This weekend saw us celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary and the original plan had been to go to a gig at the o2, to see Queen and Adam Lambert, which had been rescheduled from last year due to the pandemic. We like to make a weekend of it, so we had booked the Tower Hotel for a couple of nights,
With the on/off of restrictions over the last 15 or so months, we weren't surprised when the concert was postponed again until 2022 - giving us something to look forward to for our 7th Wedding Anniversary - but we decided to stick with the plan of visiting London, and so took our first weekend trip away since Covid turned everyone's lives upside down last March.
The long weekend we had was fantastic. The weather was good, there was a definite buzz about London again and, although many tourist places remain closed or very restricted, with Theatreland only just starting to open, the pubs and restaurants were incredibly well organised, with all covid restrictions in place. This meant we could enjoy food, drink and people watching - some of our favourite ways to spend our hours, feeling safe and appreciating the ability to take in some sort of "normal" even if we are some way off being through this strange time.
Because it was planned in advance, for us, much of the weekend had already been paid for - the hotel had been pre-booked, our anniversary lunch at Gordon Ramsay's Restaurant, Petrus, had also been postponed from last year and we had partly covered the cost in advance, and we took advantage of converting our accumulated Tesco Clubcard Vouchers to pay for some of our other meals.
We didn't fancy the tube, although it was still quieter than a "normal" weekend, it was still fairly busy, and it was hot, so we chose to put our trainers on and walk everywhere we could. This had the benefit of saving us the tube fares, keeping us in the fresh air, but also being able to take in some of the skyline, and features, that we wouldn't have seen if we had been on the underground.
So, all in all, we had a fabulous celebratory weekend, and we didn't have to find too much "new" money to cover it. Plus, of course, we still have the gig to look forward to next year, with those tickets already paid for and the cost long forgotten.
This is the sort of weekend (not necessarily with Petrus for lunch!) that we would have enjoyed several times a year before the pandemic. We would think nothing of hopping on the train or driving down to London, booking a hotel, seeing a concert or show, eating and drinking out, a bit of shopping, and generally just mooching about enjoying a change of scenery, and there is no doubting that we have missed it.
As we totted up how much the weekend had cost, with things we had pre-paid, and things we had covered as we went, it hit us that returning to our pre-pandemic lifestyle is going to mean our bank accounts taking a hit again!
In theory, at least, because we haven't been going out so much over recent months, we should have been accumulating money in our bank accounts, and we might feel that we can justify a swift return to spending again. But is that the reality - how much have you "saved" over lockdown - travel costs to work, weekends away, visits to the pub with friends, football matches, festivals, gigs, haircuts, manicures - the list is endless, and that's before the bigger costs of long weekends away, and the annual holiday, or two!
But does your bank account REALLY show a pot of saved lockdown money, or has it been frittered away or absorbed into other expenses over time? Of course, if you have been furloughed over the last year and a half, you will have had less coming in to start with, so although the fact you couldn't go out as much as you would have liked, should mean that you are at least breaking even, is that really the case?
NOW is the time to look at what you want to be returning to. The world is slowly opening up again, and we want to make the most of it after such a tough year and a half - that much is natural. But we can't necessarily just dive in to what we want to do, hand over our debit cards, and know that the cost has been covered.
Grab your banking app, or your statements and look back at the things that have crept in over recent months. Have you increased your TV subscription, been developing an Amazon habit, spending more on the National Lottery, or online bingo? Whatever you've been spending to help you get through the weirdness of Covid, I'm not here to tell you that you shouldn't, but I am here to ask you where you want your priorities to be going forwards, and what you are going to be happy cutting back on again, cancelling completely, or somehow reaching a compromise.
Decide what it is you are really looking forward to as we return to normality. Work out the cost of that. Are you actually intending on spending MORE as you think "hang it" as some sort of reward for surviving lockdown? It is all a natural response, but at what cost? Perhaps, like us this weekend, most of it is carried over from cancellations last year, perhaps you even have whole holidays to look forward to that have been paid for long ago, but awareness is key, so the same exercise is worthwhile so you don't trip yourselves up financially and inadvertently put yourself under stress.
If you'd like help in getting clarity around your finances, or your money mindset, do get in touch and get yourself ready for the next chapter of your story to be a financially savvy and successful one!
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