Mundy, who lives in Dublin with his wife and two daughters. “I was on and off the PUP during the pandemic. There were time pockets [when I made some money throughout Covid] But you really only catch up with a few pounds in there. If that [pandemic] Lasted another year and a half, I don’t know whether I got along mentally or financially. “

The pandemic forced Mundy to explore other ways to make money.

For example, last month he was busy selling ‘Juli’ t-shirts – tops designed around his hit song July. He released a new track Dark long enoughYou last year – a song he describes as “a positive outlook on existence”.

“I’m not with the PUP anymore,” said Mundy. “I think outside the box [how to make money] but you have to think outside the box very hard these days. It’s so tough for everyone in music. “

When asked if the pandemic caused him to change his way of handling money, Mundy said, “Not that I am very extravagant, but extravagance is definitely something I will think twice about after Covid. You will see a fillet steak very differently now. I like cooking. I don’t like to waste things. “Waste not want not” is one of my mottos and I’ve always been like that – I grew up with it – but it has become more relevant than Covid. It’s back to basics. I try to survive on things that aren’t too expensive when it comes to food and drink. The pandemic also taught me that we all live by our trousers. I don’t know anyone who was prepared for Covid. “


Although Covid – that sounded a Death knell for the gigs and concerts that so many musicians have relied on presented singer Mary Coughlan with major financial challenges, she is grateful to the PUP.

“To have 350 € per week [from the PUP] was a lot easier to work with than the haphazard way I made money before the pandemic, ”said Coughlan, who was involved A woman’s heart, one of the best selling Irish albums of all time. “Before the pandemic, you could have gigs for 12 weeks and then nothing for a few months, maybe a few gigs over the summer – and then you would have to rely on the few gigs before Christmas.”

Coughlan, who is from Galway, has released a new album – Life stories – during the pandemic. She had to cut her spending during Covids – and the pandemic taught her how much money she had previously spent on things she didn’t need.

“Before the pandemic, I went to Dundrum to do the shopping – I bought things I didn’t particularly need that made me feel good for a minute,” said Coughlan. “I would go to Dunnes Stores and pick up pillow cases [that I didn’t need]. I stopped buying things like that because I didn’t spend any money – and I don’t think I’ll be going to spend like that again [when normality returns]. “

Coughlan found her mortgage in Covid a challenge. “I got a three month break on my mortgage and the bank cut my interest rate for three months after that,” said Coughlan.

When asked about her financial priorities once Covid is behind us, Coughlan – who lives on the side of Little Sugar Loaf Mountain in Co Wicklow – said she would like to become more energy efficient.

“I have a well-insulated house, but it relies on a stove and oil for heating,” said Coughlan. “When work resumes [fully] and things normalize, I want to make myself more efficient in this regard. If I can afford it, I’d like to get a geothermal system and good solar panels. I will make myself less dependent on bottled fuels. I would also like to spend part of my money on a sunny vacation for the family – where we can all be together by the water. “


Mary O’Rourke, a former TD and assistant director of Fianna Fáil, said Covid taught her the value of the simple things in life. She went out to dinner with the family shortly after eating inside last month. “I’ve had so much fun going to restaurants with the family – it’s a simple thing that I would have looked at casually before,” said O’Rourke. “The pandemic taught me to enjoy every little joy that gives me every day and not to plan too far in advance. It taught me to be more grateful for the simple things in life – and that the most important thing is your health. “

Like many people, O’Rourke spent less money because of the pandemic. “Before the pandemic, I had been on a lot of public outings as people invited me to events – so I always bought jackets and clothes and all that,” said O’Rourke. “When the pandemic came, all public events stopped and I didn’t spend much because I stopped going out in public. I’ve bought a lot of books about the lockdown. I don’t know how people my age got through the lockdown without a keen interest in reading. “

As someone In her early 80s, the pandemic was a scary time. “I was so worried that I would get Covid – like at my age, if I did get it, I would have a good chance of dying. I’m only now over this horror and fear, but it made me more cautious. “

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