Life after lockdown: 5 tips to make your money go further
It was a case of on your masks, get set and go last week as lockdown restrictions were eased in England.
Diners and drinkers starved of going out in recent months are embracing freedom once again as the nation continues to adjust to life with coronavirus.
Such is the excitement for a return to a sense of the normality we once knew, Brits are expected to splurge £50 billion in post-lockdown spending according to new figures.
A study by Scottish Friendly and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) shows households plan to spend more than a quarter (26%) of their lockdown savings – totalling £50 billion collectively.
With eating out and holidays abroad topping the list of future spending plans, budgets across the UK are going to be firmly in focus in the coming months.
So just how can you make the most of the easing of restrictions without your bank balance edging into the red?
Here we offer five tips to help you make the most of both your freedom and finances in the coming weeks.
1. Budget first, socialise and shop later
There’s no escaping the excitement as bars, restaurants and shops lift their shutters for the first time in months.
However, before you splash the cash on a new outfit for your first social soiree it’s important to check in on your budget.
After months of not having anywhere to go, it’s natural that there will be an urge to relax spending habits, but it’s important to take stock of your financial situation before doing so.
Take a moment to review your budget and how your current financial circumstances will fit into life after lockdown.
Are you set to return to work in the coming weeks and have travel costs to consider for the first time in a while? Has the time come to start thinking about childcare costs again?
No matter what your situation, it’s important to review your situation and make sure you have your spending planned for household and travel costs as well as any other financial commitments.
As restrictions are lifted your budget is likely to change from month to month. It’s important to check it regularly to make sure that you don’t need to call last orders on your post-lockdown social life sooner than you’d like.
Not sure where to begin with your budget? Check out our handy budget calculator here.
2. Prioritise your social calendar and your expenses
After a long winter without social interaction the last thing anyone wants to do is miss out on any of the action now lockdown is being lifted.
However, amidst the excitement, it’s important to take a moment to organise your social calendar to make sure it fits into your budget.
Don’t cram your socialising into the space of a week.
Like a fine wine, savour the moment and spread your socialising and your spending over the course of the month.
If you have a Sunday lunch organised with your family one weekend, it might be best to hang off on a trip to the pub with pals and a visit to the hairdresser for another weekend.
It’s natural to want to do it all but let’s be honest, we can’t do it all at once.
Finding your social and financial balance is important to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
3. Keep on top of payment dates
With people across the country turning to payment breaks to get by during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important not to forget that these are short-term solutions that are coming to an end.
As payments begin again, it’s vital to be prepared.
Check in with your lenders and make sure you are aware of when your repayments are due and double-check the amount.
Are your payments going to increase? Has the repayment term been extended? This is important information that will impact your weekly or monthly budget.
If you’re worried about covering the cost of what you owe, it’s important to seek advice as soon as possible.
4. Save a little and often
Almost half of Brits (46%) have seen their cash savings increase during the pandemic, according to the Scottish Friendly and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) survey.
In fact, the data shows that collectively people have saved an estimated £192 million.
While not everyone has been fortunate to be able to save during the pandemic, it’s always good practice to try and save a little and often.
Automating your savings can be a simple way to keep squirrelling money away without any hassle.
Include savings in your monthly budget and set up a standing order to transfer that amount to a savings account the day after you get paid.
Out of sight, out of mind is the best way to think about the money you save and means that you can better budget for the rest of the month.
Apps such as Plum and Moneybox can also be useful as they automate saving by saving small amounts every few days.
Unsure about how much to save each month? Check out our guide to the 50/30/20 budget which makes saving simple here.
5. Keep calm and carry on
As the nights grow lighter and the weather warmer everything is beginning to seem a little brighter.
Who’d have thought just over a year ago that we’d find ourselves unable to enjoy even the simplest of pleasures like popping to the shops or for a pint after a long day at the office?
As restrictions ease slowly there’s a real sense of gratitude for things that many of us took for granted before.
The last year has been a time to reflect on what we value and what matters to us the most and as things begin to open again it’s important not to lose sight of that and spend consciously.
Whether it’s continuing to cut out the coffee you normally pick up on the way to work or ditching your gym membership in favour of working out at home, it’s useful not to give up on some of our favourite lockdown savings.
Of course, we need to get out and grab life with both hands with those who matter most but keeping our budget in mind as we’re doing so promises to keep life after lockdown out of the red.