The pandemic was never going to respond to any single solution. The countries that have kept the coronavirus at bay have implemented a range of solutions, that used concert, have been effective. One of the characteristics of America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been a our focus on one solution at a time. And at its worse, the search for a miracle cure-all.
This inability to consider more than one solution at a time has hampered our efforts to derail the pandemic. As Ed Yong at The Atlantic writes:
But some protection is clearly better than no protection. As Dylan Morris of Princeton writes, “X won’t stop COVID on its own is not an argument against doing X.” Instead, it’s an argument for doing X along with other measures. Seat belts won’t prevent all fatal car crashes, but cars also come with airbags and crumple zones. “When we layer things, we give ourselves more wiggle room,” Dean says.
There is no magic bullet that will miraculously end the pandemic. There are things we can do that can help. As Matthew Herper at STAT writes:
What’s required now to return to a more normal life is the same thing that has been required all along: a series of incremental strategies (pushing testing, requiring masks, developing vaccines and treatments), and clear priorities (do you want to open schools or bars?) driven by an informed public debate about what matters to society.
There is bound to be a lot of confusion when the first coronavirus vaccine comes to market. As Aaron Carroll notes in NYTimes it will be “the beginning of a real coronavirus response; it certainly won’t be the end.” Any approved vaccine is not going to be 100% effective. As Joshua T. Schiffer writes:
The most crucial area where the search for perfection could come at the expense of the greater good is the development, assessment and licensing of vaccines…And even a vaccine that does not protect against Covid-19 might be of enormous utility, if it causes recipients to carry less of the coronavirus and therefore, presumably, be less contagious.
All of this is to say that doing the important things adequately will serve you well. This is true whether it comes to avoiding the worst of the coronavirus pandemic or in your financial life. Too many people, spend too much time, searching for perfection when good will suffice.
You don’t need to spend your time searching for the highest yield on your bank balance when refinancing your mortgage will save you more money over the long run.
You don’t need access to ‘institutional quality’ investment products. They haven’t served institutions all that well. The fact is, you already have access to (nearly) zero fee index ETFs that will provide you broad exposure to the world’s capital markets.
You don’t have to spend your time agonizing over your investments. Time not spent watching CNBC or this blog can be used in ways that will hopefully make you happier and more fulfilled.
Perfection is a pipe dream. Optimization is fleeting. Life is messy. Chasing the latest and greatest in your financial life gets old quickly.
Satisfactory, incremental solutions layered one on top of the other in pursuit of a clear goal can provide you with wiggle room. That slack in the system can help you survive, if not thrive. It will make for outcomes you can reasonably live with. And in today’s chaotic world, that is probably the best anyone can hope for.