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Lockdown learning: Working out your ‘new normal’ priorities

Synopsis:

As restrictions ease, we’ve been looking at how you can use the skills, habits and attitudes you’ve learnt during lockdown to fully embrace the ‘new normal’.

Lockdown learnings: Working out your ‘new normal’ priorities

You might have learnt a new skill. You might have learnt a load of new recipes. But one thing’s for sure, we’ve all learnt a lot about ourselves during lockdown.

It’s shifted our focus, made us re-evaluate the things that are most important to us, and made us think about whether we’ll continue with our old habits ‘once this is all over’. Here are six of the big questions facing the nation as we all try to work out our ‘new normal’ priorities…

1. Time vs money

There’s always been a trade-off between time and money. Is it worth taking 4 hours to groom the dog yourself? Or is it worth paying £40 to take them to the local pooch parlour?

As things start to get busy again, now is a great time to take a step back and consider the balance between your time and money. There are some things that you may have simply found it’s worth paying every penny for (DIY haircuts not quite turning out how you imagined?). However, there may be some things that used to be essential payments, that you’ve now realised are really conveniences in disguise. 

2. There’s actually room in the budget for more than you think.. 

Whilst you’ve been spending more time at home during lockdown, you may have noticed your bank balance looking a little healthier than it did before, which may surprise you. Like many, you might have thought that you couldn’t find any room in your budget for extras, but take away the haircuts, the eating out, the gym membership and the commute, and suddenly there’s still money left at the end of the month.

Top tip: Understanding your household budget can be really useful, even if it’s a quick calculation. Why not use a budgeting tool, and do one version of your expenses pre-lockdown, and a second with your finances as they are now. This way, you’ll be able to see what things you’re no longer spending money on, and then have a clear list to decide which things are actually essential vs those little luxuries. 

3. My ‘Emergency Fund’ just isn’t enough

It can take a major life event to make us step back and take stock, and it doesn’t get much more major than a global pandemic. It has made a lot of us think about whether we had the emergency fund we‘d need to keep us covered should the worst have happened. There’s no better time than now to start looking at how you could squirrel away some funds for unexpected future events – it will help you feel more confident about your finances moving forward.

Top Tip: Automating your savings can be a great way to build a savings pot and best of all, you don’t even have to think about it: you can simply set up a standing order so that the money leaves your account on payday. 

4. But I need it… I think? 

When the only option was shopping online and having to wait weeks for something to be delivered, the item didn’t quite have the same appeal. 

Subject to much debate, it has been suggested it takes around 66 days to break a habit. With many of us having been in lockdown since 23 March, our shopping habits have likely been affected, so it’s a great time to think about what you used to do and what you want to do moving forward.

Many of us may be questioning why we used to spend our Saturdays pottering around the shops, or are starting to realise that  those spending sprees often reflected how we were feeling and that little shopping ‘pick me up’ is something a lot of us had gotten into the habit of doing.  Taking some time to actively think about your shopping habits is a positive first step towards improving your relationship with your money post-lockdown.

If you’ve found your enjoyment and satisfaction shifting from buying expensive treats, to things you can do at home, it certainly something to celebrate and make steps to keep up long after lockdown ends.

Top tip: Actively thinking about your spending decisions takes practice, but can reap great rewards in helping you take more control of your money. So next time you’re feeling the need to have a splurge, ask yourself if you can afford it, if you really need it, and what that money could buy instead.

5. Staycation vs vacation

Having been at home for months on end, we’ve learnt that getting away from it all is high up on lots of people’s agenda. But the question is: Has coronavirus changed your attitude to travel for good? Will you be hopping on a plane and jetting off abroad when you get the chance? Or packing the car for a best of British roadtrip?

Guaranteed sunshine might be appealing but with no telling when the travel uncertainty might end, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get your money back if your long-awaited trip’s cancelled at the last minute. 

Top tip: Have a think about why it is you want to head off on holiday. Is it for the sunshine? the new cuisine? or maybe even the excursions? Once you know what you would want to do, check the restrictions for where you’re looking to go as you may find that the things you enjoy most are just not happening right now and could help in your decision making.

6. Old habits don’t have to die hard

Lockdown’s given us all an opportunity to pause and think about the things we normally do, and the things we value. It’s given us the chance to question why we wouldn’t usually think twice about spending £100 on a new outfit to make ourselves feel good, why we like going ‘out-out’ to celebrate pay day, or why we choose to go to a new restaurant every other week because it’s a fun thing to do with friends.

It’s completely up to you what you decide to take forward from your lockdown experience, but as restrictions ease, now’s the perfect time to switch things up, leave some ‘old habits’ behind, and create a new mindset so you can embrace the ‘new normal’. 

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