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Those of us lucky enough to continue earning an income throughout lockdown have just been through one of the greatest savings opportunities of a generation, potentially ever.
In no other time in history have people been able to continue earning an income while being forced not to spend it.
Of course, rent, mortgages, bills and other necessities would have needed to continue being paid for, but anything left over quite literally could not be spent – everything was closed.
This felt like a much needed pause on the rampant consumer behaviour that has cursed the modern world. The next best thing is always only 6-12 months away even if you’ve just spunked £1000 on the latest iPhone; that’s insane!
Debt statistics from Jan 2020 (before Covid really took hold in the U.K), showed that households have on average over £2,500 of credit card debt with over £140million being put towards interest alone, per day.*
It’s clear there’s a personal debt crisis in the U.K and it isn’t slowing.
But with this forced pause on spending over the summer came some financial positives.
I’ve noticed it myself. So here are 4 things I’ve NOT been spending money on over lockdown that would have been a regular occurrence prior…
I think this is the most obvious one. Having been stuck inside for 3 months and working from home there’s been no need to use the car as much.
I have, obviously, been on a few country drives to keep my sanity and went to Brighton one weekend when lockdown was briefly lifted, but nowhere near as much as I did previously.
Commuting and weekend driving would usually cost around £120 – £160 a month depending on how thirsty my car was feeling that month so that’s quite the considerable saving on its own.
Coming out of lockdown I worked one week in the office and one week at home which continued to save petrol consumption. I can see this becoming a regular fixture up and down the country with more people working from home.
This can only benefit our pockets, and just as importantly, our environment. I can still see a use of working from the office, but this lockdown has proven to many employers that working from home is possible on a larger scale than just middle management.
I love my books. I only buy physical books too. I’m one of few people who just can’t get behind the Kindles and e-books thing. I can definitely see the benefit but it’s just not for me.
I spend a fair bit on books because I like to buy from actual bookshops and charity stores and not Amazon. A bookshop isn’t just another hughstreet shop to me, it’s a little place to explore and wander around for an hour or so – an experience.
I love the smell and the quiet. And even in the likes of Waterstones you can get quite a personal experience from the staff recommending genuinely good books and not just trying to flog you the latest D-List celebrity’s autobiography.
But alas, this was one of the things I was unable to do over lockdown with all the shops being shut. I’d usually buy a few books a month. Luckily I had quite the backlog to get through so I was all set (if you were worried).
The pub is more than just a drink, it’s a place to socialise and meet. And while that community pub of the like you’d see on Only Fools and Horses is probably fading, it’s still got that sense of familiarity that I never realised I relied on until Boris told me I was no longer allowed to go there.
However, with these closures it’s certainly been one of my biggest savings. No more quick Thursday pint or Saturday ‘sash’ to drain the bank balance.
It’s something the media seem to use as an excuse as to why millennials can’t afford houses.
Now I’m not one to be all ‘woe is me’ about this, but it might have something to do with the average house price in my are being 14x my wage, rent being the highest it’s ever been in relation to the average wage and general living becoming more expensive while wages stagnate since 2008. And a little bit less to do with that £2 coffee I had with a mate I hadn’t seen in X months.
I would usually buy 1-2 a week. Sometimes I’d buy none and others I’d buy most days.
Of course this luxury also fell foul to shop closures and probably comes third on the list of my biggest savings over lockdown.
But what have I spent MORE on?
There are a few things I have actually spent more on though.
With the closure of just about everything I’ve become a little more experimental in the kitchen.
I’ve always loved cooking and trying new things, but being stuck inside has meant this has been ramped up to 11.
I’ve also been bottling gin and baking things like macaroons and scones which I’d never attempted before and it’s mostly come out pretty well if I don’t say so myself.
Because of the closure of the pubs and bars, I’ve been spending a little more on beer to drink at home.
I never spent much anyway, and still don’t spend a tonne, but it’s definitely more than I did pre-lockdown.
I’ve also got into craft beer a lot more, which has seen me subscribe to Beer52 who deliver monthly beer boxes straight to my door giving me a taste of different beers and breweries I probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise. It’s a fun treat, and has opened my eyes up to buying from smaller breweries rather than the big corporates.
So those are my biggest savings – and a few items I’ve found myself ‘lifestyle creeping’ on.
If anything this lockdown has hardened my mindset that I just don’t need a lot of stuff to make me happy, or keep me satisfied.
I’ll occasionally buy the newest iPhone, but usually make it last 4-5 years on a cheap contract rather than buying a new one when it comes out.
I’m also into my watches (shoutout CW), but am always wary of that feeling of addition these sorts of luxuries can bring where the next best item is ‘just around the corner’.
But I always make sure I’m getting the best value out of all these non-necessities I buy. It’s always something I’ll use, and use a lot.
Either way, I hope everyone is staying safe. Lockdown is only for just over another week…he hopes.