Financial Lessons COVID-19 Taught Me
Let’s talk about money! Love it or hate it but now is really the time to talk about finances. Unless you’re not professionals in finance, I bet that every one of us could do better. Doing better in terms of how we spend, save and invest in money. However, the problem with finances is that it’s always easier said than done. In times of a crisis, a lot of our money habits come to the surface. Nowadays, as we all deal with the COVID-19 turmoil, I’m learning a few things about my money management and spending habits. Here are five financial lessons COVID-19 taught me.
MINIMAL ESSENTIAL EXPENSES
If you had asked me what my essential expenses would be before the corona crisis happened, I would have given you an endless list. Of course, all my fixed costs are mandatory. Fixed costs are such as rent and utility costs as well as groceries. However, on that list would have also been way more additional costs. I would have also taken into consideration my food takeouts, daily Starbucks, beauty treatments, Uber costs and even impulsive shopping buys.
If we didn’t go through a crisis right now, I probably wouldn’t have recognised that I actually don’t need my additional costs. I remember that at the beginning of quarantine life, I was joking with friends that I haven’t bought an overpriced Starbucks drink for two weeks, and I feel my sanity slipping. Three months later, I haven’t had any Starbucks either, and here I am. Still alive – wow! Besides, all my other additional essential costs decreased significantly as well, because I was only at home. So thanks to COVID-19’s financial lessons, my spending habits shifted a lot, and I could save a lot of money through the last months.
HAVE A FINANCIAL OVERVIEW
In times of uncertainty, it is even more critical to have a clear overview of your finances. I admit that I do not always know the exact amount of how much my impulsive expenses are. However, I do still know into which category the money flows. Whether it is shopping, beauty stuff, going out for food or my Uber costs.
For all my bank accounts, I use online banking, and I check the apps frequently, when not even daily. Hence, it was effortless for me to jump into the accounts for checking where I can reduce more costs since the COVID-19 crisis started. In general, if you already have an overview of your finances, you can bounce back faster when a crisis and uncertainty hits you.
EMERGENCY FUNDS ARE NECESSARY
It is no secret that everyone should have an emergency fund for at least three months. That’s the most critical and essential rule when it comes to financial management. Unfortunately, I did not always take that rule so severe because of my impulsive shopping behaviour. Besides, even though I experienced COVID-19 right from the beginning in China, I would have never expected that the coronavirus would turn into a global pandemic. A global pandemic which will be followed by an economy and financial crisis. Oh, hell no.
When the coronavirus started here in Germany, I got struck by financial problems. I remember I was sitting at home and crying my eyes out because of rent problems. The room in Shanghai still belongs to me, and paying an apartment plus another room without income is really no joke. Additionally, my parents got into a few struggles, as well, and I was really anxious. In the end, my parents helped me out, and I found several ways to make an income during the last months.
However, I really learned my financial lessons! Looking back, the shocking moment was necessary for me to overthink my money management. Therefore, since March 2020, I do not spend every dime I have anymore. Instead, I save each month a little bit for getting my mind at ease.
INVEST IN THE RIGHT THINGS
I always defended spending habits from other people or me with subjectivity. By that, I mean that everyone has different needs and wants. So, it is entirely okay to spend money on things other people wouldn’t do vice versa. Since my apartment is only on a rent basis, I never saw the necessity of investing a lot of money in high-quality future. Especially since I have lived abroad a lot and never really spend a lot of times at home.
However, since COVID-19 and quarantine life, I was forced to stay at home all the time. In March, I just came back from Asia and went to my parents first before the lockdown orders applied. Hence, I am living at my parent’s place since then. (Btw, here is why everyone should move away in their 20s at least once!) Luckily, the interior in my old room is good and cosy. The only problem is that I don’t have my own table anymore and sometimes it’s a bit inconvenient. By staying home this much, it made me realise that it is vital to have a lovely home. Therefore, even though you’re maybe not often at home and still very young, do invest in your home! Having a beautiful home, whether it is rent or owned, can brighten up your day. A beautiful kitchen will motivate you to cook, and with a cosy bathroom, you can have your spa day at home. All these little things lead to saving money and still having the opportunity to enjoy it all.
IF IT HELPS YOU, TREAT YOURSELF
Now, I know that the biggest COVID-19 financial lessons are to save money and not to waste it. Mainly because the economy and financial crisis are just at the beginning and didn’t even really started yet. However, during the last few months, I also learned that if it keeps your mind at ease, invest in it.
If you feel like in the mood for movies and tv shows, subscribe to a streaming service. (These are the best tv shows to watch right now!) You are artsier and want to be creative? Buy yourself art supplies. I bought myself a few colour pencils and printed out some colouring papers. You are surprised how calming it is to colour. A lot of my friends, including me, bought puzzles. A puzzle maybe sounds boring at first. However, it will not only bring your mind at ease, but it also encourages your logical skills and creativity. My mum bought herself more baking supplies for expanding her skills while some friends of mine invested in online study courses.
So whatever will make you happy and will help to prevent you from getting anxiety, invest in it! Because, at the end of the day, the most important thing during an uncertain crisis is to have a peaceful mind to get through it.