If you’ve been lucky enough to keep your job during the pandemic, you may have noticed a strange thing: there is money left in your bank account at the end of each month. Some have found that cutting back on commutes, meals, trips, haircuts and half a million hen backs has turned out to be rather lucrative.
But as the world reopens, you may have noticed that the opposite is happening again, especially after a sunny holiday weekend. I have: my money is quickly sucked into the black hole of real life. I’m typing on the card machine again with one eye closed, grimacing at my coffee and sandwich costing practically the same price as a supermarket (in London, anyway). Thank goodness the world is back in business, but my bank balance is feeling this familiar sting. Jump in an Uber – Ka-ching! Go for a drink – Ka-ching! Breathe anywhere that is not at home – Ka-ching, Ka-ching!
I went from being able to cancel all four consistent transactions on my monthly bank statements to not being able to keep tabs on my spending again. Our new (old) way of life means grabbing things on the go and going back to less conscious follies. Although it’s only recently come out of lockdown, I’m already feeling the rebound squeeze.
Rebecca, 38, says this month is the first time in over a year she needs to actively count down the days to payday.
“ I booked a bunch of fun things for May without thinking about how I was going to pay for them all. I found myself using my credit card to pay for groceries for the first time in ages. I had thought I had started to organize myself a bit more with money – in fact, it was just a lockdown.
The past year has turned out to be catastrophic for some, with the most recent unemployment rate at 4.8%, according to the Office of National Statistics – more than at the start of the pandemic. For anyone who has gone through redundancy, the rebound compression will be even tighter. Plus, many companies have raised their prices to recoup lost revenue – it’s hard to blame them after the year they’ve had.
Christie, 33, works in the arts and has spent a year without a job. She only started winning again recently. “Over the past two months, my expenses have been the highest in so long,” she says. “ I’m afraid this will become the norm and my credit card will go up. I panicked and thought I should try to cut it down, but I also can’t help myself because I want to heal myself and go out and have fun again.
I never quite mastered the art of living within my means, but now it’s even more difficult; we’re like a bunch of hyperactive kids who have been released into a play area after a year without toys – we want to enjoy the pubs, restaurants, theaters and beauty salons that we’ve been deprived of.
Laura Whateley, Money Columnist in Grazia, says there are ways to do this in a reasonable way. “ Get yourself a bank account or an app to track and categorize your spending, like Starling, and help yourself budget with separate spaces or jars so you don’t go through all of your money in your current account, ” says -it. She also suggests setting post-pandemic spending rules: “ Like a 5: 2 – two days a week, you go around like you’re still locked (i.e. not at all), the other five , you can be more relaxed, ” she says. “Also, set savings goals. You have shown that you can survive without spending so much
as usual, so maybe try to keep it going – pretend your income is 90% of what it really is and save the other 10%. Yet if relearning to budget is another byproduct of the pandemic, so be it – squeezing the rebound is a small price to pay for having our freedoms again.
READ MORE: The Big Parenting Money Guide