It’s no secret that over the past few months of the COVID-19 pandemic our lives have seriously changed. In fact, looking back 6 months feels like looking back on a different lifetime, where we had no clue what was coming just over the horizon.
Given so much has changed, it isn’t surprising that our spending and finances have changed as well. For many, the virus has wreaked havoc on their finances through layoffs, unemployment, and unexpected life changes. For others, they’ve seen the opposite: living at home, no commuting or going out, and the ability to save more than ever.
While COVID has definitely changed my life lately, I’ve been presented with a unique opportunity to start front-loading my savings. As a result, some of my normal expenses and priorities have completely changed, which I’m going to share today.
5 Ways My Finances Have Changed
1. I moved home
The cat is out of the bag- I’ve officially moved out of my apartment in Boston and moved home to my parent’s house in Cape Cod. Given it’s unlikely I’ll be returning to work any time soon, it felt like the right decision until all of the uncertainty of COVID is over. As a result, I am obviously able to save a lot of money on living expenses alone- between rent, utility, food, and going out. Virtually all of these regular, recurring expenses are temporarily gone. Now, I am focused on saving my money for down-payment on a home, and hopefully the next time I move (within the next year!), it’s into my first home that I can buy.
2. No more gym
This is huge for me, because my gym expense used to be the most important expense to me. I used to spend $100+ each month to go to a nice health club in Boston. To some, this may seem crazy, but for me, it was really important. Working out is a huge part of my routine, and I always felt like it needed to happen at a gym. COVID quarantine has taught me just the opposite: I love home workouts and simplifying my workout routine, and as a result, I’ll probably never join a gym again! Now, I am subscribed to Melissa Wood Health pilates workouts, which is incredibly inexpensive ($100 for a WHOLE YEAR, and she posts new workouts every week!) and I love it. I also am focusing on moving outside, with walking and running! Now, my workout expense for a year is less than what I used to spend in a month.
3. I’ve added in subscriptions
I used to be anti-subscription, mostly because it was money spent each month that was either forgotten about or rarely used. Since spending more time at home, I’ve been looking for more ways to keep up with the news and stimulate my mind with different perspectives and opinions. I’ve purchased subscriptions to The Medium and The Wall Street Journal, which are both expenses I’d never have even considered prior to COVID, even though they’re not very expensive. I think given the lack of social stimulation, it’s really important to fill this extra time with learning and understanding how other people are coping as well. I’ve really enjoyed The Medium- there are so many articles about personal finance, COVID, health, wellness, productivity, and more!
4. I contribute more to my retirement account
While I’ve always contributed to my 401k, I decided to start contributing more money each month to my IRA. I have both a Roth and Traditional IRA that has money I’ve rolled over from prior jobs, but I never added any additional money to it because I’ve been so focused on saving for a house. Since COVID hit, I’ve made it a priority to start contributing more each month to this account. I know how important retirement saving is, and I want to stay on top of it given clearly so much can change in the world.
5. I’ve revamped my budget and my financial goals
I’ve probably said it a million times… but COVID has changed so much for so many people, and I am definitely not immune to the effects. As a result, I created The Personal Finance Dashboard, originally as a tool for myself that would help me get a better picture of my current financial status and stress-test different situations if they were to pan out. From using this tool, I’ve adjusted my spending plan accordingly, based on the current quarantine-style life I am living at home, as well as my financial goals since my spending has changed so dramatically. This has given me a fresh outlook on my finances and the next year+, which is reassuring despite the fact that sh*t has hit the fan over the last few months. I highly recommend getting a full picture of your finances, especially during such uncertain times!
Clearly, COVID has really shifted my finances and given me a ton of perspective on what was and wasn’t working for my life in a pre-covid world. While I am not super excited to be living at home, it has changed the trajectory of my finances over the next year, and I am so grateful that I even have the opportunity and ability to do so. Sometimes, you need to have your life turned upside down to really figure out what you want and where you want to go. So I challenge you, if COVID has presented challenges to your financial life, what is the silver linen, and how has the virus changed how you spend your money?