Not that any of us needed yet another pandemic-based portmanteau, but here it is regardless – Covidflation. You might have noticed it during the weekly shop, at your favourite restaurant or even when browsing for clothes online – things are getting more expensive, and it’s causing living costs to go up, while our salaries and lifestyles remain the same.
As companies attempt to recoup some of the losses of the pandemic and Brexit complicates the import and export of goods, we might notice our budgets being ever more stretched without feeling that we’re getting anything of value in return for our extra cash. Not ideal if you’re trying to save or progress financially in any way. Here are some tips for keeping costs down, even when they’re determined to creep up:
Do a lifestyle audit
Even if you had the time and space to contemplate your lifestyle during successive lockdowns – whether you were ready to break your dependence on retail therapy, or had an epiphany about how a picnic in the park can be just as nice as a slap-up meal – the temptations that resurfaced as the country opened up might have been enough to lure you back into the trappings of an expensive lifestyle again. While the first month or so of relative freedom and enjoyment has been wonderful, and it’s not worth carrying any guilt from that, now that the initial buzz is over, it might be a good time for a bit of an audit.
Take some time to think about what you missed and what you didn’t and what’s been worth the money since you got back out there. If you can trim down a bit of your spending on things like eating out, and maybe re-adopt some of those more frugal lockdown habits, you should be able to balance out some of those increasing costs relatively easily – you might even find you enjoy a stroll with a homemade coffee now that it’s not your only leisure activity!
Check your relationship with consumerism
Being able to visit the shops again is lovely, and the high street does need our support, but that doesn’t mean that the onus for propping up retail businesses should be placed directly upon our shoulders. According to new research from F&C Investment Trust and BMO, Millennials and Gen Zs feel more anxious about the economy, and more pressured to spend than any other generation, but it’s really important to protect your own financial wellbeing, and not get into trouble for the sake of fuelling the economy.
When you want to spend on something new, try to make sure that your purchases are considered in advance most of the time, and think about what you’re putting your money into rather than just what fund it’s coming out of – choose businesses with a mission that you support, and you’ll get a buzz that lasts much longer than those post-purchase endorphins usually do. Constantly consuming is not the only way that you can support small, independent and ethical brands, though – spreading the word and giving recommendations are really valuable, too.
Think about what you’re paying for, and when it’s worth it
For times when you can’t avoid spending slightly more than you’d like to, it’s worth considering the value of what you’re buying, whether it’s a meal with friends or a new dress. When you buy a meal in a restaurant, it’s not just the food and service you’re paying for, but the company and the experience of spending time with the people you care about at long last. When you buy a new beauty product or item of clothing, you’re buying something that you’ll be able to enjoy, and that will make you feel cared for. Thinking about this more deeply will not only help you to decide where to direct your funds – i.e. no more drinks with frenemies that leave you feeling worse than they found you – but it will help you to feel more positive about the times when you do choose to part with your cash.
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