Living on a Limited Budget
With businesses closed across the nation, the American economy has come to a standstill. The fortunate ones have been able to work from home, but laborers in other industries have been out of work for over a month. Without a steady influx of money, you need to tighten your budget to stretch your resources. Here are a few ways how home quarantine changed my budget allocation.
The Biggest Changes in My Budget Allocation
Television and internet have provided the lion’s share of entertainment outlets for people during home quarantine. Since most of us already account for this in our monthly expenditures, there are no additional costs. However, I have also turned to other pursuits that cut screen time and cost no money. Rather than zoning out in front of my phone, I have spent more time reading and drawing. Since the library near me has few English books, I have been using free websites like Project Gutenberg to find free reading material. I have also subscribed to free podcasts and audiobooks to pass the time.
The silver lining in this situation is that I am spending significantly less each month for entertainment. The money I would have spent on going out to dinner and drinks is now money in my pocket. These small costs accumulate quickly and eat away at your monthly budget more than you realize.
I’ll admit that I spent more money than I should have when lockdowns were being announced. I prepared my home with enough supplies to withstand 60 days of home quarantine. I expected to be cooking more instead of relying on delivery services and restaurants to feed me. Unfortunately, my monthly spending for these apps has skyrocketed.
Here in Taiwan, it is actually cheaper to buy food than to cook it and prepare it at home. I usually order through Uber Eats at least 3 times a week. Now that many restaurants are closed or offering limited availability, it has become a daily habit. I justify this to myself with the excuse that I am still saving more money each month in other areas. However, if current conditions stretch on, I will definitely be spending more time on my meal prep.
The most drastic change in my monthly budget allocation has been my electricity bill. Now that we are spending more hours each day in the house, we are using more energy. This did not cause a significant rise during the winter months which were exceptionally mild this year. However, that is about to change as summer encroaches.
Now that temperatures are reaching the 90s with high humidity, I’ll be parking myself in front of the air conditioning in the heat of the afternoon. Energy output grows even higher with more people in the house. I have implemented small energy saving habits in my daily routine, but there is no way to avoid the increased usage. What was once a small part of my monthly cost of living has now become a major component of my budget allocation.
In the current climate, we all have to accept that there is no longer a sense of normal. We have to change our spending habits and lifestyles. No one can say for certain how long conditions will endure, you should take a hard look at your financial situation. A few minor adjustments could help situate you through the uncertainty ahead.
- How to Budget Shop Like a Pro
- How To Create A Household Budget and Stick To It
- Making Ends Meet: 10 Money-Saving Strategies for Living on a Budget
Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.
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