I was looking at our families expenses the other day and found myself amazed, but in a good way. We’ve always been a fairly frugal family so you can imagine my shock when I saw that we had been able to significantly lower our monthly expenses.
I know, I’m a finance guy, and these types of things shouldn’t catch me off guard.
But they did.
We had managed to save more money than I anticipated during our sheltering-in-place. And I know that many people are having a similar experience. COVID-19 has forced us to adjust the way we do life and find alternatives for products and services that we previously enjoyed.
So where are a few places where we are finding savings?
1. Haircuts. This was an immediate savings for my family. We have three young boys in our house. Our boys get a haircut about once every six weeks, which is about nine haircuts per year per boy (twenty-seven total haircuts per year). A haircut for my boys runs about $20 per haircut. This cost includes a tip. Let me do the math for you:
3 boys x $20 per haircut x 27 haircut = $1,620.
That’s a lot of money for haircuts. As soon as it looked like we were going shelter-in-place, I purchased the Wahl Color Pro Cutting Kit for $20. (Please note that they price for this set has dramatically increased since my purchase.)
You can see the immediate savings. My novice barber skills significantly reduced this budget line item. And my boys actually prefer the at-home haircut set up. So, this cost savings will likely stick for a while.
Now, you may have noticed that I did not include myself in this equation. I am currently cutting my own hair, but I am not committing myself to doing this past the sheltering-in-place. My boys appreciate my barber skills more than I do.
2. Eating out. Prior to the pandemic, eating at restaurants was frequently cited as a significant cost for families and younger generations. While our family budget wasn’t consumed with restaurant costs, we still ate out about once per week.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume the cost for eating out was $100 per week. That’s $5,200 per year.
While delivery is still available, many families are reducing the amount spent on restaurants. And the reduction is increasing financial margin. Our family is experiencing that right now. And it is nice.
3. Groceries. Our family has increased the level of intentionality when it comes to groceries. Like many families, we try to reduce the number of times we must go to the grocery store. The reduction in visits decreases our expenses in two ways.
First, we are more thoughtful with our purchases. We purchase items we know we will eat. Wasting food creates the need to more frequently visit the store and spend more. And because we often order online, impulse purchases are pretty much eliminated.
Second, we buy in bulk. We purchase staple foods in larger quantities. Prior to the pandemic, we bought in bulk to a certain extent. But now, we try to take advantage of it whenever possible. Of course, this reduces grocery store visits and decreases our food expense.
Of course, these practices and savings can easily carry over post-pandemic for us all.
4. Entertainment. Movie theaters—closed. Sporting events—cancelled. Amusement parks—shut down. The list goes on and on.
Everyone is forced to find other entertainment options. And because most paid entertainment options are unavailable, we have turned to free alternatives. Nature trails, rec leagues, backyard football, bike riding, books, and streaming services are all on the uptick.
Our family has greatly increased walks on the nature trails that surround our neighborhood. Do I still miss some of the old entertainment options? Of course. But, do I miss the expenses associated with it? Not really.
And like our family, many are learning that entertainment doesn’t have to be so costly all the time.
Look at your expenditures. What do you see? Have they decreased? If so, what are you learning? What are some ways you can continue to save money after the pandemic?
Leverage this time to increase your present and future financial margin.