Now that many people are acting like the pandemic is almost over, I thought I would reflect on COVID-19′ s impact on my finances.
The Good (Big savings)
- I’ve spent zero on clothes, purses, and shoes for work.
- Working from home allowed us to cut down auto-related expenses. We sold one car, reducing wear and tear on our remaining car, and have lower insurance costs. As for gas, I fill up once a month, if that.
- Entertainment budget consisted of a Netflix subscription. No travel. No concerts. No meet-ups with friends. Nothing.
- While take out and grocery delivery added to our food cost, this was offset by zero restaurant excursions.
- I haven’t had a hair cut since March 2020.
- Like many people, I started taking fewer showers. Not only did this help reduce our water bill, this also extended the life of our soaps and shampoos.
The Bad ( Spending increases)
- I bought some comfy home clothes since working from home allows me to live in tshirts and sweatpants.
- We ramped up home renovation spending, although this was mostly for outside projects.
- We bought toys and things to keep kids from getting too bored. I even considered getting a bounce house!
- We splurged on higher end food items to make up for lack of entertainment and restaurant outings.
- Electric bills have increased. We try to be frugal in this area but with four people being home all the time, this was bound to go up.
The Ugly (Pandemic drinking)
Wine and beer consumption went way up for both of us, which I attributed to the sudden lack of entertainment options.
However as the months dragged on, I think the stress and isolation were the true culprits. I had the same workload and a boss who did not sympathize at all with the plight of parents. I was frequently interrupted by kids and spouse. While my husband did the bulk of zoom classes, there were times when I had to fit in a school zoom session between meetings. I should also mention that we didn’t have a nanny for a few months which increased our childcare load at the worse time possible.
It also seemed like pandemic drinking was one big joke.
I began looking forward to the evenings because of the cold beer or red wine waiting for me at the end of a hard day. One drink per night increased to one per weekday and two per night from Fridays through Sundays. I made special trips to the drugstore or market to ensure I had alcohol on hand at night.
A close friend expressed concern, which I ignored.
That same friend later emailed me an article about the effects of even moderate alcohol consumption on the human brain, including increased risk of Alzheimer’s. I started to worry a bit, but did not stop drinking.
What finally make me cut back? Money!
Financial gurus would be proud that saving money was the main incentive for quitting. I calculated that I could save roughly $60 per month by drinking less.
The secondary reason is altruism. I wanted to expand my giving to animal rescues and this was a simple, concrete way to make it possible.
Did you succumb to pandemic drinking or any orher vices? Did money ever motivated you to quit a bad habit?