Although 2020 may not look the way we expected it to, I like to think of this moment in time as an opportunity I may never get again. I have more time available to me than I ever have before. Along with less expenses than I’ve ever had since it’s still not as easy to blow through all my cash in a Starbucks every morning before work or going out with friends every weekend. This newfound time has given me a lot of time to reflect on how I’ve been living my life before the pandemic and what I’d like to change. Though our lives feel like they’ve been put on permanent hold, the reality is that life has not stopped for anyone and we have the chance to set ourselves up for success even if this is our new normal. Here are some things I believe will make a big difference in your life if you aren’t already doing them.
There’s nothing quite like a global pandemic to make you question if you’re being responsible with your finances. For some, every penny ( or nickel, here in Canada) counts right now and the farther we can stretch it, the better. We don’t know how long this recession is going to last which makes everything very unpredictable. What I have found useful is to write down everything I spend in a month and audit the purchases I genuinely needed and the ones that really weren’t all that necessary. I found that I had a lot of monthly subscriptions that weren’t important for the current time such as Netflix (I haven’t opened the app in months!). Make sure you are going through your subscriptions regularly as sometimes we can forget all the things we’ve signed up for. This also helps evaluate if you really want to continue these subscriptions especially if you haven’t been using them. Another thing that has helped me save money is each week when I go grocery shopping I go with a pre-made list and I only buy the things on the list. Now of course if I discover I forgot to write down an integral ingredient for the dinner I have planned I’m obviously going to buy it, but I won’t browse the snack aisle tossing in a bunch of garbage that I don’t need and won’t do me any favours in the long run.
Creating a budget
What are your absolute necessities during the month? You want to make sure you’re aware of just how much you’ll need to spend on food and utilities as well as other expenses like prescriptions. These are things you cannot afford to go without and you need to meet these requirements before you allow yourself to spend on extras like take-out and shopping. Here’s a video I really enjoyed about the importance of budgets and how to make a successful one from The Minimalists. For a long time I thought making budgets was for business owners and penny-pinchers but this has truly been a life saver!
Have you been meaning to learn how to paint? or pick up your old guitar again? Now’s the perfect time to start investing in something you’ve always wanted to try. They say you need to spend 10,000 hours on a given activity before you’re considered an expert, but let’s start off with 15 minutes per day. When you commit to doing something for a small amount of time it seems far less impossible and you may find you tend to spend even longer than those 15 minutes if you really get into the zone. This is when you’ve entered the state of “flow” which has been linked to increased feelings of happiness and fulfillment. If you don’t already have a hobby, what’s something you wish you had learned to do? If you’ve always wished you had taken drum lessons, now’s the time! Remember, the point of having a hobby is not to be good at it right away, but to enjoy the process of getting better at it over time.
Kicking bad habits
Have you been meaning to spend less time on the internet? or quit smoking? how about sleeping in less? We can afford to get experimental with our routines right now and try out different suggestions to see what works best. I’ve been experimenting with what time is the most ideal for me to wake up in the morning as well as trying to consume less caffeine throughout the day. Though quitting any sort of addiction is hard and can be really unpleasant, you’ll thank yourself in the long run for prioritizing your health, be it physical or mental. Find a good video or article about the bad habit you want to kick and commit to it! you’ve got this!
What are some new habits you’re trying to implement? are you trying to drink less caffeine like I am? Let me know in the comments!