We might be used to living with restrictions now — after all we've spent over 100 days with limited movement. Queueing to do the weekly shop, washing our hands for 20 seconds (queue the 'Happy Birthday' song), and seeing our loved ones from afar are now common occurrences.
Although these look set to stay like this for some time, some other restrictions are easing; non-essential shops opened their doors a couple of weeks back and the pubs are dusting off their beer mats and opening their doors this very weekend.
Although the opening of brick and mortar shops has bought joy to millions of Brits up and down the country, it has made some of us think about our finances again.
Almost six in 10 readers of loveMONEY said their finances had improved and as a result, they felt better off financially in lockdown — double the number who reported taking a financial hit.
Holidays, commuting, and entertainment have all taken a backseat, leaving some of us hundreds of pounds better off at the end of the month. But with many of our old lives returning back to some kind of normal, how can you continue saving money?
Compare the before and after
The chances are your outgoings since the end of March are considerably different to the four months prior, so to work out where you can save, compare your most recent bank statements with your previous ones and document where you can cut back.
Does your morning flat white, lunch treats and commuting online shopping habit drain your finances more than you thought? Well if you've managed to live without them over the past few months, you can probably live without them going forward. Of course, do reward yourself with the odd treat, but we're betting you can save a fortune by being more conscious about what you spend - and when!
Set up a savings account
If you haven't already, now is the time to set up a standing order directly into a savings account. It doesn't have to be an all singing, all dancing account, just one separate from your current account. And don't wait to see how much you have left at the end of the month, either. This needs to go out the day after payday to ensure you stick to a budget and help you control your day-to-day spending.
With the current situation, we advise setting up a savings account where you can get easy access to your money within a few days.
Do the 30-day test
If you see something you want, but don't necessarily need, put the 30-day test to the, er test. If you're unsure what this is, it's essentially where you leave the item in your basket (online) or in the shop, and wait 30 days before deciding if you actually want it. If, by the end of the month, you've decided it's for you then go and get it. However a lot of the time you'll end up realising you were simply acting on impulse.
Embrace the lockdown life
Lockdown has changed the way we live, and although we now have more freedom than ever, that doesn't mean old habits have to die hard. Instead of rolling back into the same routine of going out three times a week, getting takeaway every weekend and popping to the local shops every other day, take heed from the last few months and embrace staying in a little bit more; invite friends over (where and when it's safe to do so) instead of heading out on multiple nights of the week, cook from scratch instead of ordering that takeaway, and meal plan for at least half the week so you can get everything you need at once from the big shop. The savings will soon add up and you'll probably enjoy spending more time at home.
There are things you need, of course, such as food, maybe a new pair of shoes for work, a washing machine should yours give up the ghost. But just because you have a valid reason to buy something new, it doesn't mean you have to buy it from the first place you land upon.
Shopping around can save you loads of money — especially when it comes to higher value items like electronics. Using voucher codes and getting cashback is also a great way to save money when shopping online.
Set a goal
The lockdown brought challenges, but it has also driven us to set our own challenges. Many of us took up running, some started a weight loss journey or kicked a habit, and others decided to use their free time to upskill. If you're looking for a new challenge, set yourself a savings goal to achieve by the end of summer or Christmas. If you have a set figure in mind and can visualise it, it will help you get there all the faster.