Right now during these unprecedented times, people are traveling less and reading about traveling less. So, from time to time, here at Miles for Family we will explore other relevant topics.
Since I manage my family’s bills, reading and learning about personal finances is always interesting to me. Aside from the obvious concern for my family’s health and the overall death toll of this pandemic, my next biggest concern is the economy and my family’s own personal financial health.
While neither my husband nor I have been laid off or furloughed, our income is still down. At my husband’s job, we expect his bonus to all but disappear this year. That accounts for 25% of his take-home pay. For the blog, credit card affiliates are pulling way back and disappearing, and ad revenue is down. Overall, we are feeling the squeeze, as I’m sure many of you are.
So I’ve been curious how our spending is going during this quarantine. Are we spending more or less than before, and what categories are moving up vs. going down?
I’m Spending More On…
Grocery Store Food: Pre-quarantine, my husband traveled for work 25%-50% of the month. Now, he’s here 100% of the time. When he traveled, I would sometimes just make pancakes for me and the kids for dinner. Now, all of our dinners are complete meals (except I did make a pancake dinner last week).
In addition, pre-quarantine I had 2-3 meals ready to cook in the fridge/pantry. Now, we have 1-2 weeks worth of meals stocked at home so that we can shop less frequently. So overall, we’re spending more on food.
Restaurant Food: Pre-quarantine, we went out to eat once a week. Now, we are trying to support local restaurants through take-out business. We’re ordering take-out 2-3 times a week at the places we hope will survive the pandemic downturn.
I’m Spending Less On…
Cars: Although nobody in my family had a big commute pre-quarantine, our car trips now are unusually short. The longest drive we’ve had was going from store-to-store hunting for toilet paper. We also don’t have a reason to get on our toll road highways. So, we’re saving on gas and tolls. I am hopeful that we will soon save some money on our car insurance since a few of the big companies announced reductions in premiums during the quarantine.
Kids’ Activities: We’re spending just slightly less on our kids’ activities right now. Each of our kids participates in one sport. Even though weekly lessons aren’t happening right now, we decided to continue paying the organizations during the quarantine. But, my oldest is no longer participating in tennis tournaments 2-4 times a month, which easily saves us $100+ a month.
Also, I expect my family will save more money on summer classes and camps. I had planned to sign my kids up for several day camps and classes, and those may still happen. But I have a feeling that some of the early summer large-group activities may be canceled.
Entertainment: Pre-quarantine, we had purchased tickets to Cirque de Soleil and a Drum Corp International show. Both were canceled, and we will be getting refunds. We used to go to the movies about once a month, and we’d easily spend $100 after tickets and popcorn for my entire family. During the quarantine, we’re watching what is available on Netflix and Disney+. We might splurge $19.99 and watch the new Trolls movie on demand when it comes out this weekend.
Gym, Haircuts, Make-up, Shopping: Right before spring break, our membership to our local city recreation center expired. I intended to renew when we returned from Costa Rica, but shortly after we got back the rec center closed. So, we’re saving a few months of membership fees. Nobody in my family is getting haircuts (although I do plan to support my hairstylist somehow), and I’m wearing and buying less make-up. Overall, despite an initial uptick in Amazon.com purchases, we are shopping for “things” less.
Travel: This may seem like an obvious answer, but I’m spending less on travel even though I didn’t have any travel planned for the month of April. If my May trip was not postponed, this month I would be purchasing Universal park tickets and Disney gift cards to cover our food. I would also be reserving boarding space for our dogs. So, we are saving at least $2000 of pre-trip expenses this month due to lack of travel in May. As more of our summer trips become postponed or canceled, this trend could continue.
My family needs to adjust to our new lower income during this quarantine and recovery time. But, it’s a delicate balance to pull back on spending while still supporting local businesses.
Are you saving a lot of money during this quarantine? Or, are you spending more on unexpected categories?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.