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Our Team on How Spending and Financial Goals Have Changed

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

This year has already been a whirlwind year. Typically, at the start of the year, we set out to accomplish goals and set resolutions for ourselves – maybe buying a house or going on a long-awaited European vacation. However, with the events surrounding COVID-19 and the economic downturn, many of our goals have changed. We've had to make changes we weren't prepared to make and temporarily adjust to a new way of life. For many, adjusting our finances and budgets has been a necessity too.

Additionally, how and what we purchase has changed some. We asked our team members what changes they have made to their spending and how they have adjusted their budgeting, shopping habits, and more. How has your family budget and spending changed? 

Sticking to a Budget. 

"I've become more consistent with managing my budget. I maintain a monthly spreadsheet to track my income and expenses.  A budget helps me to clearly see where my money is going each month. Because I'm budgeting, I can make extra payments towards credit cards, the principal on my mortgage, and car payments." - Elizabeth

Shopping Online and Grocery Pick Up. 

"I've enjoyed shopping online and using grocery pick up. Not only do I limit my exposure, but I don't buy all the unnecessary stuff I would when I go inside the store walking down the aisles. Plus, as you go along, you can see your total and adjust if needed." – Jamie

Supporting Local Businesses. 

"My financial goals and spending habits have changed a lot over the past few months. During this time, I've reevaluated my spending, and I've taken a break from spending as much on eating at restaurants, gas, and concerts or events. Because I'm not spending as much on these things, I've really been able to focus on paying for my wedding in August! I still occasionally order food from restaurants and visit stores, but I've definitely been trying to spend more at local businesses instead of the big-name stores. I've started grabbing coffee from local coffee shops. I've been ordering from locally-owned restaurants instead of chain restaurants. I've also been buying plants for our yard and for housewarming gifts for friends (a lot of our friends just bought new homes), so I've been shopping at a local plant nursery." - Laurin

Identifying Needs vs. Wants.

"My spending habits have definitely changed this year. I've become better at not being wasteful. I question my wants versus needs. I've gone back to doing things myself that I would normally pay for, and I've canceled some of my regular scheduled appointments, which has helped me to save on gas, as well. Now, I generally go to work, the grocery store, check on my parents, and home. My family does still eat out because we support local food trucks and use to-go services at local restaurants, but the socializing expense is nonexistent." - Sharmett

Putting More Towards Saving. 

"My spending habits have changed slightly. I have placed more of an emphasis on saving now. Instead of making extra payments on debt, I'm temporarily only paying the minimum. I stopped eating out altogether and started cooking more. One good thing to come out of it is I no longer pay for unnecessary streaming services.  I'm also no longer making spur of the moment purchases and have scaled back or canceled vacation plans to help save funds. The most drastic thing I've done is trade in my car for a more affordable and practical gas efficient one." - Matt 

Saving on Car Insurance Premiums.

"I pay my car insurance premium monthly, but now since I'm not driving as much, I'm saving the difference in gas that I would normally spend and I put the extra money in an envelope to pay my insurance in full at my next renewal period. Also, many car insurance companies give a discount for paying the entire premium at once!" – Jamie

Shifting Budgets Due to Childcare. 

"We took on a home improvement project right before everything happened. The project took a huge chunk out of our savings account, so we've been doing everything we can to build our savings back up. While our children's daycare was closed, we took the money we'd normally spend on childcare and set it aside in a savings account. While the kids were home more, our utility and grocery bills increased. Still, we were able to offset that increase with money saved from not having childcare expenses and less money spent on gas. We also canceled most of our travel/vacation plans and have done a couple of staycations instead. Any "extra" money (regardless of how small) is being put into a savings account." - Karen

Cooking at home. 

"My husband and I have doubled down on savings since March. He is an airline pilot, and there has been some uncertainty around when he'll be able to get back to work as usual. We wanted to prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best. We also haven't set foot in a restaurant in what seems like forever, so we've saved money on our' going out to eat' budget. We have ordered takeout occasionally – trying to support local restaurants. We've also tried to make less frequent grocery store trips – we used to go multiple times a week, depending on what we wanted to cook or have for dinner. Now we try to buy in bulk when we can and meal plan." - Connie

We've been talking and writing about the importance of budgeting for a while now. In a crisis, especially one that impacts the economy, budgets are even more crucial to staying on track and ensuring you have a safety net. Recent events have shifted how we do things and in some ways have forced us to take a harder look at our finances altogether. As you can see, many of us have chosen to focus on saving more, and on finding silver linings among the adjustments.