At long last, 2021 is here. However, the pandemic is far from over. The COVID-19 vaccine serves as a light at the end of the tunnel, but there isn’t enough for everyone yet.
2020 in Review: The Year in Pandemic Activities
More than 27 million Americans have received the first dose of the vaccine as of early February, according to The New York Times, and more than 6 million have been fully vaccinated. But with the vaccine available in very limited quantities, it’s currently reserved for healthcare workers, assisted living workers and elderly people.
Rightfully so, the next phases have also been allocated to more vulnerable populations, meaning the general public probably won’t be able to receive the vaccine until late spring or even summer. Therefore, if you’re part of this group, it’s time to start preparing to stay home more than ever this winter.
What you might not realize is you can enjoy a fresh start to the new year while continuing to quarantine. Read on for tips to stay healthy and entertained at home, without putting too much strain on your bank account.
Review Your Monthly Budget
No doubt, you didn’t plan to stay home for the bulk of 2020. This almost definitely changed your spending habits, so now is the time to check in and see where your money is going.
There’s a good chance you’re not spending as much as you did pre-COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. For example, if you started buying coffee out several times a week because you had nothing better to do, you might be surprised at the amount you’re spending.
Budgeting 101: How To Create a Budget You Can Live With
Put More Money Aside for Indoor Entertainment
In most parts of the country, chilly temperatures limit outdoor time during the winter months. Therefore, it’s important to invest in more indoor entertainment, to avoid a strong case of cabin fever.
This could include buying more board games, books, video games or even investing in a streaming service you don’t currently subscribe to. You could also take an online course or sharpen your culinary skills by preparing more elaborate meals.
Creating extra room in your budget for these newfound indoor hobbies will allow you to stay busy, without stressing about your impending credit card bill.
Work On a DIY Home Improvement Project
You know those home improvement projects you’ve been meaning to do forever? There’s never been a better time to complete them. Whether you want to hang wallpaper, install a new light fixture or recaulk your bathtub, you probably have plenty of time to complete all the items on your to-do list and more.
Just be sure to estimate costs before getting started. As you probably already know, home improvement projects can add up fast. Make sure you have the funds on hand to finance the entire project, along with a little extra in case you run into unplanned expenses.
Allocate Extra Funds for Delivery Services
When the weather outside is frightful, the last thing you want to do is make a trip to the grocery store or pick up takeout. During normal times, you’d probably force yourself to go out anyway. However, opting for delivery during the pandemic is both convenient and responsible, as you’re helping reduce crowds in public spaces.
Plenty of delivery services offer subscriptions that allow you to pay one monthly or annual fee in exchange for unlimited free delivery. For example, DoorDash offers DashPass, which costs $9.99 per month for free delivery and reduced service fees at eligible restaurants. Additionally, an Amazon Prime membership costs $12.99 monthly — $119 per year — but gives you unlimited free grocery delivery from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods.
Start Saving For a Post-COVID-19 Vacation
You’re going to need to spend as much time as possible at home this winter, but your turn for the COVID-19 vaccine is coming. Keep your spirits up by planning your first post-pandemic vacation — it’s probably best to avoid choosing dates just yet though.
Selecting a destination will allow you to create a realistic budget for your trip, so you can start putting money aside for it. Instead of feeling down about all the things you’re missing out on, put the cash you would be spending into your vacation fund.
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