- Melissa Petro is a freelance writer based in New York with her husband and two young children.
- During the pandemic, she adopted new spending habits that have worked well for her family.
- Petro says she now supports more local farmers, invests in quality kitchen equipment, and splurges on fresh flowers.
According to a recent report by Axios, America’s spending habits are reverting back to pre-pandemic ways. Not so in my household.
While I’ve always considered myself relatively frugal, I started spending money in what felt like “luxurious” ways once the pandemic hit. Blame cabin fever or existential dread; it was also a fact that — thanks to pandemic unemployment insurance — I had a little more disposable income.
Now, even though things in my community are relatively back to normal and pandemic unemployment benefits have come to an end, my spending habits remain the same. Because I realized that what felt like splurges were actually relatively modest purchases, and because of these products and services dramatically improved my life, the following pandemic spending habits just might be here to stay.
1. I stockpile cleaning supplies
While I’ve definitely never been one of those toilet-paper hoarders, at the start of the pandemic I did pick up a couple extra bottles of bleach spray, sanitizing wipes, and everything else we’d need if someone got sick. Eighteen months later, I’ve kept up the habit. I love never running out of dish detergent or laundry soap.
2. I support local farmers
When the grocery store in town shut down, I started patronizing a hyper-local delivery service called Two Birds Provisions. This past spring, I became a patron. This means that I get a cooler full of locally grown produce, butcher shop items, and other locally produced goods delivered weekly straight to my door. Everything is super fresh, I’m supporting a family-run business, and it all costs less than what I’d spend at the supermarket.
3. I have a flower subscription
When I signed up as Two Birds patron, I went buck wild and tacked on a weekly flower subscription. It feels like a total indulgence, but a bouquet of locally grown flowers and foliage delivered weekly from the Parcel Flower Co. costs less than a large deluxe pizza — and fresh flowers seriously brighten a home.
4. I regularly refresh my wardrobe
My kids get an entirely new wardrobe every six months; you’d think I’d splurge on at least one pair of matching socks! Not so until last fall, when I looked down at my COVID wardrobe and realized it was time to retire the bleach-stained sweatshirts, house dresses from when I was pregnant, and worn-out leggings with holes in the crotch. Now, every time I shop for my kids, I pick up some new gear for myself as well.
5. I’m amassing a collection of actual pajamas
Back in December 2020, the Washington Post declared that pajamas are having a moment. I couldn’t agree more. Instead of falling into bed every night in a t-shirt and sweats, last Spring I surrendered to my inner granny some time and began amassing a collection of cotton and flannel nightgowns similar to this amazing number (with pockets!).
6. I hire household help
As if a global pandemic wasn’t stressful enough, last July I was hit by a car while crossing the street. Miraculously, I was mostly okay. But a fractured wrist made completing housework nearly impossible, so we hired a housekeeper to take over most chores. Sure, it isn’t cheap, but in situations when you physically can’t do something, or when time is truly of the essence, it’s well worth the money to hire outside help. These days, we keep our housekeeper’s number on file in case of emergencies, and — just as soon as we were vaccinated — we put Biden’s child tax credit towards hiring the nanny of our dreams.
7. I’m investing in kitchen gear
Months of eating in put my love of cooking to the test. It also tested my cookware. The past year or so, we bought at least one new pot, and invested in actual glassware (although I still prefer drinking out of an old jar). But my favorite culinary purchase so far? A KitchenAid mixer to indulge my inner Stepford wife. Brand-name stand mixers are notoriously pricey, but you can find one for half the price like I did if you shop secondhand.
8. Skin-care products galore
If it sounds like I started spending a lot of money on me, that’s only because I didn’t used to — ever. Now, thanks to the pandemic, caring for myself has become the norm. Take my skincare regimen, for example: infrequently washing my face has morphed into multi-step routine that includes a liquid exfoliant, Retinoid serum, and this Vitamin C serum recommended by the dermatologist that does my Botox — and oh, yeah, I started getting Botox, because you can’t hide your “elevens” behind a face mask.
We’re extremely fortunate that the pandemic has left us with more discretionary income instead of less, and I’m happy to spend it by supporting local businesses as well as treating myself. It shouldn’t take an existential threat to invest in new underwear or adequate childcare, but here we are.