Category: Money Matters
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Sub category: Saving
17 March 2021

What I found out about my new money habits when I looked back at my pre-pandemic budget

Zigging. Zagging. Planning. No planning. That’s 2020 in a nutshell. We hope you fared okay through it all. One thing’s for sure: our attitudes, behaviours and habits have changed. And this might be particularly true for you when it comes to you and your money. If you put your pre-pandemic budget alongside your budget now, how do they look? What’s different, what’s new? Have you put a stop to old splurges – or is your first home now top of your can-dos? Maybe you weren’t even the budgeting type before the pandemic forced you to focus on your financial hygiene. Here, we ask three Australians to take stock of what’s changed for them and their money over the past twelve-ish months and share the (often surprising) differences.


Maddison, 23

How did you manage your money before COVID-19?

Prior to the pandemic, I was always pretty nifty with my budget, including managing my daily spending and saving for big-ticket items. At the time, my big-ticket item was a trip to Europe, with ‘buying a house’ slash ‘moving out to rent’ taking second place.

I had incidental savings goals for things like car expenses, health care and a new phone. Then medium savings goals, like moving out and overseas travel. And then I had major savings goals, for a house. I used two bank accounts, one for the major savings and the other for day-to-day savings and spending.

Has anything changed?

My day-to-day spending is the same and so is my savings for incidentals like car, health care, phone and so on. It’s my medium savings that have changed the most. I’ve stopped saving for travel and am now looking at investing.

I found it was wasteful having my money sitting in a savings account earning small interest amounts when it could be growing at a faster pace in investments. So, I’ve invested and made a bit of money from stocks. Even now, my friends and I bring it up as a regular topic to chat about (money was something we never really used to talk about).

What is your new money mindset?

My new money mindset is about creating opportunities for myself. I’m excited about investing.


Luis, 44

How did you manage your money before COVID-19?

For the last 10 years my family has used a budget spreadsheet with specific spendings and savings, including tracking saving for holidays and allocating money towards buying a home.

Has anything changed?

Quite a few things. First, what hasn’t changed is that we are still using the budget spreadsheet. Second, we now have our money spread across four bank accounts plus a special account allocated to our kids’ future education. We did notice that we had always added date nights and ‘other’ costs, like parties, into our pre-pandemic budget, which we have not used.

Last year was a real eye-opener. What was surprising was that with free child care (which we felt lucky to have), and despite a reduction in our salaries, we ended up increasing our savings by a lot, which was a weird feeling. We also saved around $10K by not going on holidays. So, with this saved money we’ve made a small start investing in shares and refocusing our money towards the kids. Superannuation has become quite important too.

What is your new money mindset?

Save for the future and for the kids.


Cassy, 25

How did you manage your money before COVID-19?

I was living with my parents (and I still am as I look for a house) and paying for board and groceries, so the rest of my money I could spend on whatever I wanted. I had never really thought about a budget – the only two thoughts I had were to make sure I always had some savings and avoid spending all my income each month.

I was into travelling, so I spent lots on travelling plus on things like going out, makeup and clothes.

Has anything changed?

A lot has changed. I realised during lockdown that we’re not going to be travelling or going anywhere for some time, so maybe I should consider saving for a deposit for a house.

With a lot of spare time during lockdown, I hunted out deals, specials, and loyalty rewards programs.. I opened bank accounts that earn more interest. I read books on investing. I cancelled subscriptions I didn’t need – and I switched to different subscriptions to get free trials. I stopped wearing makeup every day (I don’t buy ANYWHERE near as much makeup as I used to). I now cut my own hair and have stopped getting it coloured.

I do more entertaining at home, like hosting BBQs and drinks rather than going to restaurants and bars (I learnt how to cook really well during lockdown). And I love camping, so we use free apps to find all the free camping spots in Victoria. Plus, my boyfriend and I agreed to stop spending hundreds of dollars on each other’s birthdays and Christmases.

Plus, when I need to fill up I use apps like Petrol Spy – it shows you the cheapest petrol stations in your area.

What is your new money mindset?

I now give it some thought each time I spend my money and how quickly $20 here and there adds up. And if I’m looking at a sale, rather than thinking about how much I’m saving on a discounted item, I think about how much I’m spending. I’m more responsible with my money now and I give more thought to the future me, making decisions so I’ll be more well-off in the future.

Have your money goals changed over this past year too? Find out more about the state of goals, dreams, hobbies, relationships and favourite lingo of Aussies in 2021 in the full ING Sense of Us report.
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