I’ve written before about taking the time to think about our spending habits. We are in a particularly unique situation in this current moment; in March 2020, there was a dramatic interruption to our everyday spending and consumption habits!
Some patterns have remained interrupted over the year. Some rhythms are, or will be soon, returning to a closer resemblance to pre-covid. Regardless of our specific situation, interruptions make great opportunities to re-assess! Do my choices reflect my desires, my values, my priorities?
I've spent many of my adult years using the head-in-the-sand, cross-my-fingers approach to financial priorities (also: the spend-as-little-as-possible system and occasionally the spend-money-so-I-don't-have-to-deal-with-this-problem approach, as well!)
Alternately, some intention in this area — as in most things! — takes more time & effort. But, ultimately, I've found, it is the best strategy.
So, in the spirit of intentionality, I invite you to consider with me some questions, if you think they would be helpful to you! This is simply a brainstormed list to get the wheels of thought turning; some
- Which spending habits were disrupted in 2020?
- Decreases in spending:
- Did you spend less on coffees to go, or deli lunches?
- Did your travel/commuting expenses decrease?
- Was a vacation interrupted?
- Did you have a planned purchase, but your needs changed? Or unavailability altered the plan?
- Increases in spending:
- Did you spend more on your home? Renovate or redecorate? Did you invest in work-from-home adjustments?
- Have you signed up for subscriptions (educational courses, streaming entertainment, delivery services, support for a podcast/journalist, clubs) that you otherwise didn’t have?
- Did you donate more money than in previous years?
- Did you purchase more gifts for loved ones?
- Any investments in sanity-savers, like outdoor/sports equipment (camper, trampoline, bicycles), tech, more books, etc.?
- Changes either way
- Online shopping: has it saved me from impulse purchases, or have I been more free in spending?
- Did you save money on dining out, or spend more on take-out?
- Which habits have changed more recently (or changed back); or, what changes do you anticipate for 2021?
- Will you start commuting to work again?
- Are you planning a long-awaited vacation?
- Will you dine out more? Or, when you can visit family & friends & switch it up a bit, will your takeout spending decrease?
- Did you redirect money this past year (from spending on gas, vacations, parties, dining, kids’ activities) to other places (re-decor, books & education, donations, hobbies, entertainment, simplification, housecleaning) — and now your are coming back to a place where all of these will demand your paycheck? Is that sustainable, and if not, what choices will take primacy?
This has been a year of redefining needs in many ways, and that appraisal may have impact on your money, too. Take this interruption as motivation to consider what all of this means for you. Cling on to what is good, what aligns with you, what has been positive. Don't resume the patterns that were negative, from which you've been given a natural break!
Have you had any surprises this year in this way? Interruptions to spending which you've been glad for? Changes that you would never have considered without an outside influence?
I'd love to hear your thoughts! Share in the comments below or by email — email@example.com