Why I miss spending money

As countries begin to ease the confinements of lockdown, it is yet to be seen what kind of world we will all return to.

Countries like Germany and New Zealand have clearly dealt with the virus exceptionally well. Countries like the UK and USA clearly have not. The UK and USA have probably got two of the most similar cultures in the world, so it is fair to say we will return to similar working conditions.

However, the UK is not the home of the Tech Giants that have recently announced they are allowing employees to never go back to the office. This will trickle down the spectrum as multi-nationals and other tech firms follow suite. But what does it mean for those at ‘normal’ companies?

What about our spending patterns? The USA announced an abnormally high monthly savings rate during the lockdown. Is this because people were counting the pennies (cents, sorry!) due to the threat of redundancy? Or, is it because there is literally nothing to spend your money on? How long is that likely to last?

I, for one, miss spending money

Having seen a few people speak about having a 70%+ savings rate for the months of April and May, I can relate, mine was about 80%. This feels great and, naturally, it has a direct impact on the pursuit of financial independence and retiring early.

But, as I have been deep in thought during the coronavirus pandemic, it begs the question… what are we saving for?

This may come across as falsely deep. It is obvious that having a month or two of 80% savings rate is fantastic for bringing retirement closer. There is not anything else to spend money on during the pandemic, anyway. So, why wouldn’t you save all the money?

I concur. I have saved this too. But where does this end? As we all ease out of the lockdown and adjust our proverbial eyes to the new normal world, how will we readjust our spending patterns? You managed to go without going to restaurants during the pandemic, still fed yourself. You managed to go without the Pub during the pandemic, lord knows I have still drank. You manged without the gym, the cinema, abroad holiday, skiing, surfing, bowling, football… you get my drift.

I, for one, miss spending money … on the things I want to spend money on. It will be easy to go back into the new normal with a new lease of frugality.

After all, you managed to go without it during the lockdown. But what if this is the new normal, what if Covid-20 is currently gathering pace in some rural village somewhere. What if we dip into a world of coming in and out of lockdowns due to a new annual pandemic without a vaccine.

I’m not trying to be gloomy!

I am trying to add a bit of context to coming out of lockdown in the pursuit of frugality and unnecessary spending. There are some areas of life where spending, at least for me personally, will be vastly reduced. It is very unlikely I will continue to spend as much money on work clothes as I did before. IF I go to the office, it will be a lot less frequently then we used to. It is very unlikely I will continue to spend as much as I do on transport, working from home is a gift to those with a long commute.

I will probably spend more (and then less) on my fitness. Despite the tone of this post, I am actually very worried about contracting the virus when I do return to going outside the bunker.

I will probably stop going to my gym, that I miss so dearly, once I’ve bought enough home equipment. I am thinking of putting some serious dollar down to equip the shed in my garden with a full suite of home equipment. Then once that has been bought, the gym membership can go and all I have to do is maintain motivated. I have lost motivation very quickly with my lockdown running.

I will spend less money on haircuts. I cannot believe I spent £18 every month on my haircut. It never looked any different. £36 buys all the equipment I need and off we go, a family member can do it for free and I am saving £216 a year.

On your deathbed you won’t look back at 2020 for the savings rate

However, we are social animals. I miss going to the restaurants with my better half. I miss going to the pub with her/my family. I miss going on impromptu weekends away and hotel stays in some remote places.

I miss experiencing new culture. Newsflash – refreshing twitter and exhausting Netflix is literally the opposite of experiencing new culture.

I am all for increased savings rate. Even though I automate my investments straight after payday, I had to go in and manually invest a decent bit more this month, as I know that I wouldn’t be spending the same level as ‘normal’ (normal inception now, not sure which normal this one is anymore).

Enjoy the windfall from your reduced expenses. Donate to charities. Pick up some hobbies, free or paid. Buy some books and read more. Do something new, I can guarantee you will still have an astounding savings rate. It is not all about saving saving saving. We have a life to live.

This is not actually about spending money. It is about lockdown. It is about boredom. It’s about lack of life.

We will come out of this, all of us. But what we do when we come out of it is yet to be decided. I think the appreciation and enjoyment I get out of certain aspects of life will be so much more apparent. I’m already grateful for the chance (finances) to experience what I am going to when this is all over.

I, for one, miss spending money… as one day I will not be here to spend it.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Chris@TTL

    We certainly miss spending on the things we care about that we can’t replicate on our own.

    I miss going to see live performances at our local theater.

    I miss going to the art and history museums down the street from us that we’re members of.

    We both miss many small opportunities to support the local shops around us with their tasty flavors and little luxuries.

    We miss spending money, too.

    Still, it’s been a great opportunity to force us to find different ways to fill our time: virtual board game meetups (we use Zoom + the physical board game replicated on both sides of the call), crafting, and, well, for us – lots of writing.

    They’re generally free things, but that’s only incidental. Maybe we’ll even carry them into a post-COVID future. That’s not so bad.

    1. J

      I really hope that your local theater has navigated this period and comes through the other side. An area of the economy which really does rely on our movement and spending.

      Good point! The virtual catch ups with their funky quirks (games and quizzes) are free alternatives that should hopefully stick around!
      Thanks for your comment

  2. Steveark

    Really aren’t missing anything here. Still run with our running group several times a week on the town streets, Still play tennis with my friends, even league tennis team play is back. Still get to hike and ride offroad trails in our all terrain vehicle. Still get to fish all the lakes around here in my boat. Still do light consulting and heavy volunteer work. Church is back meeting again. Never really noticed much of a change. But we live in a rural area where it’s easy to social distance without staying home.

  3. Kat Rucker

    Very valid point, you can only save so much without it impacting your happiness! I’ve fallen into that rabbit hole before, where you cut back your lifestyle so much to save that you barely enjoy your day-to-day.

    As many in the FI/RE community say: Build the life you want. Then save for it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Dividend Power

    The 70% and 80% savings rate that some people talk about is only really feasible for those who are single without families and mortgages and living somewhat ‘different’ lives. Arguably, some of these people are even living eccentric lives. In reality, a 20% savings rate is pretty good for most families of four.

    1. J

      I couldn’t agree more. If you go through looking at the relatively normal families, they come out below 50% nearly every time

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