How to avoid post lockdown lifestyle creep
For the last four months, the world has changed more than we’ve ever seen before and we’re now heading back to normality, albeit a version a little different to that we’re used to. The biggest return is that of the social life - after months of online socialising only, we’re back to drinking, eating and socialising.
Many people have found lockdown a good opportunity to focus on finances and save some cash and understandably, anxiety is creeping in for many about how to keep up new habits once we start to return to social spending. If you're feeling a bit tentative about spending, here are a few tips to help you stay on track.
First of all, don’t be too hard on yourself. We’ve been in circumstances unlike ever before, where our options for socialising and spending were taken out of our hands by the powers that be. Yes, if you’ve saved some money and paid off extra debt that’s great, but we haven’t been living in a normal world. The ability to save at a super high rate is sustainable when you haven’t got much of a life to be living, but you’re not on Earth to save money. Acknowledge that you will spend more money than over the last few months and don’t feel bad about it.
Review your expenses
This is where the planning comes in. Budgeting isn’t sexy, but having a plan for your money and knowing what needs to go where, as well as how much you have to play with, gives you a sense of control and confidence in your financial decisions. Think about your priorities - how often do you want to go for brunch each month? How much do you typically spend on a night at the pub? Having an idea of how much you will spend and factoring this into your monthly budget isn’t going to ruin your social life - it’ll simply allow you to have fun without the spending stress.
Be open & honest
We’re not very good at talking about money. It’s a major mission of mine (and something we look at in detail in The Money Makeover) to improve the confidence of women when it comes to money talk and our ability to bring up the conversation without fear. Now, coming out of lockdown and being in a new landscape provides an opportunity to open up the conversation with your friends and talk about your financial landscape. Don’t be afraid to say that you’re going home after two drinks, or that you don’t want to spend £50 on dinner because it doesn’t align with your spending plan.
Keep an eye on the goal
Remind yourself what your financial goals are. Often when our goals slip out of focus, it can be easy to become distracted and start to drift further away from them, which often leaves you frustrated down the line. Create a vision board or stick some post-it notes around your home to remind you of what you’re working towards, whether that’s paying off debt, saving for something or building for the future. Check in with yourself regularly to track your progress and you’ll stay motivated.