Mask mandates are going away and restaurants are opening again. Finally, life is going back to normal! Here are some forward-thinking money moves to make as you adjust to post-pandemic life.
Review and adjust your budget
Pandemic budget rules were unique, as people cut down on costs, like dining out and updating work wardrobes, but spent more on things like at-home entertainment. Others may have had to adjust their spending to help them coast during a stint of unemployment. The pandemic may have also shifted something in people’s mental list of needs and wants, as they found they can live with a lot less than they’d thought.
As you adjust to post-pandemic life, take some time to review and tweak your monthly budget. Be sure to incorporate any changes in income, as well as a readjustment to pre-pandemic spending or changed priorities.
Rebuild your savings
If you are one of the many Americans who were forced to dip into savings, or even to fully drain them, during the pandemic, create a plan to get your savings back on track. Tighten your spending in one area until you’ve built up an emergency fund that can keep you going for 3-6 months without an income, or use a windfall, such as a work bonus or tax refund, to get the bulk of your emergency fund in place.
Once your emergency fund is up and running again, continue to practice basic saving habits, such as setting aside 20% of your monthly income for savings, or whichever approach you prefer.
Rethink your long-term and short-term financial goals
The pandemic has prompted lots of people to reevaluate their goals. Take some time to rethink your long-term and short-term financial goals, then adjust your savings and budget accordingly.
As you move through this step, be sure to consider any long-term goals you may have put on hold during the pandemic. Have you stalled your contributions to your retirement accounts? Have you been making only the minimum payments on your credit cards? If any of these apply to you, be sure to revert your savings and debt payments back to pre-pandemic levels as soon as you can.
Spend with caution
It’s perfectly fine to enjoy a shopping spree in celebration of a return to pre-pandemic norms, but spend with caution.
First, prepare to encounter inflated prices wherever you go. Gas prices have jumped, and the cost of many consumer goods has spiked. If you plan on purchasing a big-ticket item like a new car, consider waiting until prices cool off.
Also, you may be eager to make up for lost time, but no number of nights out on the town will bring back the months you spent at home. To avoid irrational overspending, set up a budget before you hit the shops and only spend what you’ve planned.