How have your spending habits changed in the 100 days since lockdown? And how do you think your spending will change again, as lockdown loosens?
I have kept a close eye on my spending since the first month of lockdown, and on Sunday I talked to Radio Suffolk about which of my new habits I’d like to keep – and what will be different.
Many of us saw our spending change radically, while so many shops and venues shut, and we were instructed to stay at home. People were forced into frugality, either because there was limited chance to spend, or because their income shrank with disappearing jobs and gaps in government support.
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As lockdown loosens, rather than snapping straight back into old spending habits, it makes sense to keep costs low.
For many, particularly working women, it’s difficult to get back to work while schools, nurseries and normal childcare is closed.
Even if your income continues as normal, stashing spare cash will protect against future financial uncertainties. A recession and potential job losses could hit us all.
Here’s how my spending changed during lockdown, what will change and which new habits I’d like to hang on to!
Lockdown: Our grocery shopping costs shot up, with the whole family at home 24/7. I often ended up buying more expensive brands than normal when there were shortages of staples such as flour, pasta, fruit and veg. I wasn’t able to snap up cut price meat and fish from the short-dated yellow-stickered sections while we were self-isolating and avoiding supermarkets.
After lockdown: I’m really hoping to hammer down our food costs, now the shops have more stock and I can return to buying yellow-stickered food. I also bought my first Too Good To Go box in months, when Morrisons started offering them again. For £3.09 I got a ‘magic box’ of short-dated but perfectly good fresh fruit and veg, which would otherwise have been thrown away. The Morrisons boxes are meant to contain food worth about a tenner, but the contents of mine would actually have come to more than £18 when bought normally.
I’d like to continue my lockdown focus on meal planning and reducing food waste, and I’d also like to continue supporting local businesses, such as getting fruit and veg from Hadleigh market, after Carl the greengrocer organised deliveries during lockdown.
Lockdown: Most pubs, cafes and restaurants were shut, stopping any chance of spending! We did splash out on the occasional takeaway from our local high street.
After lockdown: Even before lockdown, we rarely went to pubs or ate out, so although we might spend a bit more once things reopen I’m not expecting this to skyrocket. I’d just love to be able to have friends round for a barbecue.
Lockdown: With virtually every option for entertainment and leisure spending closed, we spent more time as a family in the garden or going for country walks. At home, I finally caved in and signed up for Netflix.
After lockdown: The Netflix subscription stays, and I’m keen to continue exploring more of the Suffolk countryside and coastline – especially when so much is free to visit!
Here at home, we’re also excited to have added some extra garden. It’s currently neck deep in nettles and brambles so we’ve got a lot to keep us busy right here. Fingers crossed we may even be able to book slots at our newly re-opened tip, to shift the big bags of weeds.
Hopefully, if our local leisure centre survives, it will continue offering free swimming sessions for the kids during the summer holidays. Swimming is one activity they’ve really missed. Here’s hoping Cubs and Scouts restart in September too.
Clothes, shoes and hair
Lockdown: We spent zip all on any clothing and all the hairdressers were shut.
After lockdown: I’d like to keep our spending on new clothes down, but the kids feet have grown so I’m resigned to buying new shoes.
Boy do we all need hair cuts – especially my 10 year old, whose hair is now so bouffant I’m surprised he can fit through the door.
Lockdown: We actually spent more than normal ordering sports stuff and electronics for the kids online. I really missed our local library, and ended up buying more discounted or second hand books than I normally would.
After lockdown: Sod football. I’m just delighted the library is re-opening, and I can go back to reserving new books I’d like to read.
Petrol and car costs
Lockdown: Our petrol bills evaporated when we confined the house and walking distance round it, and MOT tests were delayed.
After lockdown: I’m expecting our fuel costs to creep up, as we make longer permitted trips like going to Walberswick, and my husband returns to the occasional day in the office. We’ve just been hit by our annual car insurance bill and will have to face up to the MOT too.
Holidays and travel
Lockdown: We waved goodbye to our Easter trip to Paris, so not only avoided spending on holidays or travel, but even got a refund in Eurostar vouchers. Any work meetings or events in London were cancelled (boo) but I’ve enjoyed Zoom calls for work and with far flung friends.
After lockdown: This could be expensive! I’m keen to book a self-catering or camping holiday in the UK, once bookings open, to avoid any quarantine issues. I appreciate from 6 July the Foreign Office is lifting restrictions on travel to certain limited places, such as France, Italy, Spain and Greece, but suspect we may prefer to stay closer to home.
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Lockdown: The whole world saw environmental benefits from lower emissions, from fewer flights, fewer car journeys and I suspect less manufacturing. Cleaner air, cleaner water, less litter, more birdsong, goats running rampant in Llandudno – there has been a silver lining to the pandemic.
After lockdown: I’m keen to do Plastic Free July again. Taking part last year made me much more aware of the plastic waste we create as a family, from food and around the house. Think I need that wake up call to make me reduce our plastic waste once more. I’m also keen to continue with all my efforts to avoid food waste during lockdown.
Saving and investing
Lockdown: I finally got round to setting up small monthly payments into my self-employed pension, but we actually spent a big chunk of our savings buying the extra garden.
After lockdown: I’ll definitely be continuing my pension payments, and could do with sorting out my different pensions too. Being stuck at home made me focus on the places I would really love to visit – so if we’re ever to afford a family holiday to Japan, we need to do some serious saving.
Lockdown: We’re incredibly lucky to live debt-free. However, many people seized the chance to stay afloat financially by taking mortgage payment holidays, and deferring other bills and borrowing such as credit cards and car loans. I did take out a Bounce Back Loan to support my business, which is interest-free for the first year.
After lockdown: Sadly, payment holidays don’t make the payments do away, they are just deferred, while interest keeps mounting up. So if you can afford to restart payments, or make partial payments, it will cut the total cost of your debt. I’m hoping to make early repayments on my Bounce Back Loan, to reduced the interest bill.
Now – over to you. What lockdown spending habits do you want to continue? Or do you just want everything to return to normal asap? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear!