The COVID-19 outbreak has popularized the phrase “the new normal.” From wearing masks to socially distancing, the coronavirus pandemic is changing how we do everything.
These changes also extend to budgeting. The coronavirus pandemic is causing many of us to have to plan for things we have never had to before. As a result, additional items and processes can help you safely navigate this outbreak. These things should become a regular part of your budget.
Below are ten new budget items that you should plan for as you navigate this “new normal.”
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
While most state and city governments are not requiring individuals to wear masks and gloves, it is still a good idea to have these items stockpiled. PPE may not seem like a large expense, but if you are an essential worker, or have to venture outside for groceries or necessary items, the cost of masks and gloves can add up. Therefore, you should add safety-related items, like PPE, to your budget, either as a one time expense or a monthly cost.
Additional Grocery Items
The COVID-19 outbreak has sent shocks through supply chains all over the country and globally This means that it’s becoming a lot more difficult for grocery stores to receive adequate shipments of various goods, especially toilet paper, meat products, and cleaning supplies. Shortages are a constant threat. Neither you nor your family want to be caught without enough food if you are unable to get to the grocery store, or if food items are out of stock. It helps if you purchase additional groceries and non-perishable food items when you make grocery runs, or get items delivered Adding this expense to your budget will allow you to plan for any potential food shortages or emergencies.
Higher Internet Charges
COVID-19 is causing most professionals and students to work and learn from home. With more people using the internet in your home, it is critical that you make sure everyone has a working connection. Numerous internet and phone companies have lifted data caps, waived late fees, and allowed customers to use high-speed internet for free, but many of these perks have expired. Consequently, it is vital that you plan for possible price increases resulting from higher internet usage.
Fees for Takeout and Grocery Delivery
Even though many states are reopening, numerous restaurants are still not allowing customers to dine-in. So, whether you are ordering takeout for the weekend or getting groceries delivered for the week, these activities will likely come with the additional cost of delivery fees. These fees can range from a few dollars to up to $12.99 for some grocery delivery services. Therefore, be sure to keep this cost in mind as you prepare your budget.
This element should already be a part of your budget planning efforts. However, we want to include it here in case it is something you have not yet accounted for. If you are fortunate enough to have a steady income, make building a savings account that can cover three to six months of expenses a priority. With the economy and the related job market in its current state of uncertainty, it’s essential to set aside money in case you lose your income stream.
Entertainment and Streaming Platforms
Places like movie theaters, malls, and entertainment venues are still closed throughout most of the country. Accordingly, home entertainment should be a line item on your budget, if it isn’t already. Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and many other platforms are making it easy to enjoy movies, shows, and even live television at home. You may also want to include things like books, board games, and even children’s toys to the list. Even though these items may not be the top priority, it is still important to add them to your budget as these costs can add up if they are unplanned.
Less need to travel is causing many to save on car-related expenses, like gas and auto insurance premiums. Nevertheless, it would be best if you still planned for auto-related costs, especially repairs. When cars sit idly for too long, they can experience corrosion, drained batteries, and even fuel tank malfunctions. You can try to avoid this by taking your vehicle on a short drive, even so it helps to have money set aside in case your car still needs repairs.
While this is not a separate line-item, it is worth keeping in mind as you create your budget for the month. Since you are spending more time at home, you are likely to use more electricity, water, and heating or cooling energy. Therefore, your utility bill may be higher than expected. Prepare for this cost by adding more money to cover higher utility and energy bills for the month.
You will need a new way to get to your destination if you do not own a car and are dependent on public transportation. Uber and Lyft may offer a safer alternative to traveling than public transit, especially in major cities. Consequently, it is important that you include ridesharing fairs into your monthly budget plans. Depending on where you live and how far away you are from your job or grocery stores, both of these options can be expensive, so be sure to plan for them. You can even download apps and use them to map out routes so you can see costs ahead of time.
Increased Phone Costs
Much like the internet, you are going to use your phone now more than ever. Whether it is calling to check up on loved ones, shopping online, or using it for entertainment, there is a high possibility that your phone usage costs will increase. Therefore, keep an eye on your cell phone data and monitor your bill for any data overages. You may find that you need to upgrade your plan to allow for more data usage as well as higher speeds.
Preparing for This New Normal Can Save You Money Each Month
Unfortunately, as COVID-19 continues to impact much of our daily lives, things are going to become more expensive. Nevertheless, with a bit of forethought and strategy, you can prepare to handle any additional costs that come your way.
Be sure to monitor your spending each month and pay attention to any new trends and higher prices. From there, you can build a budget to manage these new changes.
For more help related to COVID-19, please take a look at our current articles and videos.