COVID-19 has had a tremendous effect on the budgets of Canadians. With millions unemployed, and the start of programs like CERB, Canadians everywhere are having to take a second look at their budgets. My family has been fortunate in that the nature of our jobs allow us to easily work from home. Despite this, we have still experienced a lot of changes to our budget – some positive and some negative.
In this article I share our COVID budget, or at least what’s become of our budget since the start of the COVID-19 shutdowns. Each of the dollar values listed below are monthly averages that have been rounded to the nearest $5. The “Before COVID” numbers are from January and February of this year. The “After COVID” numbers are from April, May, and June.
Our spending has decreased a ton since the start of COVID. This isn’t intentional. Most of these decreases come from the fact that we simply can’t do things – like eating out with family and friends. Having just purchased our home last year, we’re still spending a lot on furniture and décor. This spending has really slowed down because visiting furniture stores and having items delivered has become difficult. Spending on clothing has similarly decreased as we don’t yet feel comfortable going to the big malls in our area. Also, who needs new clothes when you’re working from home?
Our savings on gas and transit have been the most exceptional. Across April, May, and June I only filled up my gas tank twice. Since the COVID shutdowns began we also haven’t paid anything for transit. This is all because my wife and I have been able to work from home since the start of the shutdowns. The savings from not having to commute everyday have really added up. We’ve saved a little over $1,000 on these items alone since we transitioned to working from home in March. Overall, due to COVID, we’ve reduced our spending by $2,130 since April 1st.
More of the Same
There are a few items in our budget that have stayed the same. Alcohol spending, something of great importance, has remained unchanged by COVID. This is mainly because my drinking habits have changed. Instead of meeting up with friends for a beer, I’m having a beer at home with my wife. Our “Eating Together” budget has similarly changed. Instead of eating at a restaurant, we’re ordering takeout and eating at home. The only item listed below that I’m really surprised about is our grocery budget. Even though we’re eating at home a lot more we’re somehow managing to spend the same amount on groceries. My guess is that we’re “treating ourselves” less when grocery shopping and just sticking to the essentials.
Now, the picture isn’t all rosy. Because of the coming recession, my wife and I have both taken hits to our income this year. Mainly in the form of lost raises and foregone bonuses. I typically earn a raise of a few thousand dollars per year on top of a similarly sized bonus. This year I expect my raise and bonus to be consistent with the market – zero. My wife also expects to miss out on a raise this year. That’s not all bad, given that our spending has decreased, but it does potentially slow down our career progression.
COVID Budget: Missed Opportunities
There are a few items that I wish I saved money on but haven’t. For example, my car insurance. I’m barely driving and yet I’m still paying about $190 per month for full car insurance. Another item is my mortgage. Even though rates have dropped significantly, I’m still locked into my current fixed rate. In future articles I’ll explore how I succeeded or failed in saving money on these expenses.
Until then, let us know how your budget changed due to COVID. Are you saving more? Spending more? I’d love to hear your story.
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You might be interested in some of my other recent posts about COVID, including “CERB Fraud: Can It Land You in Jail?“.