How to manage your money and avoid a post-pandemic splurge
After over a year of hunkering down in our homes, catching up with friends and family over Zoom, and not even being able to go out for a coffee, many of us may feel primed and ready to go on a bit of a spending spree.
While we are by no means free of COVID-19, the successful vaccine rollout has seen life in Scotland starting to return to something approaching what it was like before the pandemic. And that means we can start to plan for things again.
For those who lost jobs or suffered pay cuts during the pandemic, they don’t have the luxury to go on a splurge. For others, however, the temptation is there; to splash out on holidays, socialising with friends, and otherwise enjoying the freedoms we’ve missed for so long.
But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. People fortunate enough to keep their jobs during the pandemic have managed to build up their savings over the last year and a half and – as the pandemic has taught us – financial emergencies can come out of nowhere.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips to help you manage your money as we come out of the pandemic.
1. Resist the initial urge to spend
Now that restrictions are being eased, more people are being vaccinated, and shops, pubs, and restaurants are opening up all over the country, the phrase “Kid in a sweetie shop” comes to mind.
Given the year (or more) that we’ve had, it’s understandable that you’d want to treat yourself to some of the things that you’ve missed, whether it’s a night away at a hotel, taking the family out for a nice meal, or catching some sun overseas.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The thing to avoid is getting caught up in the initial rush, when you could find yourself spending so much on the things you’ve missed out on that you struggle to keep up with the more mundane expenses, like bills and subscriptions.
2. Make a budget
It sounds boring, and it probably is, but no serious plan to keep your spending in check can do without a budget. And now that we’re starting to reemerge into society, a budget has never been more important.
You’ve probably noticed, but things have been in flux over the last 18 months. Your spending habits changed when we all went from normal life to various levels of lockdown, and they’re about to change again as we make the opposite journey.
That’s why it’s important to make a budget that takes these changes into account. Start by totting up your income and outgoings to work out your level of disposable income, and make sure you don’t forget the expenses that aren’t in play right now but will be soon, like commuting to the office.
3. Trim the fat from your outgoings
As we mentioned previously, transitioning back to normal life may bring with it additional costs that you haven’t had to think about for a while. But it also presents an opportunity for you to cut your spending in certain areas.
We all learned to do without certain luxuries during the pandemic, whether it was going for a run rather than heading to the gym, or making use of our Netflix subscription when we weren’t able to go to the cinema.
While there will definitely be activities you can’t wait to get back to, you may have realised there are others you can do without. If an expense comes back on your radar and you realise you were doing fine without it, cut it. Put that money towards the things that are more important to you.
4. Plan ahead
While the pandemic, and all the planned social events that eventually fell by the wayside, might have discouraged you from looking too far into the future, it still pays to plan ahead.
The next six months are likely to be action-packed for a lot of us, between attending weddings that have been continually deferred, booking long-overdue holidays at home or abroad, and catching up with the friends and family we haven’t seen in such a long time.
All of these things cost money, and will hurt less if you plan for them in advance. If you know you have a busier-than-normal month coming up, make sure it’s in your budget. If you’re going away somewhere, book your travel as early as possible to get the best rates. And in case an event pops up off the cuff, make sure you have a little extra put away.
5. Help others if you have the means
We’ve all suffered in one way or another over the course of the last 18 months, and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that anybody can find themselves struggling financially. For those of us who are able, it might be nice to help out those who aren’t as fortunate.
This might be a gesture as simple as making sure you tip hospitality workers who have been struggling for work throughout the pandemic, or supporting your local stores after a long time with no customers.
If you want to commit to something more formal, you can set up a monthly direct debit to your favourite charity, or multiple charities, or even donate your time at your local food bank or community centre.
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