The silver lining of the coronavirus lockdown is the number of reduced expenses and discretionary spends.

Expenses that have decreased since the lockdown and how to use that money strategically

Ever since the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown, your daily routine may have undergone a vast change. You work from home; you don’t go out to shop or dine or catch a movie at the theatre. Chances are you are now doing a lot more household chores than ever before. 

But there’s another big change that is occurring in the midst of all this – the way you spend your money. Think about it: when you saw that your salary for March was deposited in your bank account, didn’t you feel less than elated about it? That’s because you have nothing to spend that money on other than your rent and utility bills. 

Did you realise what this means? You’ve essentially been doing the no-spend challenge for over a month without realising it! As all your discretionary expenses are cut out by the lockdown, and you’re spending on nothing but essentials such as groceries and utility bills. 

Related: How to prepare yourself financially during a pandemic

Let’s look at six key areas where the lockdown is translating into lower costs.

1. Commute

Working from home during the coronavirus outbreak means you can sleep longer as there is no more commuting to work. What a blessing indeed! The money you’re saving on fuel – or your daily cab or auto fare – translates into a significant cost benefit that may seem nominal if you calculate it on a per-day basis, but can add up to quite a bit by the end of the month.

2. Eating out

Miss dining out at your favourite restaurants or ordering from all those food apps on your phone? The struggle is real. But you’re bound to cheer up once you review your expenses from pre-lockdown days and compare it with your food bills now. The bigger bonus is you are also eating healthy, home-cooked food.  

Related: 7 Ways to stay within your budget when eating out

3. Shopping

You finally have proof that you don’t have to be at the mercy of your impulses. The  coronavirus lockdown has amply demonstrated that you can easily curb the desire to buy things you don’t really need. It’s been over a month now, and you’ve managed just fine without shopping, haven’t you? Whether it’s going to the mall or adding a dozen things to your online shopping cart, impulse spends have been put on hold. This can only make your bank balance healthier. 

4. Gifting

The social cost of adulting – gifting – may not seem like a lot when you buy a gift for your friend’s birthday or co-worker's house-warming party, but it adds up over time. Now, with the coronavirus lockdown, social outings are completely ruled out. While you may still have to buy and give gifts to certain people on special occasions once the lockdown ends, most gift-worthy occasions that happened during the lockdown period would have crossed their ‘give-by’ date. Ditch formality and forget about gifting for the sake of it. Instead, you could save that money for other truly meaningful buys. 

5. Travel

The world has not seen something like this before – a global health crisis that’s forced countries around the world to shut down their airports. While the travel industry has taken a major hit due to the pandemic, the opposite has happened to your bank account, thanks to all the trips you cannot make now.

Related: COVID-19: Why cancelling your travel reservations is better than rescheduling? 

6. Miscellaneous 

You can no longer sign up for gym memberships and fitness classes like yoga or zumba. This is another area where your expenses have been reduced. Other feel-good rituals such as going to the salon and the movie theatre are completely out as well. These things may not be something you’re happy about – and that’s understandable – but think about all the money you’re saving.

How to use your savings after the lockdown

We may not know when things will go back to normal, but we can be sure that they eventually will. And when that happens, you can make strategic use of all this money that you are saving from spending less.

  • Debt repayment – The smartest thing you can do with all the money you’ve saved during the lockdown is to use it towards any outstanding debt you have, whether it’s your credit card bills or car loan EMI. 
  • Home improvement – After having spent all this extra time at home, certain pending repairs or renovations may have become sore spots, such as a faulty appliance or chipping wall paint. Use the money to fix these annoyances in your house, or maybe give the walls a makeover.
  • Travel fund – It’s going to be a while before travelling becomes a safe and happy thing again – some feel it could be as long as a year. Put the money in a travel fund to finance a bigger and better vacation than you were planning for before the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Charity/donations – The world is in dire need of help and if you feel for a cause – whether it’s an NGO supporting women who have suffered domestic abuse, or an organisation that’s collecting relief funds – you can do your bit by donating some money. 

To ensure you don’t spend these savings recklessly, make a list of things you want to buy, do, and invest in once the lockdown is over. It will give you something to look forward to and prove to be a source of hope during these dark times. Read this 8 Dos and Don’ts of personal finance during economic slowdown.


How I did it

Praveen Nair

Ever since I retired, I have looked forward to the festive season with added zeal. It is the buzz that I need once in a year in my laidback post-retirement life. I like to celebrate the occasion, get the house painted or renovated, buy gifts for my dear ones or go on a vacation. These things… Read more

Swati Mehra

A couple of years ago I was over the moon after landing my first job. I celebrated regally during the festive season that ensued, only to land in a financial soup for the next few months. With gargantuan credit card bills and barely any cash left, I had no other option but to default the payment… Read more

Rohansh Pathak

It is highly unlikely that all the expenses made during the festive season were worth making in the first place. This is the time of the year when unavoidable expenses are bound to upset your budget plans, and you can do little about it. However, I have made it a point to have a look at the… Read more

Shubhra Banerjee

I am a single mother of one. I lost my husband just 5 years into my marriage. Life has been a struggle for me, but I have managed it and today I have no complaints. 

I was a young widow with a 3 year old son when my husband passed away due to a heart attack. My parents were my rock… Read more