Time, Money & COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed our lives as we know it. Only the conspiracy theorists could have seen this coming. Many people have had their worlds turned upside down and have been laid off from their jobs. Thankfully, our government seems to be coming to the party and making it manageable for Australian families to keep going.

For those of us still working, we’re most likely doing it from home. If you’re like me than you probably thought, what a treat! I’ve always wanted to work from home. Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long, and the adjustment was harder than I imagined. While this is a difficult time, I think there are few things we can learn from COVID-19 about our habits.

Were you wasting your time?

Do you suddenly have so much time on your hands? The days seem longer when you don’t have anywhere to go but how much time have you really gained? Before I was forced into isolation, I did a lot but, I wasn’t completely run off my feet. Your schedule might normally be completely packed and you barely have time to take off your shoes before getting into bed, but I’m guessing that’s not the case for most of us.

I think so many of us fall into the habit of telling ourselves that we’re ‘so busy’ that we believe it no matter what. Right now is the perfect time to assess how you spend your time. I saw something the other day that said “If you don’t come out of isolation with a new skill or your side hustle started then it wasn’t time you lacked; it was discipline.”

Maybe you were overspending

My biggest weakness is buying food. Some people have loads of shoes or dresses; I eat out all the time. One thing that being in isolation has taught me is how much money I was wasting. It’s easy to fall into the habit of buying a coffee a few times a week, buying lunch or even just picking up a few things at the shops every day. Right now, we are being faced with the harsh reality that none of it is necessary. Mum was right, there really is food at home.

Coming out of this, I think we’re all going to look at our impulsive buying habits a little differently. I think this is the kick that some of us really needed to look at our spending and saving without rose coloured glasses on. This is the perfect time to reassess your budget. Think seriously about how you allocate your money and if it isn’t important now, maybe it never was.

Go back to basics

One thing this pandemic is teaching us is that we need to learn to make do with what we’ve got. We don’t need to go to the shops every day when we have a freezer full of food. We don’t need to buy a box cake mix when we have flour, eggs and sugar in the cupboard. Often we find it so easy to opt for what we think is easier or faster, that we spend money we don’t have, and we miss moments we can’t get back.

We have an opportunity right now to put value back into the little things in life. Instead of opting for the package foods, take the time to make things from scratch. Everything will taste better; you’ll feel better and you can use this as an opportunity to do something with your kids or partner. We need to stop telling ourselves that these it’s more expensive or it takes too much time. Trying to make pasta sauce from scratch with three kids under five might be difficult but they will appreciate it so much more than you can imagine.

You don’t have to spend money to have fun

I don’t think a lot of us have used our imagination like this since we were in primary school. While half the population are complaining about being bored, the other half are finding new ways to entertain themselves and their families every day. I think we get so focused on what we’re going to do or where we’re going to go, that we forget how simple it can be. Children are the best example of this. Remember when you were young and you found ways to entertain yourself without the need for going out or having a computer at your fingertips?

By the time this storm has passed, I think most of us will be accustomed to our new way of life and we’ll find great joy in the little things. Whether it’s doing a jigsaw puzzle, playing boardgames or learning a new skill. For many of us we needed this to show us we don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars every weekend to have a good time.

You don’t have to try so hard to see your friends

How many times have you said to yourself ‘yeah I really need to catch up with them’ but you don’t do it because life gets in the way and you’re too busy? I think we forget that catching up is as easy as picking up the phone. Everyone feels so disconnected right now that we’re finally trying to reconnect with the people we love.

People are checking up on each other now more than ever and it’s sad that it took a global pandemic for people to check in on their friends. Let’s not make this something we just do during COVID-19. Let’s remain connected when this is all over. Call your friends when you’re bored. FaceTime someone you haven’t seen in a while. Stop making catching up seem like a chore and take time for yourself and the people you love.

I don’t think anyone is going to come out of this pandemic the same person they went in. Our lives are changed as we know it, but hopefully they change for the better. There’s no denying this is difficult and if you don’t have a newfound urge to do everything you’ve been putting off, that’s okay. But I think we can all learn to appreciate our lives a little more. To appreciate each other, to make time for each other and to stop being so wasteful.

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