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What’s Your New Normal?

Well, its starting to happen.  In many places things are slowly starting to reopen, or at least talk about reopening.   A lot has changed in the world around us and it will be interesting to see what in the future becomes normal.   Personally, while there are lot of things I am looking forward to returning to normal, there are a number of things that I hope don’t.   And I am not alone.  I spend my days talking to a lot of people, whether that is for work, keeping in touch with family and friends, and even talking to neighbours as they walk by. We talk about what they miss about life before COVID, and what they hope sticks around from COVID living.    Financially, regardless of age, stage of life, or income level, if they have lost their job or if their income hasn’t been affected so much, my informal survey results say that the number one financial thing people hope they don’t go back to doing is spending blindly.

During this lockdown, expenses have been slashed dramatically.  For some this is out of necessity due to lost work or their business was shut down. Others may still be working or are retired but have to stay home. Collectively, everyone is now realizing what they no longer spend money on.  In many ways, the past couple of months has shone a bright spotlight on how blindly many people were spending money.  In the busyness of life, it was easy to add just one more regular monthly expense, or pay the price of convenience, like buying lunch too many times a week.  The savings (or lack of spending) is adding up.   We aren’t spending on big items like travel: vacations, a weekend out of town, or even just a quick trip over the border.   While everyone may be spending more on groceries, it is a direct result of not eating at restaurants.  No impulse buys as you walk past a store.  For those now working from home, they are spending less money on commuting costs like public transportation, gas and parking.   Making coffee at home instead of visiting your favorite coffee shop, halting gym/club memberships, children’s extracurricular activities and more add up to a whole lot of cost savings.   No doubt there are items on this list that you are looking forward to spending money on again, and at the same time there most likely are things on this list that are habits you hope COVID has helped you break.   In my family, we are having conversations about what we miss and want to go back to when we can, as well as what changes we want to keep.   It turns out we all want to keep the healthier lifestyle that ironically a global health pandemic brought us.  We have decided on fewer extracurriculars, walking rather than driving, and more home cooked family dinners.  Essentially the outcome we are hoping for is a combination of more time together and the ability to save more.

When we are busy we spend money thoughtlessly. But over time, spending blindly can drain your bank account, and hinder your ability to save for tomorrow.  This pandemic has hit almost everyone’s finances in one way or another.  And as our world starts to open again, we will all have spending choices to make.   What are the things you miss and value enough to spend money on again?  And what are the COVID spending changes that you would like to keep?  The time for answering those questions is now. Once we open, your world will start spinning again and without this awareness, you may vary well miss the opportunity to improve your savings and instead resume spending blindly.

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