As we emerge from the pandemic many are feeling the “urge to splurge”. Spending for many is shifting from home delivery and streaming services to dining out, entertaining, travel and clothes other than sweatpants. As we transition to a “new normal”, it can be easy to overspend. Now is a great time to look at your post-pandemic spending and adjust your money habits to enjoy a financially stress-free future. Here are some tips to consider.
Get Out and Enjoy Life a Little – After many months without eating out, ballgames, concerts, and travel for many, it may feel good to treat yourself a little. Indulging in something special you have really missed feels good as life begins to return to normal. Just do it in moderation.
Revisit and Adjust Your Budget – Now is a great time to reevaluate and update your budget. While you are creating your “new normal” post-pandemic spending plan, you may be experiencing rising prices on many consumer goods like food, gas, clothing, housing, cars, and travel. Once you calculate your fixed expenses – housing, utilities, and insurance -- add in expenses that were greatly reduced because of working from home like commuting costs, clothes, childcare, and lunches at the office. Categories like groceries, restaurant dining, transportation and entertainment are important, but may provide opportunity to adjust. Be sure to budget for savings, and plan to set aside some money for “fun” spending.
Prioritize Spending on What You Value – Budgeting is about choices and prioritizing what is most important to you. One thing the pandemic has shown many people is the importance of their mental health and wellbeing. Think about what you want in life. If a new hobby brought you joy during the pandemic, why not continue it? If you really missed traveling, planning a trip may be a top priority for you. Once you figure out what is most important to you, planning for those expenses in your budget will help prioritize where your money will go.
Review Your Pandemic Spending Habits – Take a look at your pandemic spending practices and see if there are things you can eliminate because your perspective or priorities have changes. Using food delivery and subscription services and may have been great during the pandemic because you were spending more time at home, but they cost money. Look at all these expenses and figure out which ones are purposeful and worth keeping, and which ones to cancel.
Minimize Spending Temptations – While automating our savings is good, automating our spending is not so much. To get better control of spending, avoid one-click online shopping. Remove your stored credit card information from your favorite shopping app. Be sure to unsubscribe from retail and online seller emails and unfollow on social media to avoid temptation.
Find Ways to Reconnect Without Spending Much – Getting back together with family and friends does not mean you have to spend a lot of money. Plan a potluck get together to help keep entertaining costs down while enjoying time with loved ones. Grab a cup of coffee and take a walk with a friend to catch up rather than go to a restaurant. Or pack a lunch and take a hike or bike ride with a friend to reconnect.
Keep Saving -- Many people realized the importance of an emergency fund during the pandemic. Whether you are building an emergency fund or saving to buy a boat, a car or a down payment on a home, (or both) having a goal will help you put the focus on saving. Automating your savings is a great way to create a savings habit. Arrange for a set amount from each paycheck to land in your saving account(s). Chances are you will not even miss it.
Build Retirement Savings -- If you are not yet contributing to your employer’s retirement plan, now is a great time to sign up and have money deducted from your earnings automatically. If you already contribute, consider increasing the amount by as little as 1% to help build that retirement nest egg.
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