With all the difficulties that have come from the pandemic, it’s important to focus on the positive outcomes too. For the first time in forever, for many of us, we’ve finally had time to stop. To think. To reflect. There’s no better time to re-evaluate our habits and use this situation as an opportunity to move forward in a more positive way.
Here are 10 ways to overhaul your priorities and finances…
1. Make a budget
Set a monthly budget for essentials and non-essentials, such as clothes or beauty products, and stick to it! Look through your finances; consider what you have or haven’t missed during the lockdowns and take the time to make saving goals for the things that you enjoy. If nothing else, this situation has proved that life is too short not to do whatever it is that makes you happy.
With a clear budget, you’ll think more carefully about what you actually need, and this can help you to free up cash for the more important things. As life gets back to normal, what is it you most want to do?
2. Cancel what you don’t need
End subscriptions or memberships that you hardly use, or have been easily able to do without during the lockdowns. For instance, if you’d been paying out £50 a month for the gym, but have enjoyed free online classes or taken up running or cycling instead, why not make the change permanent? Exercise doesn’t have to cost a penny and the money could be used elsewhere. For more info read my post on exercising for free.
3. Change your eating habits
Plan your weekly meals to make sure that there’s always something to eat in the house, and have a little junk food in the freezer for when you’re short of time or craving a pizza! It’s much cheaper to cook your own food, and usually a lot healthier too. Make sure you read my meal planning tips.
I’ve used the lockdowns to try new recipes and found that some of our favourite restaurant meals are actually really simple to cook. Keeping things tasty and interesting meant that we didn’t really miss eating out or having takeaways, and it’s a change that will certainly be permanent. Don’t forget to take a look at my delicious recipes!
4. Don’t auto-renew
For insurances and other monthly payments, use your spare time wisely to shop around online to get the best deals available. You could reduce your outgoings by hundreds of pounds every month without a single change to your lifestyle! Remember to use Quidco too, for an added bonus – cashback bonuses on these sorts of things are usually really high. Check out my post on cashback for more info.
5. Declutter your home
Imagine being able to wipe your kitchen and bathroom, dust your house and hoover without having to waste time tidying first. Letting go of the things we don’t need is a great way to simplify the housework and save us time. My four step decluttering guide will help you to get started.
And, once you get into the ‘less is more’ mindset, you’ll be reluctant to re-introduce clutter into your life. This is great news for your bank balance, as you’re more likely to avoid impulse buying! Once you become more mindful of what comes into your home, you’ll be wondering where you will put each purchase, how much use it will get and most likely decide not to purchase things you don’t need or love. So, get on top of the house and have a fresh start.
6. Sell what you don’t need
Once you’ve decluttered, sell the items that you no longer need. It’s amazing how quickly £10 here and there can add up, and you might even have some items that could fetch a decent amount of cash. Keep things safe by posting sold items or use contactless collection – making sure that everything is disinfected first. Social media selling pages are usually a great place to start, as you can sell for free, with eBay being better for branded or more niche items. Be sure to read my tips on how to make the most of eBay.
7. Assess your debt and savings
If you made some savings whilst being at home, put that money to good use by clearing outstanding debts. Interest makes up such a huge part of most debt, so even paying off small amounts of money can make a significant difference in the long-term. Think about moving your money around too, and switch credit card debt to cards with 0% interest offers. When the interest is lessened, it allows the money paid off each month to actually tackle the debt itself.
8. Reassess your luxuries
Aside from a yearly eyebrow top-up, my only beauty expense is a haircut a few times a year. But, some of my friends have their hair and nails done every few weeks, as well as brow tints, facials, waxing and all sorts of other expensive treatments. What this situation has shown is that so many of these things can be done at home, or just not done at all!
They’ve saved a fortune during the lockdowns, and now’s a great time to think carefully about whether permanent changes can be made. For instance, just painting your own nails could save you £20 a month. And, colouring your own hair, or using a root touch-up kit to extend the time between expensive hair appointments, could save you hundreds of pounds each year. Take the time to reassess what you can do without, and read my beauty money saving tips for lots more ideas!
9. Reduce your waste
With the bare supermarket shelves that we faced at the start of the first lockdown, this situation has really shown us the importance of food, and how much we take it for granted. Studies show that we waste 33% of the food we buy, which is bad news for our hard-earned cash and the planet, but there couldn’t be a better time to make some necessary changes.
With less frequent supermarket trips, we’ve had to cook more creatively and make the most of our leftovers. And, as we tried to avoid the supermarket for as long as possible, I think everyone became even more conscious of reducing waste.
10. Change what you value
The lockdowns have certainly had some positive effects on my life – allowing me to see what’s really important. I hope that others will reflect too, and make some permanent changes to their lifestyles. Slowing down is good for our well-being, as well as our bank balance!
We’ve realised what and who are important in our lives, and how often we took for granted spending time with those we love the most. It isn’t the expensive meals out that we’ve missed, but the people that we would usually enjoy sharing those evenings with. Time and love don’t cost a penny, but they are certainly our most valuable assets.