Will Covid affect your future spending patterns?

We’ve been through several months of this pandemic and it’s taking its toll on everyone. It’s also causing havoc for the economy. But how is it changing our behaviour?

Just for a bit of clarity, I am GFF and as a family we are moving towards the “work is optional” phase of our lives. My eldest has a year before school starts and we are tied down to school terms and holidays and the Lady and I both have work from home possible jobs. We are privileged to have put in 15 years of saving to end up cocooned during the Covid crisis.

I keep a track of our spending and I’ve done so for years. I do this for a number of reasons – prime amongst them was that I didn’t once and spent all my student loan money at university – after that, I kept weekly (now monthly) records of what I spent money on and in what categories. It allowed me to make observations, predictions and take action.

Bring on 2016 – 2020 and we’ve been through being pregnant, having kids, moving house and setting up home (plus making improvements, changing jobs , paying for childcare and enjoying our lives. It’s marked a significant change from our lives before and even at the time, I realised that kids don’t necessarily end up costing you more.

Pre-2016 we spent a lot on travel – weekends away here there and everywhere as well as longer trips and skiing (maybe £1000 a month on average) and with travel comes eating out (which is not cheap). A lot went on cars (and constant drip of money on fuel costs (£300 a month) as well as everything else. Rent was cheap (£480/m) though.

2016-2020 our spending was actually down as we travelled less (kids and pregnancy) and stayed at home more. Mortgage was cheaper (£200) but housing costs added up and childcare costs when they came were high too! But with less commuting and a fuel card, we were better off. We also consciously or unconsciously bought less rubbish/junk – I for one have not bought a pair of socks in a couple of years.

Post-Covid spending expectations

I think that once we either post-Covid or with-Covid, our family spending should settle down to become lower overall, notwithstanding childcare costs (which are horrendous!) but I expect the following things to play out.

  1. We travel internationally less but make fewer and longer trips – slow travel you could say. A family skiing holiday might be a sacrifice we make. More holidays to visit family (cheap but not stress free)
  2. We spend less on driving around the country as our commutes are much less (a blessing from working from home vs. a 135 mile round trip for me). We’ll probably scrap the second car saving money in doing so.
  3. Housing costs lower as we’ve paid for all the big things and I maybe do more DIY than pay others to do it for me.
  4. Since we spend more time at home, we spend less on impulse food, takeaways and ready-made meals. Instead we prepare more from scratch using good quality, healthy ingredients
  5. Our spending on clothes for the adults of the family decreases but the kids’ goes up.
  6. Costs of things like entertainment (museums, theatre, cinema) etc… ramps up as much as possible as well as eating in cafés with less evening meals out.

This might seem pretty obvious, but the big areas of disposable income spending were for us travel. Our work related costs (cars, commute, costume) will reduce, saving us money.

Where more spending is desirable, I expect we’ll take it. I don’t mind spending £50 for tickets to the theatre, I think it’s well worth it – but where before we’d head to Edinburgh for a night (plus dinner and a few drinks), post-Covid we’ll make it a day trip.

Overall, our outrageous family spending should drop significantly. Lop off childcare, travel, home and work costs and we can live a great life quite frugally.

I’ll still keep a track on the spending – that’s just who I am – and I do expect that our Personal Withdrawal Rate will not drop to less than 4% overnight, we’ll be going in the right direction and when the basis of the 4% rule is that you spend 4% of your nest egg on day one of RE (plus inflation), you can start off at 6% and start spending less and you’ll be ok.

Over to you

What about you? How do you expect your spending to change in the future? Has covid made you feel like you are just bursting to explore the world again, to live life and enjoy yourself by spending? Or are you thinking that a more settled (and cheaper life) is the one for you? Maybe you are thinking of moving to get the type of life you want or maybe you now feel that you appreciate what you have and are content that that.

Thanks, GFF

11 comments

  1. The pandemic, and particularly the lockdown, gave us all time to think about our living conditions and lifestyles.

    We came to appreciate access to outdoor spaces more, something long taken for granted. Those without yards or balconies seemed to do it harder than those with them.

    We became more aware of our social circles outside of work. When everyone is working from home, who were we socialising or chatting on the phone to?

    We cast a critical eye over our “normal” existence of long commutes, cubicle dwelling, business travel, and so on. It was surprising how little of it we missed when working from home and Zoom replaces it all. How many would choose to go back to the way it was fully?

    In my house we probably went a different direction in terms of spending. Juggling home schooling and endless calls led to more takeaway meals, a factor of being time poorer.

    The big savings were on holidays, though I’d argue we were poorer for their absence, if not financially so.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought I had my spending as low as it could go, but lockdown has clearly shown me I was wrong. I barely have the car off the drive (apart from massive trips sometimes that can’t be helped) just now, and I’m hoping that will continue. Food costs rose initially, but that seems to have settled down now. In fact I’ve just knocked £100 off my food budget now that my eldest is away to uni and my maintenance has halved as a result. It’ll be interesting to see how manageable that is. I’ve only had one haircut since lockdown, and I reckon maybe 2 cuts a year and doing my own fringe inbetween is perfectly plausible. These savings are going towards my work to the house budget, as there’s most definitely some things I want to get done.

    I’ve done quite a few mortgage applications for people looking to move to the country/nearer to family/wanting a garden as a result of lockdown. It’s definitely made people evaluate what’s really important to them.

    It’ll be interesting to see if the changes to people’s spending habits is permanent or just a flash in the pan.

    Like

  3. We’ve never had silk sheets but we do own some inherited unused Egyptian cotton sheets, presumably originally bought in the 1930s, 40s, or 50s. I seems almost a shame to use them now. Maybe once they might be a century old?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Lockdown and the pandemic has resulted in my spending being reduced on travel (petrol and public transport), social outings (eating/drinking out, taxis) and foreign holidays.

    I miss the latter two so look forward to spending on that front again but I hope that I’ll be able continue to work from home (with only the occasional day in the office) to keep those work travel costs down.

    Probably been spending a bit more on food but alcohol purchase and consumption is no more than it was pre-COVID.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do you still think that you’ll want to travel as much? I’ve maybe been on 5-10 personal return flights a year over the last 20 years but post covid maybe that’ll drop down a lot (kids is one major factor).
      We seen to be eating out a lot more now that the lockdown is lifted and the kids are at nursery and we are both working from home, so cafes for lunch and the cost saving comes from no commute. Win win

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s