“Consumer spending is coming back with a vengeance,” noted financial expert at Forbes Advisor Laura Howard. The slow return of normality is a saving grace for many in regards to mental health and the prospects enjoying little things they once took for granted.
“For many, improved mental health and human interaction will be top of the list.
“But freedom brings with it some challenges too, such as renewed pressure on household finances.”
It’s no surprise that the easing of lockdown has accompanied an increase in spending, especially thanks to the multiple programs in place encouraging people to eat out and support businesses.
“According to Nationwide Building Society’s latest Spending Report, the number of transactions made in the second quarter of this year was up by 20 percent compared to the first quarter.”
Ms Howard continued: “And, based on a mind-blowing 566 million transactions, it’s a sample size that’s difficult to argue with.”
So how do you stop your expenses from getting out of hand whilst still enjoying the newfound freedoms on offer?
Ms Howard shared some of her best budgeting tips with Express.co.uk to help slowly integrate income back into normal spending habits.
Don’t spend unnecessarily on bills
“Some bills, such as council tax and water, are fixed which – unless you are in financial hardship – simply means finding the money.
“Many other bills however, can be chopped down to size just by comparing what’s on offer from other providers when you come to the end of your deal or contract.
“Further savings could be in store by switching your car and home insurance, broadband and mobile,” Ms Howard continued.
“If you have a mortgage, the market is currently offering some of the lowest fixed rate deals in history thanks to staunch competition among lenders, low interest rates and a post-pandemic buoyant housing market.
“You can start seeking out your next mortgage deal up to six months before your current one is due to end.”
Think twice about retail therapy
Sustainability charity Wrap conducted a survey which found that consumers are starting to turn away from disposable fashion with the majority of shoppers now considering the environmental impact of their clothes.
“UK citizens disposed of an estimated 67 million items of clothing over the pandemic, said the survey, as restless households turned their attention to clearing out cupboards and lofts. In other words, you don’t know what gems you might find,” Ms Howard said.
“If you need to satisfy an urge for retail, head for the charity shops.”
Be picky when it comes to credit
“Your credit cards may not have seen the light of day during the pandemic. But if they are now funding any increase in spending, it could be time for a review,” she added.
“If you are carrying a balance on your card from one month to the next however, interest can soon become costly.
“Moving your debt onto a zero percent balance transfer card will give you some breathing space to pay it off.
“If you are not carrying debt on a credit card but are planning some major purchases, a zero percent purchase card offers interest-free spending for a number of months.
“Again though, high rates of interest will kick in after this time, so be sure you have a means of paying off what you’ve spent.”
Ms Howard began: “Budgeting apps allow you to group all of your accounts together in one place making it easier to monitor your spending.
“They show real time transactions, allow you to set budgets, break your spending down into categories, and highlight any potential waste.”
Stay close to home
“If you have a job you can do from home, arranging a post-pandemic balance of home and office working will ease your monthly expenditure.
“A little home-working can be better for your health, too.
“Three-quarters of home-workers left home for exercise in April 2021, compared to just 52 percent of those travelling into work.
“If you started good habits like this during the pandemic, there’s every reason to keep them up,” she concluded.