From the way we work to the way we interact with one another, the new normal brought a lot of changes in our lives. COVID-19 affected everyone, whether infected or not. Everyone was forced to give a hard look at how they live their lives, finances and all.
And as someone who has been stuck at home for over five months, I saw first-hand how my perspective on money changed each day. Here are the money lessons I’ve learned so far during this seemingly endless quarantine period.
New Normal Money Lessons I Learned
Why Saving Money Matters
If I had a nickel for every money-saving tip I’ve learned over the years, I would probably live comfortably by now. It’s hard to motivate myself to save when my paycheck arrives, telling me that I’m now slightly richer than my yesterday self. But during this pandemic, I’ve grown to appreciate the art of saving money and why everyone should develop this skill.
For one thing, the amount of money I saved gives me assurance that I won’t go broke anytime soon, even if there’s an emergency. Just like debt but in a good way, your savings slowly pile up as long as you’re consistent with it. Saving money has never been more important today where things are uncertain and unpredictable. Don’t let COVID-19 catch you off guard.
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Cash Still Has Value
Thanks to being stuck at home, it’s been weeks since I withdrew money from an ATM. I thought I was going to be okay since I can rely on online services for my essentials. It was too late when I realized not every essential can be bought from these services. Sometimes, you still need to go out and buy stuff from your nearest sari-sari store using good ol’ cash and coins.
In fact, it’s a lot cheaper to buy goods from your suki stores or mobile palengkes than to pay delivery fees for things you can easily get from those stores. Now that I’ve learned my lesson, I’ll make it a habit to prepare some spare cash in every cutoff. Going cashless may be the future, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon the conventional ways of trade.
Don’t Trust Your Impulse
If you’re like me, you’ve resorted to comfort eating as your form of coping mechanism. I won’t judge you—eating mini cinnamon rolls really does the trick. And before you know it, you’re spending all your paycheck buying cinnamon roll boxes every single day. Don’t let your impulse drive all of your financial decisions. It can’t think far enough in the future.
What helps curb the urge to shop, you ask? Being positive. Focusing my perspective to the people and things in my life made it easier to resist splurging away. By appreciating everything you already have, you’re replacing the urge to spend with love, passion, and other positive emotions your support system brings you. Appreciate your life in its entirety.
Read more: Bad Financial Habits to Get Rid Of in the New Normal
Invest in Yourself
In all this talk of saving money, there’s one thing you shouldn’t forget: investing in yourself. While it’s still advisable not to splurge, there should be a balance between the two seemingly contradicting concepts. There should be more ways than one to spend for your personal growth without leaving your bank account bone-dry. Every small comfort matters.
I learned this the hard way a couple of weeks ago when we bought a proper table for our work-from-home setup. The comfort of working with more space made me more productive and inspired me to buy more essentials to add to my workstation. You shouldn’t feel guilty for spending on something that will make your life even an inch better.
Why You Need to Go Local
Have you ever thought about how other people are coping with the pandemic? This is one thought that came to mind after months of being locked down. Companies are more than likely to survive while local businesses are hanging by a thread. As a way to help others, I started checking local businesses on social media to see what’s on store.
More often than not, the goods they’re selling are cheaper and more accessible. The sellers are even friendlier since they’re the ones preparing the product most of the time. You’ll discover a whole new marketplace when you search for them on social media. Check out your neighbors as well because they might be setting up a business of their own.
Despite the hardships and inconveniences that the relentless pandemic brought us, I’m still glad I learned a thing or two from it. Whether these things are also useful to you is something for you to decide, but I believe we can always learn from anything good or bad. Let’s all keep learning as we stay safely indoors and help flatten the curve.
This article first appeared on The Manila Times.
-  Pasig launches ‘Mobile Palengke’ to lessen public markets trips (Gotinga, Rappler, 2020)
-  What You Can Shop to Support Small Filipino Brands (Sanchez, Spot.ph, 2020)
- All GIFs taken from Giphy.com