Pandemic Lessons on Spending
Have you ever tried writing a blog while playing Hulk and Spider-man with a two-year-old boy? Well as of today, I have. Let me tell you, it’s fabulous! I’m amazed to still be standing though, as I’ve had about 1,000 imaginary Spidey webs shot at me. Yet, I’ll muster the strength to go on. Folks, look what I have to overcome to keep putting quality articles out for you? That’s my dedication! ?
An interesting thing has started to happen to me over the past few months (more than indulging in comic book hijinks with my son). As my credit card bills become due, they reflect my spending. During these quarantine times, I haven’t spent much money (even my wife hasn’t)! I’m sure I’m much like everyone else as well. We’ve had no dinners out, no trips, and no activities. Essentially, I’ve spent money only at take-out restaurants, drug stores, supermarkets, and, of course, Amazon. I’ve seen my spending go down to the likes of when my wife and I were starting out (and barely had a pot to “you know what” in).
In some regards, it’s nice to see my spending go down (although I know it’s not sustainable). It’s interesting; this forced spending pattern has given me a chance to reflect on what my normal life looks like juxtaposed against my quarantine life. What I realized is there are four clear categories of spending. Interestingly enough, where I would place each purchase today has changed from a few months ago.
What are the categories and, more importantly, what have they taught me about Andrew Rosen?
- The essentials
- The must haves
- The nice to haves
- Not as important as I thought
The essentials –
This category is filled with “bills.” Mortgage, car payments, utilities, etc. In this category, I’ve really tested myself to see what it truly takes to be me. This is important for us all, as it’s a gut check to see what is your minimum amount to “get by.” It can come in real handy if you find yourself out of work, which many people are dealing with or fearful they will have to deal with. This is barebones stuff, but at least you know you can do it if needed. Hopefully, you won’t have to. What have you learned about how thrifty you can be?
The must-haves –
I’m putting this almost as a “1b” to the essentials category. This pandemic has taught me there are certain things that technically I can live without, however to me they are still must-haves. For instance, going out to dinner and drinks with my wife. It may seem like this should be in a different category, but I write a lot about happiness. I also write a lot about having three young kids and a new puppy (and yes, I know these were all my decision). With that said, my wife and I really need our date night. So much so, that it’s a must for us. It’s our opportunity to unwind, destress, and connect as a married couple. It’s my wife’s chance to be a wife and mine to be a husband, where the lines aren’t blurred.
In our relationship, I’ve realized this is crucially important. Our home life isn’t so accommodating for “date night,” but we’re certainly doing our best to improvise. The second we are able, this must-have is going right back into our lives. I’m curious what have you found surprising that you need in your life and aren’t able to spend on right now?
The nice to haves –
This is an interesting category. I’d say there are things that were once must-haves but have now fallen down into this category. Additionally, some things I thought weren’t as important have moved up as well. I’m interested to hear what has shifted for you since you’ve been on lockdown? For me, I’d say it’s car payments. My wife and I drive decent cars, although I’ve never fancied myself a car person. Only now I’m watching those payments go out the door for something I barely use. Not only that, when I’m driving around doing an errand, I simply don’t care that much about what I’m, or anyone else is driving. I just want something that will protect me and my family from a deer jumping out in the middle of the road.
Not as important as I thought –
If you’ve met me, you certainly know I’m styling and profiling. I like my nice shoes and fun socks. Jess and I buy nice clothing, and we enjoy it. I’m not ashamed to admit it, but as I’ve reflected over the past few months, this is a great example of something that is not as important as I probably once thought. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t seen many others for the past few months, or maybe because my jeans, t-shirt, and cardigan are all that I wear now. Regardless, I don’t think we have spent anything on this category in two months and I don’t think I miss it. (Although I did cave and bought a pair of new Cole Haan sneakers. To be fair though, they were 40% off and honestly pretty freaking sharp, don’t you think? My New Shoes.)
I’m curious what revelations you’ve had? Did you learn what it takes to be you for planning purposes? Or are you going to reprioritize your spending when you are able? Maybe you’ll find more time and money for travel. Maybe you’ll want more time around your family and less on material things.
I’m hoping, like me, we can all use this as a chance to reflect on where we’re spending. Are we prioritizing what is most important and, quite frankly, are we prioritizing what we enjoy the most? If not, what are you going to do to change it?
Alright… back to the Hulk/Spidey fight. Wish me luck. He is tiny but mighty!