5 Steps to Keep Your Expenses in Check Post-COVID
According to a study conducted by JP Morgan Chase, consumers everywhere valued practicality over everything else during the first year of COVID. In fact, among the top products that consumers spent their money on were health and sanitation items like disinfectants, vitamins, and supplements. On the other end of the spectrum, cosmetics and sun care products experienced a sales decline in the double digits during the first year of COVID. Though people where shopping online more during COVID than before, their purchases were focused more on self-care and supporting newly discovered hobbies like cooking and baking, as well as meeting their aesthetic needs like home décor.
Now that the restrictions have eased up and the world is finally opening up again, there are more and more opportunities to spend money on, especially when it involves travel, entertainment, and amusement. And while some may have adapted and enhanced their cooking skills while working or studying from home, with the summer weather comes patio season and eating out which will be an extremely enticing activity for everyone.
It’s completely fine to allow yourself to splurge on those things you have missed during the past two years, but this doesn’t mean you should squander like a king or queen. It’s still important to keep your finances in check so you don’t fall into a debt trap. Below are 5 steps to make your budget work for you in a post-COVID world.
- Take a good look at your finances.
You can’t bake a cake without having the ingredients on hand, and in the same way, you can’t work with your budget if you don’t have an idea of how it’s looking at the moment. If you have various side gigs like dog walking or cleaning, make sure to take note of your earnings from these each time you receive your pay check. Also include your other sources of income like scholarships, grants, or bursaries.
- Keep track of your expenses.
Now this part may be a tricky one since you’re likely paying in different methods, like using PayPal for your online shopping purchases, using cash for quick trips to the corner convenience store, or swiping your credit card for your grocery trips. Collect all the receipts from these purchases as much as you can. Add to these ones those fixed expenses like internet or phone bills. If you don’t have the receipts, remember to note them down in your phone or a notebook. Keep in mind that it’s always better to overestimate than underestimate.
- Save for a rainy day.
It’s a piece of advice we’ve heard countless times when we were kids, but as you grow older, you realize you’re grateful that you were taught this. It’s always wise to save money for a rainy day. Having a working budget for school-related costs is one thing, but what will you do for emergencies? For instance, suppose you’re working on a final term paper and your laptop suddenly crashes, and the technical support person tells you it’s beyond saving and you’ll have to buy a new one. This is one of the times when the emergency money comes in handy!
- Review your budget every month.
You know how companies do a monthly review so they know exactly if they’re achieving their yearly financial targets? They devise strategies on how they can do so if they’re coming up short, like cutting operational costs or hiring new staff. Take a cue from this and do a monthly budget review. This way, you get a clear idea of where your finances stand; when you do feel like treating yourself to a trip to a spa, you don’t have to feel guilty because you know you have room in your budget to do so.
- Don’t stop looking for opportunities to save.
If you’ve fancied yourself a chef or a baker during COVID and prepared your own meals or baked your own bread, saving money in the process, try to adapt this smart habit you picked up on even if COVID is now over and done with. Keep yourself on the look-out for money-saving opportunities like purchasing a party dress from a second-hand shop or renting books instead of buying them.
It’s such a relief to finally see the world go back to how it was pre-COVID. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll let your budget go off the rails. It’s best to keep it in check and keep a balance between spending money to enjoy yourself and taking care of yourself in the long run.
Ali, Adena. “How to maintain your pandemic saving habits as you return to the office.” Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/8760661/return-to-office-spending-covid/.
Beck, Rae Hartley. “Budget about to burst? Here are 3 simple steps to save money fast.” Financial Post. https://financialpost.com/moneywise/budget-about-to-burst-here-are-3-simple-steps-to-save-money-fast.
Gillard, Jackie. “How COVID-19 has changed Canadians’ shopping habits.” MoneySense. https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/shopping/how-covid-19-has-changed-canadians-shopping-habits/.
JPMorgan. “How COVID-19 Has Transformed Consumer Spending Habits.” https://www.jpmorgan.com/solutions/cib/research/covid-spending-habits.