Navigating the Pandemic, According to Sarah Nadav

The problems people face during the pandemic aren’t only financial — everything is entangled with emotions. It’s what Sarah Nadav’s new book, What the F*CK Should I Do Now?: How to Manage your Money when Everything You Thought You Knew Stops Making Sense, addresses. 

Who better to write a book during the pandemic than Nadav, a Behavioral Economist and member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network with over ten years of experience in helping people in financial crises. Her recommendations have been deemed radical by some, though they have never wavered. “My advice has always been the same. Keep as much money in your pocket as you can,” Nadav says. “Live like you’re going to lose your job.” 

[ Read: 12 Unconventional Ways to Save Money During the Pandemic

In her book, you won’t find traditional financial tips about investing in the stock market or ways to make money fast. Instead, you’ll get advice for the everyday person during the pandemic. “I’m not here for the wealthy people,” Nadav shares. “I’m not going to help you get rich; I’m going to help you get through.” 

While you should expect the same financial recommendations Nadav is known for, she digs past money and into factors holding us back from making the moves we need to make it out of the pandemic intact. You’ll learn ways to avoid taking on debt or filing for bankruptcy — which is still possible, even during a global pandemic. Nadav also includes a workbook that allows you to work through guided exercises as you read through the chapter. 

Getting out of the shame spiral

Nadav starts by helping readers work through the “shame spiral” they may be experiencing and work towards what she has coined the “F*ck it epiphany” — which is the ultimate state of shamelessly doing whatever it takes to endure the pandemic.

[ Read: How to Cope With Financial Anxiety During the Pandemic ]

The underlying theme for everything she suggests is radical downsizing. Regardless if it’s housing or spending, downsize what you can until you’re left with the basics. And before you wonder what ivory tower she lives in, you should know, she is a living example of her advice. 

Nadav recounted living in a beautiful two-story condo with floor to ceiling windows and a clear view of the beach. Though after realizing she didn’t need the luxury of a fancy apartment at the expense of her savings, Nadav downsized to one of the cheapest homes she could find — one she described as “a little janky.” Complete with a used pool she got for under $100, Nadav is practicing what she preaches. 

Making hard choices and acting quickly

According to Nadav, getting past any shame or reservations you may have is essential to doing what you need to endure the pandemic.  “Americans especially have this ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ mentality. But I’m here to tell you there are no bootstraps — you have no boots.” 

Book excerpt: Many people were living paycheck to paycheck without savings before this started, and they need a different kind of advice because the rug has been ripped out from under them entirely.

While accepting the emotional side of the pandemic is easier said than done, Nadav stresses the importance of swift action. “The quicker you make changes, the better off you’ll be. I do describe things as urgent.” If you can, think about the ways you can downsize. Even if they aren’t as extreme as renting out your home for extra cash, every small change counts. 

About the author

Sarah Nadav
Sarah Nadav

Sarah Nadav is a behavioral economist, and a member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network. She specializes in decision making during financial crises. Nadav is also an advisor, consultant and part of Linkedin’s Top Voices for Entrepreneurship.

Taylor Leamey

Personal Finance Reporter

Taylor Leamey is a personal finance reporter at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, mortgages, renters, and financial policy. Her reporting has also been featured at CreditCards.com, Interest.com, Reviews.com, MyMove.com, and elsewhere.