QUARANTINE FINANCES

April was the first full month of the quarantine for me, where I mostly stayed home for an entire cycle of bills. I was curious to see if my spending would be less given that I didn’t go out to any restaurants, couldn’t do much shopping outside of groceries, and in general wasn’t able to partake in commerce in a traditional sense.

As it is now May, I am now able to see how I spent my money for April. The easiest indicators to look at at my credit card bills. I basically use two different credit cards. Both are reward cards, one I use for restaurants, fast food, and recurring monthly bills. The other I use for groceries and anything else I need to buy that doesn’t fit the categories I’ve already mentioned. The first card usually hovers above $1,000 month, it’s usually not less than that. The second card can vary, depending on if I get a bit adventurous with online shopping or if general, I just wind up buying more stuff that month. I’ve had some months where that card comes in below $1,000, eg. $800 but some months it’s above $1,000. For simplicity sake, let’s say both cards average around $1,000 a month.

For April, the first card came to $292 worth of charges. The second card tallied up to $700 for the month. I saved a considerable amount of money this month, most of it coming from the lack of buying on the first card. The bulk of my savings came from not going out to eat or buying food to go. I last sat at a table in a restaurant in the first week of March. That card is also the one I use to pay for my overpriced lunches at work. Conservatively, I probably spend $50 a week on food at work, so that’s about $200 saved there alone. I also didn’t have to pay for a transit pass, so that’s about $100 saved too.

Now spending on the second card was down too but not as much as the first. There’s a few reasons for that. First, my grocery bills went up compared to a regular month, so that offset some of the savings. Still, I came out ahead. It’s not out of the ordinary for me to spend $50 at dinner sometimes, whereas $50 at Safeway this month allows me to eat almost the entire week. It’s a shame it took a global pandemic to show me the stark reality of the math but it’s true. You save so much money by eating at home. My savings would have been more had I not bought a new monitor this month. EA is reimbursing employees for “work at home” expenses and monitors were included in those expenses. I bought a really nice gaming monitor where EA chipped in $290 and my portion was about $300. Had I not bought that monitor (which was a great deal because of EA’s partial reimbursement), I would have only spent $400 with my second credit card.

This global pandemic has allowed many new perspectives to be gained and I certainly have been surprised by what I see here. At least for me, it appears that I can save an incredible amount of money by essentially eating all my meals at home, limiting your buying to mainly just groceries, not driving or taking transit, and spending all your time at home. Imagine how much money I could save if I did this every single month for at least a year. Now, you could ask the question of how enjoyable would life be if I lived the quarantine life year around, even in non-pandemic times. Well yeah, it probably suck after a two months. Some things, like not driving or taking transit, probably isn’t practical. So, maybe the answer is everything in moderation, like only allowing myself to get takeout or going to a restaurant once a month.

Whenever we get back to whatever semblance of normal existence we will have, I think I’ll need to examine what aspects of quarantine life I can still bring forward with me, even in moderated doses, to help me save money.

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