When the pandemic hit, I started buying things.
At first it was something I was afraid I would need: I piled up a really plentiful supply of toilet paper, mountains of soup cans, Clorox wipes that I had shipped across several states, and a tin of melted chocolate cake mix, in case things went wrong. really wrong. Soon I was shopping for stuff to make myself feel better: an overpriced loungewear set (I’ll probably be working from home for a while), exercise weight (in three sizes, in case I get stronger!), even a new sofa (I would be sitting on it a lot, wouldn’t I?).
Then something happened that had never happened before in my adult life: I stopped buy things. As the pandemic progressed, even though I continued to window shop, there was nothing left that I actually felt the need to own. What would I do with a new dress? I was in quarantine. Who needs fancy outdoor gear when you don’t have travel plans? I didn’t even buy any remodeling items beyond the sofa as what I already had was functional enough. On the rare occasion, I did find myself wanting something, I was much less spontaneous than I had been in the past; the anxiety of being a new single income household made me reconsider clicking ‘add to cart’. Soon my checking account thanked me – my balance reflected how needlessly I had spent money before.
It was only more recently, post-vax, that I found myself falling back into my old spending habits; alas, as I believe Shakespeare once wrote, It’s one thing to be tempted, another thing to be a victim of Memorial Day sales. But I can’t wait to keep from losing all of the progress I had made towards a less consumerist lifestyle, so I devised a bold and somewhat terrifying plan: for the whole of summer, Memorial Day. at Labor Day, I’m not going to spend a dime on new things.
Obviously, I will always need groceries and necessities like spare toothbrush heads and (sigh) always more toilet paper. But last year taught me that spending money on things won’t make my life better. Instead, with the disposable income I have, I want to focus on the things I couldn’t do during the pandemic: traveling, going out to eat with friends, seeing movies in theaters.
I suspect others will end up in a similar boat. In the 11 months to January 2021, Americans saved an additional $ 1.7 trillion, according to an analysis, while retail spending simultaneously plunged during the first days of quarantine. “The pandemic has really helped me stop and budget because the pandemic has proven that the physical elements just aren’t important,” said a 32-year-old New Jersey resident. USA today. Some analysts have even gone so far as to worry that Americans’ reassessment of their priorities means sales of high heels and bras may never recover.
Today, however, more than 50 percent of US consumers “expect to spend more on splurging or treating themselves” after the pandemic, according to a survey by consulting firm Mckinsey. You did just surviving a traumatic event once in a generation, who says you shouldn’t live a little?
But at the same time, our spending habits have certainly changed. Personally, I have a renewed desire to shop at local stores, having lost so many large businesses in my neighborhood this past spring and summer. I want to be in a group and I plunged my toes back into studio fitness classes. My greatest pleasure for me? A return ticket to a family reunion later this year.
Indeed, spending on experiences such as travel, entertainment, and even weddings is booming. “We have a desire to have these experiences – even if it means swiping that credit card, because at this point we’re all just crazy in our heads,” a Utah resident told CNN. “I fully expect [initially] spending more than I normally would on these activities to make up for lost time. A Pennsylvania woman interviewed for the same article echoed that “I’m cutting unnecessary expenses” while planning to take multiple trips this year.
I have learned to appreciate the non-material parts of my life over the past year; time spent with the people I love has turned out to be far more valuable than anything my money can buy. I do not need to bring more junk through my door, so I won’t. Everything I need – at least for this summer – I’ll find it by walking through the front door instead.