If there is one nice thing about a world-ending pandemic, it‘s that I saved a ton of money in entertainment expenses.
I’m (mostly) joking because I managed to bleed far too much cash on far too many frivolous things. Any money I managed to save in entertainment expenses I promptly squandered on unnecessary items. I took money away from my local bartenders and waiters and sent it directly to Jeff Bezos.
Let’s not dwell on that…
Instead, let’s use this as an opportunity to better position ourselves for the future. Today, I will focus on some financial lessons we may or may not have learned during the pandemic but should apply to our financial lives going forward.
Financial Lessons From COVID Times
Drink at Home
OK, before you call for an intervention, this isn’t what it sounds like. I have a strict policy of never drinking alone. Enjoying a beer or cocktail is a social function for me. It also means, as a practical matter, that I drink less.
Apart from the obvious health benefits, there are economic ones as well. Booze is expensive. Limiting your consumption to social engagements saves you money.
Now for the “drink at home” part. Once you factor in tips, you can buy an entire six-pack of a good beer for the cost of a pint or two at a bar.
It’s the same story with liquor. There are approximately 17 shots in a standard 750ml bottle. After taxes and whatnot, a mid-priced bottle of whiskey is going to run around $35. They get a lot more expensive than that, but we’ll assume we’re on a budget here.
The typical cocktail has a shot or two of liquor in it. Let’s be generous, suspend disbelief and assume the bartender isn’t watering down your drink and go with two shots. That’s roughly $4-worth of booze in a cocktail that might cost anywhere from $10 to $20, depending on where you’re drinking. (And that’s being generous.)
It’s not just cost. Quality matters too. The typical bartender spends all of 15 seconds mixing a drink with mediocre results. (Not to bash all bartenders, of course. I have met plenty who were true artists, and their creations were an experience to behold. But let’s just say they are the exception and not the rule, and you find them at places with prices higher than what we’re assuming here.)
If you mix your drinks at home, you’ll have better quality and lower cost. Invest a little in a home bar, buy a book on cocktails, have your friends over and have fun with it. Experiment. See what works. You’ll drink better, you’ll have more fun and you’ll be more comfortable in your living room or patio than you’d be fighting for space at a bar.
Block Amazon From Your Phone
I wasted a shocking amount of money last year on impulse purchases from Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN). I bought a $900 luggage box to sit on top of my SUV. I’ve used it once, and it now sits in my garage collecting dust. And that’s just the largest and most obvious. I could make a list a mile long of stupid and impulsive Amazon purchases.
Bluetooth speakers? I have three.
Fifty feet of Velcro cable ties? Yes, that seemed like a smart purchase after I tripped over a mess of cables in my living room … cables I also bought on Amazon.
I don’t say this to bash Amazon. I love the company, and the convenience is incredible. But that convenience can get you into trouble. I ended up with a house of stuff I didn’t need or want.
So, here’s a little piece of advice. By all means, keep shopping on Amazon. But delete the app from your phone and block the website. If you have to flip open your laptop to make a purchase, it will slow you down enough to avoid at least a few boneheaded purchases.
Is it ridiculous to play mental games like these with yourself?
Do they work?
And while you’re at it, delete social media apps off your phone. You’ll suddenly find you have more free time, and you’ll wish you’d done it sooner.
To safe profits,
Co-Editor, Green Zone Fortunes
Charles Sizemore is the co-editor of Green Zone Fortunes and specializes in income and retirement topics. He is also a frequent guest on CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox Business.