Being home for the last 66 days has really led me to do some self-reflection (because what else is there to do?). Unfortunately, this quarantine has led to pay cuts for both my husband and I, which has led us to re-evaluate our budget. I’ve spent some time monitoring our bank account and looking at trends of spending, and wanted to share some of the financial lessons I’ve learned during the last two months.
I don’t need an iced coffee everyday. Before quarantine, when we were still able to go into the office, a co-worker and I would take a mid-morning break and walk to Starbucks to get an iced coffee. $5 later, we were out the door. Since March 12th (the last time we were allowed in our office), I’ve been to Starbucks once and that was before everything was super locked down. We recently purchased a new coffee maker and I’m slowly starting to realize how much money I’m saving each month by brewing my own coffee. $5/day times 4x per week = $20/week times 4 weeks = $80 just on coffee! That $80 is back in my pocket.
We need to start bringing our lunches to work. My husband and I are really terrible at this. We both eat in our building’s cafeterias daily, so this is easily over $100/week, which totaled $400+/month. I’m going to start meal prepping for both of us when we are allowed back in the office so we can put that extra money in our savings account.
We don’t need to go grocery shopping everyday. We’ve never been good with planning out our meals for the week…the few times we’ve done it, we’ve had food go to waste because we decided we didn’t want what we had. We would make trips to Harris Teeter daily, which is a terrible idea in itself, but then you go in on an empty stomach and you walk out having spent $60 because buying three types of cookies was a great idea. The last two months have been really good for us because we’ve bought for a week at a time, but we’ve gotten groceries that can be used in multiple dishes, so we aren’t limited to what we can make.
I don’t need to go to TJ Maxx or HomeGoods. I’ll admit that I’m an emotional spender. Bad week? Go to HomeGoods. Bad mood? Go to Target. Well, obviously, over the last two months, I haven’t been able to get out of the house, so my spending has gone down exponentially. I’ve realized that anytime I go shopping, I pick up little trinkets that I don’t need. With moving, I sorted through all of our stuff twice and realized how many random things I’ve purchased over the years that are cluttering up the house. I now call all of these items “clutter items.”
I don’t need to go get my nails done every two weeks, I can do them at home. I purchased a gel kit from Zoya that comes with everything I need to pamper myself at home. This will save me, on average, $100/month. Will I go get them done when the salons open up on Monday? Yes, but this will be a monthly thing instead of bi-weekly.
Growing our own food needs to be a thing. We’ve always had a decent garden filled with peppers, tomatoes, and herbs, but this year we’ve gone all out. When quarantine started and there was no produce in sight (which was terrifying for this vegetarian), we decided to start planting other vegetables to help supplement what we couldn't find in stores. We now have cauliflower, onions, peppers, tomatoes, herbs galore, eggplant, and so much more. This time has really taught us that having a garden is so important not only to have another food source, but to save money on produce and herbs.
It’s a good idea to unsubscribe from retail emails. With all of the brick and mortar stores being closed, they ramped up their sales and the number of emails they sent out. I was getting emails two to four times per day from Loft shoving their latest sale down my throat and I would end up going to their website to look (and thankfully, not buying anything). I started unsubscribing from emails so I wasn’t tempted to spend money on unnecessary things.
What financial lessons have you learned during this period of staying at home?