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$15,000 saved: How COVID flipped my spending habits

·3-min read
COVID-19 forced Ainslee Hooper to change her habits. (Source: Supplied)
COVID-19 forced Ainslee Hooper to change her habits. (Source: Supplied)

The experience of living through COVID lockdowns was different for everybody.

For Ainslee Hooper, it taught her a valuable lesson and radically changed her spending habits.

In the past, the 43-year-old anthropologist viewed her spending as retail therapy. Now she finds that having so much stuff and acquiring things to be anxiety inducing.

“I cringe when I think of how I used to see something and think, "Ooh I need that!". I was an impulse buyer and would buy clothes in every colour. Now, I live in gym clothes unless I'm doing onsite work which has only been twice this year.”

So far she has no desire to go back to her old spending ways. “I've realised just how unnecessary these things are. I'm a big fan of minimalism now,” she says.

Hooper, who lives in Geelong with her partner and dog, says the pandemic has taught her to appreciate what is a necessary want versus an unnecessary one.

“I've become much more socially conscious, and if I do have to spend, I make sure it's done to support local business rather than big brands like I used to. I'm self-employed, so any money I get coming in goes straight back into the business these days.”

Adding up how much she has saved has helped her to see how much money she spent.

“I hadn’t added up how much I have saved until now. I've saved about $10,000 to $15,000 a year, which is quite scary,” she says. “I spend less. I’m not getting as many parcels delivered, and I've cut back spending on clothes, makeup and hair.”

Ainslee saved thousands by overhauling her budget. (Source: Getty)
Ainslee saved thousands by overhauling her budget. (Source: Getty)

On average Hooper says, she would easily spend $3000 a year on clothes. Over the past year she has purchased only two items of clothing.

“I am glad to have gone through this process because I see how much I spend.”

“For Christmas gifts I'm asking for things I need, like a portable hard drive to back up my PhD work. Before, I would normally ask for a voucher to get a facial or a massage, now I'd rather something I can use and I’ll be doing the same for family and friends.”

Hooper is not alone. Data released by rideshare service, DiDi, and YouGov found more than a quarter of Australians are attempting to save more as a result of COVID-19.

Two thirds of Australians are putting up to 20 per cent of their income towards savings. Eight in ten Aussies say they tend to wait and search for sales and discounts prior to making a non-essential purchase.

Money Coach and author Max Phelps lists his top six tips to get more happiness from every dollar spent, without blowing the budget:

1. Make a budget: Do this for the whole year, not for one pay cycle to allow for the big things that only come around once a year like registration, holidays and Christmas.

2. Plan for holidays: And save for them separately. Open a savings account labeled “holidays” and any excess monies are put into the account, no matter how small.

3. Christmas bills: The average Sydney household spends around $2,000 extra at Christmas. Studies show that giving gifts and spending time with loved ones makes us happier than spending money on ourselves.

4. Have a weekly spending allowance: And stick to it.

5. Use tools: Online apps are everywhere, look for one that focuses on creating a plan with a budget.

6. Don’t be scared to get help: If you and your partner have different money personalities, contact a money coach or counselor.

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