COVID Finances / TFD At Home

10 “Necessities” I’ve Gotten Rid Of Since Losing Half My Household Income

By Monday, October 05, 2020

Photo of coffee maker

After losing my job back in March (due to the pandemic), I became a full-time freelancer, eventually accepted a full-time job offer, and decided to continue freelancing on nights and weekends for extra cash. However, since my husband also lost his job a few months ago (and works in the culinary industry, so the job hunt has been especially tough), our household income is only half as much as it used to be. This means we’ve had to become exponentially more aware and conscious of our spending habits, and cross out any luxury items and goods we don’t actually need. While I consider us to be in a comfortable financial space (we can pay the bills, private insurance, groceries, and can afford indulgent goods every so often — and I am infinitely grateful for this privilege), we did have to make more than a few lifestyle changes.

As it turns out, the sacrifices haven’t been super devastating, considering that we’re in a pandemic and life as we know it has indefinitely changed regardless. Ultimately, there are far worse things that could be happening. Interestingly, COVID-19 has highlighted a lot of the items and services I thought I needed (maybe “needed” is the wrong word here — let’s go with “very much wanted and thought I deserved,”) and demonstrated I really, just… don’t.

Here are some services and products I’ve done away with without noticing an impact on my quality of life. Again, I now know a lot of these are “luxuries” and certainly not “must haves.” Many of these items I spent money on pre-pandemic were for the sake of convenience, and I thought it was worth it at the time.

1. Professional Bang Trims

Okay, so, I know hair salons were closed for awhile anyway, but my husband has gotten really good at trimming my bangs, which means I can cut this monthly expense of $15 out completely. A haircut, on the other hand, I’ll eventually make an appointment for, although I’m currently stretching this out as long as possible. Plus I already dye my own roots (I’ve started to grow a hefty amount of gray hair).

2. Takeout Food “Just Because”

While we still have room in our budget to get takeout once a week, pre-COVID I’d order myself sushi for lunch just because I was feeling stressed that day and didn’t feel like making a wrap or eating leftovers. Or we’d do takeout on a Thursday, even though we had a casserole planned, because both of us were too tired to cook. When I first lost my job, I did the math and was shocked by how much money we were spending on takeout food and eating dinners outside. We’ve since pared way back and never order delivery spontaneously anymore. To make it less tempting, I generally buy frozen food from Trader Joe’s, so now I really have no excuse to eat out, impulsively.

3. Gel Manicures

While I had slowed down on professional manicures in 2019 anyway, (I started a remote job mid-year, making shiny, pretty nails very unnecessary), it was still an occasional “treat” from time to time. Even if I did have a social life right now, I’d still cut out this expense, because I actually find it easy and cathartic to do your own nails. Plus, if you need guidance, check out YouTube videos that show you how to paint your nails to achieve a professional-looking finish. You can even buy yourself a UV lamp. Just be careful and read the instructions before you go ahead and use it.

4. New Hardcover Books

One of my biggest indulgences was buying new books as soon as they came out. I’d justify this with, “Book are worth it. They’re books!” And they are! But I learned you can get savvier with how to obtain newly-released novels. I invested in a Kindle and use Libby, which allows me to “check out” new books for free.

5. Luxury Skincare

Did you know that Trader Joe’s has an amazing face cleanser for $6? And that Pixi Beauty makes a solid Vitamin C serum? If you need a specific type of skincare product for a skin condition, that’s totally a different story, but for me, personally, not going all out with skincare hasn’t made me break out like I initially feared it would.

6. Ubers

Back in the day, I’d take an Uber if a trip felt inconvenient, which I know can come off as a bit bratty, but LA parking can be nightmarish at times. Honestly, paying for parking alone could cost as much as a single cab trip, and at the time, the $7-12 Uber trip (plus tip) felt worth it. Not to mention, if I was riding with a friend, we’d split the cost. Of course, I’m not really going anywhere these days, but when I do, I just drive my own car, and if I have to parallel park, I do – even if it takes me thirty minutes.

7. New Clothes and Shoes

Even during a pandemic, it’s weird how much I still want a new dress or pair of flats even though I likely will have nowhere to wear them to. While I’ve bought loungewear (like sweatpants and T-shirts), I’ve cut out the rest of my spending on clothes. Honestly, I have enough clothing and shoes as it is, and if anything, the pandemic has shown me how unwearable most of my clothing is unless I feel like dressing up for other people. More clothes that make me feel good versus clothes I feel will only make me look good in front of others, is my style these days.

8. Bras

Literally what boob owner is wearing a bra anymore, these days? Case closed.

9. Fancy Coffee and Tea

I really like nice coffees and teas. I’m not a “single-origin-espresso beans and grinding fresh coffee every morning” level caffeine snob, but I was fine with paying $15 for a bag of good coffee or tea. These days, I simply drink whatever has caffeine in it.

10. Rotating Home Decor

No more mindlessly adding accent pillows and bright vases to the cart when I’m at Target. If we do buy stuff for the house, it’s purposeful and necessary, although I did want to get, like, one new Halloween decoration, but Target didn’t have any anyway, so I’ll take this as the universe telling me it’s wise to do without.

Gina Vaynshteyn is an editor and writer who lives in LA. You can find more of her words on Refinery29, Apartment Therapy, HelloGiggles, Distractify, and others. If you wanna, you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.

Image via Unsplash

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