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One of the changes caused by the pandemic has been in how we spend our money, and it makes sense. Children don’t leave the house for school; many don’t leave the house for work. We’re not spending money on things that we used to because we can’t, but also because our priorities have changed. If you’re one of the more than 40 million people who are unemployed, you may simply not have enough money to spend the way you used to; however, it’s not surprising how people are spending money during coronavirus.
With the inability to eat out at restaurants as we used to, we’re spending more on groceries. According to a USA Today poll, 57% of Americans spent more than normal on their groceries in April. Kids home from school eat. Grown-ups working from home eat. People feeling anxious right now eat. Others are stocking up because the early days of the pandemic showed us that some foods and household items may be difficult to get (we’re looking at you, toilet paper). While the stay-at-home order is in place, some people have taken the extra time on their hands to learn to cook new things, such as sourdough bread.
Because most restaurants were able to stay open by offering take-out and curbside pickup with added precautions, people continue to spend money on takeout (33% of them exactly), both to support local establishments and get a break from cooking.
For our own safety and the safety of others, we’ve all become germ experts and masters of cleaning, which has led to a huge increase in the need for cleaning products. The need for anti-bacterial soaps, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and sanitizing sprays has led most people surveyed (53%) to spend more of their household budgets on cleaning products.
People need entertainment, and being homebound has sent consumers to streaming services in droves. Since January, Netflix has seen an increase of 15.77 million subscribers globally (well above the 7 million it had anticipated) while Disney+ added a whopping 22 million new subscribers.
Where We Are Spending Less
There’s some good news when it comes to spending money during coronavirus. We may be spending money on some things, but we’re spending less on others. With people not going out, they’re not spending money at movie theaters, sit-down restaurants, concerts, museums, and other entertainment activities, and it means less spending on beauty products. Working from home also means we’re spending less on apparel, and big purchases dropped significantly with home sales falling 17.8% and auto sales dropping 32%. We’re spending much less on transportation, which has prompted many auto insurance companies to give their customers partial refunds on premiums. With excursions canceled, 75% surveyed say they’ve saved money on vacations. Parents who keep their kids home while they work from home are saving lots of money on daycare.
Despite these savings, 45% say they’re spending more money at home than they would if there wasn’t a pandemic.
Spending Money after the Coronavirus
When stores, restaurants, and other businesses begin to re-open their doors and we can begin to regain some normalcy, our spending habits will change once again. However, this time, we’re armed with the knowledge that we can in fact live without some of the luxuries that we thought we needed. We’ve been shown what’s important, what isn’t, and how we can scale back on some things. The importance of an emergency fund should be glaring right now, and it should prompt more people to take steps to have more money set aside if this ever happens again.