lifestyle

2021 is the year of financial FOMO as we all spent our lockdowns as ‘ants’ or ‘grasshoppers’


Don’t feel like all is lost if you didn’t save during lockdown (Picture: Getty Images/fStop)

How did you spend your bank holiday weekend? Drink in hand Friday, scared to look at your bank balance by Monday?

You’re not alone, and as things have began to open up we’re all seeing just how expensive a social life is.

We’ve all spent almost a year indoors (punctured by the odd picnic or Eat Out to Help Out meal) and are coming to the harsh realisation that our lowered costs during lockdown aren’t a permanent thing.

Some people managed to keep their jobs during the pandemic and squirrelled away the excess they’d usually spend on commuting, socialising, and general activities that couldn’t be done in lockdown.

Others – and there’s no judgment here – saw financial hardship through job loss or reduced income from furlough, or decided ‘hey, it looks like the world is ending, why not treat myself?’.

That’s left a gap between the grasshoppers and ants, with the former (like in Aesop’s fable) focused on the here and now and the latter ready to enjoy their saved spoils.

Grasshoppers will see their ant friends heading off to a festival here and getting their nails done there, while they wonder where they went wrong and try to play catch-up to have fun.

Unlike in the fable, though, this doesn’t mean grasshoppers have to live in shame and be shunned by your peers. It represents a chance to get serious about money.



The Ant and The Grasshopper

A Grasshopper that had merrily sung all the summer, was almost perishing with hunger in the winter.

So she went to some Ants that lived near, and asked them to lend her a little of the food they had put by.

‘You shall certainly be paid before this time of year comes again,’ said she.

‘What did you do all the summer?’ asked they.

‘Why, all day long, and all night long too, I sang, if you please,’ answered the Grasshopper.

‘Oh, you sang, did you?’ said the Ants. ‘Now, then, you can dance.’

From Fables of Aesop

James Andrews, senior personal finance editor at money.co.uk, tells Metro.co.uk that you shouldn’t focus on the FOMO element, but look to include everyone in plans – regardless of how flush they are.

‘Firstly, no one should feel like they can’t go out and socialise, and you should always be able to treat yourself,’ says James.

‘However, it’s important to be realistic about how much you can afford to spend when you’re planning a night out, before you agree to do it.

‘Secondly, it’s important to talk. Explaining money’s tight, saying you’re saving up for something or trying to get back on track after a difficult lockdown, could completely change the options.

‘Remember, we’re allowed to have people round to our homes again now too, and heading to a house for dinner, drinks or a barbecue – or meeting at the beach or park now the weather’s finally improving – is a lot cheaper than hitting town.’

If you’ve managed to convince your ant pals that you don’t need to spend to have fun, the next step is getting on top of your savings.

James recommends the ‘envelope method’ for doing this, which is when you divide wages into different envelopes. Money for bills, food, and other expenses goes in first, with spending money in a different envelope.

Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and seeing exactly how much you have can help to show you how outlandish you can go with your plans.

Since Covid, cash isn’t exactly the norm, so James recommends using tools on apps like Monzo and Starling to get saving virtually this way.

Get your finances in order with some simple switches (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The next thing he says to do is to switch your suppliers for bills, if possible.

He says: ‘If you’re on a variable rate tariff for your gas and electricity for example, try switching to a fixed rate tariff to potentially save hundreds of pounds over the course of the year.

‘To make it more rewarding, why not transfer the difference between your old bills and your new bills into your ‘fun’ envelope?’

As well as this, if you signed up to any subscription or streaming services during the pandemic – we get it, it was very nice to have a treat arrive or watch our comfort shows – it might be time to cancel.

Since we’re no longer in lockdown, cancel anything that you won’t use or get much enjoyment out of.

‘Odds are, at least one, if not more of these services haven’t been used in months,’ says James.

‘So if it’s not essential, get rid – transferring the cash to your fun fund instead. That’s money you could be spending out with your mates.’

These simple switches can be done in minutes. Plus, if you switch your bank account to one offering a joining incentive, you could even make money.

James says: ‘It’s always worth checking to see if there is an offer you are eligible for. The process is relatively pain free and they move all your direct debits for you.

‘Done right, all this means you can head out for entirely guilt-free drinks again, knowing you’re not spending more than you can afford, and after a few months there might even be enough put away to help pay for a holiday too.’

Financial FOMO is real, and we’ll all get it at some point.

But, use it as an opportunity to streamline your spending, so you’ve got cash put back for rainy days as well as sunny beer garden ones.

If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

Do you have a story you’d like to share?

Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.


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