The news, social media and likely your phone calls with friends lately have been filled with doom and gloom.  COVID-19 has changed our lives. For many people, the changes have not been welcome or enjoyable and are far from over.  There will be repercussions from this pandemic that will shape our society for years to come but not all the changes we will see are necessarily bad.  We need to take time to focus on the positive things that have come out of this somber period.

Living on Less and Saving More

Between stay-at-home orders, store closings and shipping delays, spending money is not nearly as easy as it used to be. Not being able to browse stores on a Saturday removes the temptation to spend money on things you don’t need. Many people are eager to get in and out of stores as quickly as possible to get what they need to avoid exposure to the virus or having to wear their mask for too long. The decreased opportunity to spend has shown us that we can survive on much less than we were buying before. The pandemic has also inspired people to invest in items that save money in the long run, such as a bidet to replace toilet paper or DIY disinfectant and sanitizing products. If you are living on a budget, it is easy to see the difference between your spending habits in January versus July and many of us are shocked by the difference.  Remember to take all the money you’re saving by spending less and put it in a high interest savings account to build your emergency fund!

Getting to Know our Family Members

This pandemic has changed the way we eat meals, work, and spend our weekends. The past five months may be the most time you have ever spent with your spouse or children – or both! Sometimes, all the togetherness can be overwhelming, but it can also be a blessing*.  In a society where both parents work to make ends meet, maternity/paternity leave time is generally 12 weeks or less and busy schedules preclude quality time with family members. The pandemic has slowed things down dramatically and has driven many people to work from home. This crazy time may be the only chance we get to bond so closely with our immediate family. Even on the hardest days, try to remember that this time can be special and memorable, especially if you have high school aged children that might not live at home for much longer.

Finding New Hobbies to Fill the Time

After about three weeks on stay-at-home orders, every day starts to feel the same as the next.  Around this time is when social media news feeds started filling up with pictures of people taking up a new skill at home. Some people learned a new craft like sewing and face mask making. Some started gardening, keeping backyard chickens, beekeeping or carpentry. Many of these new hobbies are actually essential life skills that can save you money in the future. We learned that if we have more time at home, we can use it to become self-reliant and perhaps more sustainable.

While this pandemic has turned our lives upside down, the changes have not all been bad.  When you are feeling overwhelmed with worry about your income, the future of schools or missing your friends and family, take a few moments to write down the positive things in your life.  We must stay optimistic that we will come out of this stronger, healthier and happier than we were before.

 

*Unfortunately, there are some families that do not have a healthy dynamic and may be in dangerous situations at home.  If you or anyone you know may be a victim of abuse, please visit the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website for useful resources, or call your local Department of Health and Human S