Managing Spending in a Crisis

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Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Reflecting on March, we spent a bit more than usual.

I felt a pang of guilt initially, but then I reminded myself that these are unique times.

We are in a bit of a crisis everywhere. While this is not a free pass to ditch our budget entirely, it presents unique challenges and creates different spending habits.

Here are a few items we are spending money on that we normally wouldn’t:

Books

We always use the library for free books, but they are closed right now and my son LOVES to read. So we found a great used bookstore online to get him a few books every couple weeks. (thriftbooks.com, not affiliate link).  The books average $4 each, so we can get him 4 or 5 books at a time without spending too much.

Crafts and Hands-on Activities

We are trying to minimize screen time and provide other activities for our kids. Without the option of parks and other “kid places,” we have turned to crafts and building kits.

We found a company called KiwiCo that sends little crates of build-your-own activities. My daughter built her own claw and my son built a spin art device with a motor. We plan to purchase a few more of these items during the quarantine, but at approximately $20 per crate they will be special purchases only.

We also got paint, paper, and other art supplies at the Dollar Store to do general art projects on our own.

Take-Out Food

In a typical week we eat every single meal and snack at home. This is one of the main ways that we meet our budget and stay healthy. I enjoy cooking and meal prep and it is usually a source of stress relief.

But now that Kevin is working from home and we are all home everyday, getting take-out food 2-3 days a week breaks up the monotony.

Also, it has been discouraging to meal plan and not be able to find ingredients. So we eat at home when possible, but fill in the gaps with affordable take-out.

Gourmet Coffee

In an effort to support our favorite local coffee shops and drink really good coffee in quarantine, I bought 4 1/2 pounds of coffee online.

It has been a huge bright spot for Kevin and I to drink some really good coffee each day.

Grocery Delivery and Pick-up

As we try to stay home more, I have had one grocery order delivered ($10 fee) and plan to do some pickup grocery orders going forward (no fee).

Normally we just walk to the grocery store every other day to get a couple days of groceries. But right now we are trying to buy 4-5 days worth to limit our trips to the store. This had led to spending a bit more overall because it is easy to just add another item to the online grocery cart when you do not have to walk home with it!

However, a benefit of ordering groceries online is seeing what is in stock and not being disappointed and panicked by empty shelves. Definitely pros and cons!


Since we normally live so simply and frugally, these purchases have a high impact on us during this time of quarantine. These purchases add some fun to a hard situation.

We are mindful of the changes in our spending and working hard to avoid wasteful and habitual spending.

We are not hoarding items or overstocking. We are just evaluating what our new needs are and trying to work them into our budget.

Getting to the other side of this crisis will be difficult, no doubt.

But small things can help the process.

-Brittany

 

2 comments

  1. Brittany,
    I agree! We are more or less staying on budget, but extra costs for home workbooks, art supplies and a surprise LEGO, as well as weekly take out to support our neighborhood businesses all feel like important deviations. They also serve as bright spots that break up our week. I feel like our spending in other areas (gas, travel, etc.) has gone down, so we will meet our financial goals while maintaining our sanity and enjoying this time instead of “biding our time”.
    Peace, patience and health to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Britt, I agree that my grocery bill is bigger than normal but I’ve had no Starbucks, Dining out, grandkid shopping , and my gas is next to nothing! My coffee consumption is high and I love good coffee, so money well spent! I look forward to reading your articles!

    Liked by 1 person

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