As we all adjust to the new normal of social distancing and voluntary quarantine, our relationship with money will be challenged. Whether we are overspending on essentials or stress-buying loungewear for our housebound life (who, me?), our money habits are on full display during these anxiety-ridden times.
However, as I sit in my home in my new matching tracksuit for the seventh night in a row, I wonder if this happens to be a perfect opportunity to revamp those hardwired messages we all have about how to spend our money. What if we treat this abrupt shift in our daily lives as the Bootcamp we need to get a handle on our spending habits once and for all? Here are four ways we can use this time to reset our spending habits.
1. Use what you have first.
Whether we’re talking about food, clothes, streaming subscriptions, or craft supplies, a good rule of thumb is to use what you have at home before buying something new.
Look up unique recipes for the cans of food that are collecting dust at the back of your cupboard, pull out all your clothes and spend an hour trying on fresh combinations of colors and styles, and resurrect that knitting project you set aside last year. Not only will you be saving money, but you will also experience the undeniable joy of making something new from something old.
2. Get creative with social engagements.
For many of us, a significant chunk of our monthly budget is normally spent on social activities like meeting a friend for lunch or connecting with a love interest for drinks at a trendy location.
With our favorite haunts now closed, we are forced to think outside the box when it comes to connecting with our people. Meet for a walk (practicing social distancing, of course), plan a virtual coffee date from home on Facetime, have a movie marathon and order takeout with your significant other, or organize a group to do something fun online, like this free digital Harry Potter-themed escape room. While it’s not realistic to cut out all spending related to socializing, even changing our habits a bit can have a big long-term impact on our future finances, and perhaps now is a good time to start practicing.
3. Revamp your workout routine.
While a gym or studio membership may be a worthwhile investment to your overall health and wellbeing, now is a good time to investigate the free options available. Go for a run in your neighborhood, follow along with a yoga video on YouTube, research bodyweight exercises, or turn on an upbeat playlist and dance your heart out. Again, even if you don’t make a complete switch in your post-coronavirus routine, the changes you do make can contribute to real savings.
4. Spend intentionally.
We know that it is necessary and good to spend the money we have in ways that are important to us. As we plan for an uncertain future, it is crucial to spend intentionally. Make a budget for the spending you can afford and use that money to support the businesses and brands that make you happy and uphold your values. Buy the groceries that you love to cook with and donate to causes you believe in.
Now is a good time to think about what kind of spending you value and look for ways to prioritize that spending. It’s a good time to do a budget audit and take stock of your typical spending habits.
Having successful money habits is ultimately about understanding what your values are and reorienting your spending and saving around those values. There is much that we cannot control in the world today, but we can decide the lessons we take from this time and try to come out on the other side a little stronger — financially, and otherwise.
Natahna Bargen-Lema is a kind and curious writer from Edmonton, Alberta interested in the complexities of identity and relationships from a feminist slant. She writes poetry and posts selfies at @natahnathemadonna on Instagram and has a self-published book of poetry entitled Modern Madonna coming in spring 2020.
Image via Unsplash