Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] JOHN WHYTE: Thanks for watching Coronavirus in Context. Hey, everyone. I'm Dr. John Whyte, and I'm the chief medical officer of WebMD. I host a daily news show called Coronavirus in Context. If you've tuned in, you'll recognize this bookshelf. I've shot over 100 episodes in front of it. And yes, I have changed the books around from time to time. I've been interviewing a wide range of experts in science, medicine, policy, wellness, and even finances.

COVID-19 has been placing a significant toll on our financial health. I had an insightful conversation with my friend Suze Orman, who reminded us about the relationship between health and wealth. There's a lot of similarities. We tend not to think about our health until we get sick, and we don't think about our finances until there's a problem, like there is right now. Luckily, she gave us her financial prescription, which was all about taking action.

SUZE ORMAN: When it comes to your health, right, you never really think about your health till you're not healthy, right? Then all of a sudden, it's like, oh my god, I have to go see a doctor. And now you're not well, and you don't think about it. With your money, you tend to not think about your money either, believe it or not, unless your money gets sick.

JOHN WHYTE: Hmm.

SUZE ORMAN: And-- and all of a sudden, things like now are happening, and so now you're, like, worried about it and you're freaked about it. But what's very interesting is that the similarities between health and wealth are tenfold. Um, what's so sad is that when your money isn't doing well--

JOHN WHYTE: Mm.

SUZE ORMAN: --like times like this, is the market going to come back, am I going to have my job, all of a sudden, you find that you are totally stressed. And the more stressed you are, the more afraid you are. And the more afraid you are, the more--

JOHN WHYTE: Mm-hmm.

SUZE ORMAN: --your immune system goes down and the sicker you get. So I've always said health and wealth are one.

JOHN WHYTE: So I write a lot of prescriptions as a physician, but what's your financial prescription right now for consumers who are just really stressed and worried?

SUZE ORMAN: Yeah. You know, here's what people need to understand. I wish it were just as easy where you took a pill--

JOHN WHYTE: Mm-hmm.

SUZE ORMAN: --or you got a shot or there was a vaccine that protected you. The truth of the matter is, when it comes to your own wealth, you have to be your own doctor. And the best prescription that you could give yourself is to take action and deal with the things that are going wrong right now. If you don't have money to pay your bills, you need to pick up the phone and call your creditors. If you can't pay your mortgage payment or your landlord, you have to pick up the phone and contact them. Same thing with your student loan payments, your car payments, your insurance companies. So this is the time when everything is going wrong and you are just paralyzed with fear--

JOHN WHYTE: Mm-hmm.

SUZE ORMAN: --that you have to be a warrior.

JOHN WHYTE: I also had a chance to chat with my favorite trend weaver, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn. She helped break down the economic impact on household income and how that impacts spending habits. She explained just why everyone is buying those bread makers and doing so much baking.

JANE SARASOHN-KAHN: We have a consumer-led economy. When we get out of a recession or a soft period in the economy, people, consumers, get us out of it. And if we're not spending, we're going to be in the economic depths for a longer period--

JOHN WHYTE: Yeah.

JANE SARASOHN-KAHN: --of time.

JOHN WHYTE: What are people not spending on?

JANE SARASOHN-KAHN: So it's interesting. Uh, there's a-- a chart showing, um, the 10 items we're spending more-- more money on and the 10-- 10 least spent items. Um, the least spent items are things like luggage because we're not traveling--

JOHN WHYTE: Mm-hmm.

JANE SARASOHN-KAHN: --briefcases because we're not going to work.

JOHN WHYTE: Mm-hmm.

JANE SARASOHN-KAHN: We are spending money on things like bread machines. We're spending money on office furniture for the home--

JOHN WHYTE: Yeah.

JANE SARASOHN-KAHN: --because of telework and dressing above the waist--

JOHN WHYTE: Sure.

JANE SARASOHN-KAHN: --not spending a lot of money below. So it's very interesting. Um, and we're spending a lot on over-the-counter meds and vitamins to, um, boost our immunity.

JOHN WHYTE: Yeah.

JANE SARASOHN-KAHN: And of course, food, for what Nielsen calls the "pandemic pantry"--

JOHN WHYTE: Yeah.

JANE SARASOHN-KAHN: --shelf-stable foods.

JOHN WHYTE: The key right now is to watch your finances closely, avoid any big purchases, and examine trends to see how they might impact your individual situation. Be sure to check back in as we continue to cover the latest information to help you manage your physical and emotional health as well as your financial health during these stressful times.

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