How to Make Your Post-COVID Budget

post-covid budget

I received my COVID-19 vaccine last week, and I’ve already started moving from dreaming about my post-COVID vaccine life to actually planning it.  

Beyond scheduling some practicalities like doctor’s appointments that were delayed during COVID, haircuts, and some nice to-do’s (massage and maybe even a pedicure), I’m now starting to think beyond and consider what my life will really look like in three to four months.

What exactly does my life look like post-COVID vaccine? Will we be signing our kids up for full-day camps all summer? We used to have a regular babysitter who came 1-2x/week, so will that become a part of our routine again? What about the gym membership and endless activities for the kids? 

The reality is that, unlike many Americans who lost jobs and businesses during COVID, we fared ok financially.  In many ways, our savings increased due to decreases in many costs, primarily childcare.

That said, we increased our expenses in other areas by supporting local restaurants and relying primarily on grocery delivery. We also greatly increased our digital subscriptions with apps for games and subscribing for just about every movie/TV service out there. 

Developing a Post-COVID Budget

How have your expenses fared during the pandemic? Before you go back to life as it was pre-COVID, now is the time to sit down and really think about your post-COVID budget.

What changes did you make to your life over the last year that you want to keep? What do you need to move back to?

Here are three steps to developing a post-COVID budget.

1. Review Your Current Budget

How much have you been spending each month for the past 12 months? Take these costs and then think about what you haven’t been spending money on that you did previously. Add those costs back in to get your post-COVID budget. 

2. Review Your Pre-COVID Budget

Another way to develop your post-COVID budget is to review the expenses and budgets before you had before the shutdowns that started in March 2020. How much were you spending per month in which categories?

Now take out items that you don’t think you will return to, and add back in items for new hobbies or changes in your life in the past year. For example, maybe you had a kid or bought a new house. 

3. Start From Scratch 

One of my favorite ways to budget is to start with a clean sheet of paper or a blank spreadsheet on your computer. List all of the categories where you spend the most money, including both needs and wants. What matters most?  

You shouldn’t rely on this as a final budget without using some actual numbers to help inform it as you finalize it. However, it’s a great way to think about what matters most to you and where you want to spend your money.

The Bottom Line

Before you return to your old spending habits, now is the time to reconsider your savings and spending priorities as you think about what matters most for your post-COVID life.