The phrase “grow through what you go through” certainly hits home for the lifestyle choices we can continue to make when the global health pandemic eventually fades. As the number of those vaccinated for COVID-19 surges in the United States, the path to a more normal future seems closer than ever.
While much of what we have endured throughout the pandemic – including loss of life and the loss of connections with loved ones – won’t be easily forgotten, there are a few silver-linings tucked in to our current socially-distanced existence.
Many of us have reconnected with our immediate families, bringing out board games and rediscovering the joys of family movie nights.
We learned how to connect online better than ever, and can probably cook a few more dishes (thanks New York Times food section) than we could when 2020 dawned. We also saved money on gas, parking, clothes and cosmetics while doing our jobs remotely.
Here are a few other money-saving habits you should keep up when the spread of COVID-19 is finally controlled:
FEWER TRIPS TO THE MARKET
Before lockdowns forced millions more online to order pantry staples, grocery shopping was an everyday habit for many. The lesson? Making a weekly trip for groceries, or even ordering online and using curbside pickup once a week, instead of every day, is doable, and can dramatically lower your monthly food bill.
Wearing a mask and avoiding others immediately limits the time most people spend inside groceries stores these days, which makes impulse buys less likely. That means you can save $6 on the pint of ice cream that wasn’t on your list and avoid the $2 bottle of water, the candy bars and tabloids hovering at eye level while you wait to check out. Limiting yourself to a weekly grocery trip also encourages meal planning, which equates to fewer return trips to the store, and less food waste in general.
LEARNING TO LOVE LEFTOVERS
Cooking and eating meals at home, instead of eating out or ordering in, made many people learn to be more creative with food cooked the day before. Besides being a time-saver, learning to love leftovers is also a money saver. Food waste is a huge problem in the United States, with more than 35 million tons of wasted food dumped in landfills in the U.S. in 2018, according to EPA estimates.
Cooking at home, health experts say, can lead to less calories consumed overall because home-cooked meals have fewer calories, on average, than those prepared in restaurants.
You can also get creative with healthier pre-packaged foods such as rotisserie chickens and bagged veggies. Last night’s roasted chicken and green salad can yield a second great meal of chicken soft tacos, chicken quesadillas or even chick pot pies when you add in a few extra ingredients.
DAILY WALKS INSTEAD Of THE GYM
If you canceled your gym membership in the last 15 months in favor of walking for free around your neighborhood, you likely have saved hundreds without losing any of the health benefits. Continue this new habit into the future and stash the extra cash in your emergency fund or other savings account so the money is there when you need it.
SKIP THE SALON
Depending on where you live and the quality of the products used, having your hair colored by a professional stylist can cost anywhere from $70 to $350 per appointment. Guess what? Doing it yourself is not that hard. And it’s so much more affordable. At the high end, Madison Reed is $26 a box ($22 if you subscribe). Clairol Nice’n Easy sells for $6.99 at Target.com.
STAYCATIONS INSTEAD OF VACATIONS
Many of us have learned that becoming a tourist in our own towns, often known as a staycation, can be lots more fun than donning two masks and slathering on hand sanitizer before hopping on a plane and flying somewhere. The bonus? You are helping the economy thrive where you live, which ultimately means a better quality of life for you and your neighbors.
With reporting by Casandra Andrews