Adjusting Spending When Our Financial Situation Changes

Written by Annastasia Liu

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

For many families, mine included, this year has had some financial ups and downs. Even before the onset of COVID-19, my husband, who is an Ontario teacher, was on strike and earning a decreased income.

While it hasn't been easy to adapt to the changes, we're learning how to make better decisions with our money as we go through these different financial situations. Here are some things that are working for us.

How We Adjust Our Spending

  1. Find Ways to Treat Ourselves That Don't Affect Our Wallet

Being glued to my screens lately has made it very tempting to indulge in some online purchases. Instead of spending my money on special things for myself, I make sure to use gift cards, rewards programs and points I already have.

I also give myself a "cooling off" period before making a purchase. I put some items in my virtual cart and take a few days to decide if they're things I really want.

Some ways I've been able to treat myself that are free or inexpensive are: making a DIY body butter with ingredients I have at home (great for dry hands from all that hand-washing), reading eBooks from my local library and recreating some of my favourite restaurant meals at home.

  1. Avoid Fear or Stress Purchases

In reaction to the shortages on a lot of common food and household items, as well as dealing with overall stress, I was finding myself buying things unnecessarily, from toiletries to junk food.

What's helped us avoid making irrational purchases and buying things we don't need is doing a weekly inventory and meal planning. We'll take a look at what's in our freezer and pantry first, and figure out what meals we can make with those ingredients. We then make a list of items we need and stick to that list as much as we can when we go shopping, which has helped curb our impulse buying.

  1. Keep Saving as Much as We Can

Even though times are changing, we still have savings goals we're trying to reach. I'm a goal-oriented saver so typically if my goal is taken away, like a potential summer vacation, I lose some motivation.

During this time, I've found it most useful to change my perspective to stay motivated. Postponing a goal doesn't mean it's off the table completely. Although we might have to dip into our emergency fund in the coming months, we know we'll also have more time to build our savings back up at a later date. For now, I'll use any potential future savings to top up my emergency fund.

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