Like many families, the Horrells have been pretty well at home for nearly three months now. My husband is still going into the office most days, and one person had a doctor’s appointment that needed to happen, and we’re all going out for walks/runs/bike rides, but that’s about it. I’m thankful that we have the privilege to remain at home, and I am glad to do it if it helps prevent even one person from getting this horrible virus, or if it gives the researchers and medical professionals more time to figure out how this is transmitted, what treatments are most effective, and maybe even develop a vaccine.
Anyway, back to the finance side of things. I know that there are many people who are struggling financially, and it is horrible. There are also quite a few people who are not struggling, including a large portion of military families who have not lost their military paycheck. Y’all know I’m big on looking at things from different perspectives, and I think it’s fascinating to look at how your spending has changed during this time at home, and what that means and how it can inform your behavior in the future.
At our house, there have been some major swings in some of our largest budget categories. Housing has remained basically the same, with just a little uptick in the electric bill as we inch towards 24-hour household ops. (Those young adults need to go to bed. But that’s another topic altogether.) Our grocery bill jumped sharply for the first month or so – one day I spent an entire month’s budget on groceries, between my first commissary trip in weeks and a large Instacart delivery. Our transportation costs have gone down dramatically, with our monthly gas spending cut by 3/4, insurance refunds, and lower maintenance costs. There have been a couple of quarantine purchases, including a ping-pong table, and a higher quality headset for those online meetings, along with the usual things that need to be purchased from time to time, like printer ink, and some workout clothes, and earbuds. We have really needed those earbuds.
This seems like a big ramble, but like most rambles, there are some nuggets of wisdom to be found. In our case, there have been two really useful observations that can provide benefits when life starts looking a little more normal:
Our “allowances” are lasting a lot longer. A way lot longer. I haven’t taken cash out of an ATM in over three months. I have somehow managed to survive without my beloved pizza shop salads and the occasional restaurant hamburger. Takeaway: We probably don’t need to spend so much on allowances in the future. At least mine.
Once we got past the first month of stocking up and learning how to plan, our food budget has flexed to absorb two people home from college. I figured that wouldn’t be possible, but it is…and we’re eating well. Takeaway: We could probably lower that food budget when people go back to college.
So what’s happening in your spending? What “just is,” and what is really useful information that you can use in the future? Will your spending change in the future because of what you’ve learned? How will you come out of quarantine smarter when it comes to money?
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