As you probably know, coronavirus (COVID-19) is throwing a wrench in basically everything. Vacations, concerts, hanging out with friends… pretty much everything fun. (Not to mention all the scary parts, too 😐 ) For me, it has also thrown off my budget… like, majorly.
Thankfully, my husband and I both still have our jobs. We know how lucky we are, and we are grateful every single day that our budget is the only money-related thing that needs some extra attention right now.
There are a few factors that have contributed to my COVID budget changing during this time, so let’s review what is changing, why, and how I’m handling it!
This has been the biggest adjustment for us. My husband and I budget quite a bit for food, especially considering its just the two of us, and we don’t have any kids. This is because we like to go out to eat. Often. We have one line for going out to eat in our budget and another one for groceries. Since we know that we are definitely going to go out to eat a few times per week, we drop our grocery budget a bit to counter that.
Reason #1 our food budget changed: The pandemic put the axe on going out to eat, so we have been buying more groceries. At first, I was concerned. We were routinely going OVER our grocery budget by a LOT. But then I remembered:
No budget line item is set in stone. A good budget should be flexible, and adjustments should be made to account for life’s inevitable changes. Whether that’s the loss of a job, a new savings goal, or a global pandemic.
Okay, so we can still order food to go, and we can still have food delivered. So we can’t spend all of our Going Out to Eat Budget on groceries– but we did steal some of it.
Reason #2: Grocery stores in my area have been running really low on the basics. I generally make a strict list and stick to it. But lately, when I get to the store, they are out of several things, and I have to think of new meal ideas on the fly. This leads to more ingredients, accidentally buying things I already have at home, and impulsively buying extra packages of cookies….because… Stress…..
(I do try to plan a few backup meals that have similar ingredients, but lately, those have been getting messed up, too. The store is usually out of really basic things like chicken. And beef. And pork. And fish. 😐 Veggie tacos it is?)
Reason # 3: Basically our only source of entertainment now is watching YouTube videos and eating snacks. So we are buying a LOT more snacks. Cheese dip is now a staple. Also, popsicles.
Entertainment, Travel, and Shopping Budgets:
We’re at home, y’all. Our entertainment is:
- Being at home
- Making different kinds of nachos.
Our travel and shopping both now basically only consist of the local Kroger. So, it only makes sense. We have allotted some of the money in our COVID budget from less-used categories towards groceries.
Home Needs Budget:
Working from home made me want to work ON my home. We have spent more money than we normally would have on updating things around the house. (On a COVID budget, of course) Honestly, this has been money well spent and I wish we had done it sooner!
So my hobbies typically used to include going out to eat with my friends and going shopping with my friends. Nowadays, I’ve had to find other ways to entertain myself while at home. I finally subscribed to Disney+ and Kindle Unlimited. I have spent more time in my flower beds, and taking care of my house plants (read: buying new house plants). So, this isn’t money I would normally spend. I don’t typically watch much TV, and I prefer actual books to e-books, but a new way of life means trying new things. We’ll see how much of this stuff I keep up with and how many of these things I forget about when we can get back to normal.
At first, all this change was stressful to me, especially during such scary and uncertain times. But I’m getting the hang of it. I’m trying to relax and remember: This is temporary. If the budget isn’t perfect, it doesn’t matter. Buy the $10 thing of fancy cheese and ENJOY IT.
3 Things to Remember About Budgeting During a Pandemic:
- A COVID budget should be flexible. You should be able to make changes and adjustments based on your ever-changing needs. This is one of those times!
- It’s okay if you’re going over your budget in some areas right now. No one really prepares you for how to handle a global pandemic. Give yourself plenty of grace, and keep trying!
- The forced change might make you realize you were overspending in some areas and underspending in others! See if you can find some positives that you’ll keep up with when life gets back to normal.