Jane Clack, Money Advice Consultant at PayPlan gives her views on how to conserve resources and save money in lockdown.

The impact of Coronavirus

Due to lockdown, we’re seeing a lot of people across the UK either receiving 80% of their usual salary or having a significantly reduced income for an unknown amount of time. If you have lost your job or your self-employed income has dried up, then your goal should be to apply for Universal Credit online, straight away. You can also visit PayPlan’s Coronavirus Debt Help hub for more information. For others, I believe our ambition is less around a savings goal exactly, but rather conserving our resources during lockdown.

Commuting and socialising

I’m talking to people who are used to spending between £30-£40 a week on commuting. These costs have now largely diminished or even disappeared. By working from home, and generally staying home, people can expect to spend around £140 less each month on the daily commute. That’s before taking any vehicle maintenance into account.

Another cost that has been slashed is our socialising spend. Friends and families are using Facebook, Zoom or Houseparty to catch up. You can organise a quiz night for those who have internet access, or a just a drink and chat. If you’re in lockdown with the family, then you can get the games out that are only usually reserved for Christmas like Charades or Monopoly…so long as it won’t raise tempers too high!

Health and food

Gym memberships and health club memberships should have been suspended as they are all closed. If yours hasn’t sent you information about this, remind them. This time it is not your fault you are not using it – think whether you really need it and cancel it if you don’t. If you suddenly get the urge when you are back at work, you can always re-join.

People are also starting to take note of Jamie Oliver’s ‘keep cooking and carry on’ message. There’s never been a better time to start to cook from scratch. With minimal takeaway options available and no chance of eating out – which costs the average Brit around £700 per year – people can instead spend their time on exchanging cheap recipes. Think of the delight in finding new variations of things you have always cooked. This is the time you never thought you would have…

Hobbies and odd jobs

As money advisers, we usually recommend that a family of four budgets around £60 a month on hobbies. Now, enter this new world, where many of our pastimes are spent in the comfort of our homes. We can declutter, read books that we’ve never had the time to in the past or even take up the lost art of letter writing. Think of all the jobs you never got around to doing – they are becoming our new ‘hobbies’ – and many of them don’t cost a penny.

So many of the people that I’m speaking to have never felt luckier if they have a garden, or access to open space. We’ve had glimmers of beautiful weather recently that have prompted many people to take to growing flowers and vegetables from seed – they don’t need to cost the earth.

Utility bills

With all these opportunities to conserve our spending, we shouldn’t ignore that extra time at home is likely to result in increased bills.

Think about heating. You are home all day, so try to keep the temperature as it was when you were out at work. Don’t turn it up, unless you really need to, and maybe layer-up instead. Luckily, we’re coming into warmer weather, so this is becoming a little easier each day.

Looking to the future

So long as we concentrate on what we can conserve, and take this time to look inwards rather than feed any sort of grasping nature, we may find that at the end of this strange period, we’ve actually managed to get back in touch with our budgets and what we value spending our hard earned money and time on. With the right approach, these lifestyle changes, no matter how long they last, are very likely to have a healthy impact on both our purses and the environment.