Australians are spending up big to stay entertained during coronavirus But there are easy ways to kick the habit, explains Anthony Keane.
Australians are spending up big to stay entertained during coronavirus But there are easy ways to kick the habit, explains Anthony Keane.

The best way to stop wasting money during coronavirus

Booze, gambling and food delivery services have become expensive habits for Australians since COVID-19 hit hard in March, but breaking these habits may be easier than you think.

Researchers reckon it takes about two months to form a new habit, which gets wired into our brains through repetitive behaviour, and with the pandemic now into its seventh month that's enough time to develop some big-spending behaviour.

The latest data from credit bureau Illion and economists AlphaBeta shows Aussies are spending 277 per cent more on food deliveries than what we used to, 94 per cent more on online gambling and 22 per cent more on alcohol and tobacco.

I've heard stories of individuals splashing $500 in one week on Uber Eats alone - that's a lot of cash and calories.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation is concerned that one in five Aussies have been drinking more than usual during lockdowns.

I was among them, and recently stopped my nightly scotch and Coke habit after negative impacts on both wallet and waistline.

Consumer spending on food delivery services during COVID-19 has skyrocketed.
Consumer spending on food delivery services during COVID-19 has skyrocketed.

The foundation, which is running a new campaign at littlehabit.com.au, says average at-home wine drinkers spend at least $215 a month on wine bought at the shop, while for beer drinkers it's $120.

It encourages drinking within government guidelines - a maximum of 10 standard drinks a week - to protect your health and wealth.

Not all coronavirus money habits are bad. Many people have received a cash boost from cancelling holidays and entertainment and have funnelled extra cash into mortgages or other debt.

If they continue this, the repetition will wire a habit into their brains and they'll be in a better financial position in the future.

If you've got some COVID spending bad habits that need to be banished, here's what psychologists and financial experts suggest.

 

1. KNOW WHAT IT COSTS

A little research can give you the motivation to get started. Almost all our transactions are logged online, so check your credit or debit card account to track your spending habit.

 

2. START WITH JUST ONE

If you have multiple spending issues, don't try to overhaul them all at once. Pick one problem and deal with it first - even if it's just a small one. Progress is progress.

People who buy wine to drink at home are spending more than $215 a month on it.
People who buy wine to drink at home are spending more than $215 a month on it.

3. WRITE IT DOWN

Know exactly what you want to stop. Writing stuff down makes it much more realistic than when it's just in your head, and displaying it somewhere visible it will help keep you on track.

 

4. HAVE A PLAN B

Replace your problem spending with something rewarding such as an enjoyable activity. Psychologists say having a substitute is important. So when you're facing a spending trigger, you've already worked out what you are going to do instead to take your mind off it - and hopefully save money.

 

5. GET HELP

A friend or family member who knows that you're trying to kick a spending habit may offer support when temptation strikes. Just make sure they don't have a similar habit and your negative spending feeds off each other.

@keanemoney

Originally published as How to stop wasting money during COVID lockdown


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