COVID-19 and the recession: Saving in a post-pandemic world

By Tara McCabe ·

As social distancing restrictions begin to ease in many countries, the question on everyone’s mind is ‘what will life be like in a post-pandemic world?’

Many people are still very cautious to leave their homes and return to offices, while others are asking whether or not we actually want to return to ‘normal.’ After all, what is ‘normal’? Cutting up the atmosphere with international flights taking off every minute? Squeezing into a packed train during peak time? 

Add to all this the fact that the COVID-19 lockdown has put a strain on economies all over the world, speeding up the inevitability of yet another global recession.

Saving on the daily commute

If there’s one thing the COVID-19 lockdown has highlighted, it’s that there are a whole lot of office jobs that could easily be done from home. Not to mention the savings that can be had from not having to pay for a bus or train fare five times a week. 

Let’s take Sydney as an example, at the very minimum if you were commuting by train during peak hours you would be spending $3.61 each way*. That’s $32.49 spent every week on travel at the very least. If you live further out from the centre you could be paying the best part of $20 everyday to get to and from work.

Of course there are also cons to working from home all the time, like seeing your work colleagues less and upping your electricity bill. But even if you were to work from home two or three days a week, you could still save yourself not only a bit of money but also the hassle of getting to the bus stop on time!

Flying less for meetings

According to a 2018 report by Roy Morgan, 2.2 million Australians flew for business in 2017. Hopping on a plane to go to a business meeting might be something you or your company wouldn’t have thought twice about a few months ago. However, with strict travel bans now in place, many companies have been forced to conduct business meetings via video chat.

Besides the obvious impact on the environment, frequent domestic flights can also set a company back quite a bit money wise and use up a lot of time. So if you’re a business owner, or you fly a lot for business, you might want to think twice before flying out for a meeting. It might just be possible to achieve the same results over a Zoom call.

Save by buying local

It has been heartening to see the number of people around the world rallying to support local businesses, struggling during lockdown. Support for small businesses has even been trending on social media with Instagram releasing a ‘support small’ tag on stories.

RELATED: Mozo’s 10 ‘Money Kindness’ tips to practice while social distancing

Plus, if you choose to buy local you will not only be supporting your local economy, but you can also be a little more confident that your purchases aren’t harming people or the planet. This is because while big corporations’ supply chains can be convoluted and harder to follow, smaller, local businesses tend to be a bit more transparent.

Once lockdown is over you might want to think about visiting your nearest farmers markets. One trick is to only buy fruit and vegetables that are in season. Supermarkets will offer stuff all year round, the catch being that when something is out of season the price will go up. So buying fruit and vegetables in season, from your local farmers market, could actually save you some dollars and cents.

Spend less, go plant based

The outbreak of COVID-19 has seen an increase in the number of people actively taking on or showing an interest in a plant based diet. In fact, market research company Markets and Markets projected that the plant based meat industry in the US would see significant growth by 2021 and news outlet Al Jazeera reported in April that sales of plant based meat is surging in Asia.

Not only does a plant based diet put less of a strain on the environment and involve far less suffering for animals, it can also be a bit better for your wallet. Now of course we’re not talking about plant based meat, which although pretty tasty can also be fairly pricey. No, we’re talking fruits, veggies, nuts, lentils, oats, rice and all other types of grain you can think of.

You can pretty much make anything you want to with plants, such as curries, dals, soups and cake! You’d be surprised at just how much you can do with a can of chickpeas (tip don’t throw the chickpea water away!). 

So even if restrictions are lifted in the coming weeks, let’s not forget what we’ve learnt. Here’s hoping we’ll be commuting less, taking fewer domestic flights, continuing to buy local and incorporating more veggies and less animal products in our diets. If you manage to do all of these things, you’ll not only be helping the environment and your local community, you’ll also be putting some money back in your pocket.

With all these long term savings, you might even want to think about setting yourself up with a high interest savings account. Compare interest rates at our compare high interest savings account page.

Compare high interest savings accounts - last updated January 16, 2021

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*Ticket prices specified on the Transport NSW website, correct as of 20 May 2020.

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Tara McCabe
Money writer

Tara McCabe writes across all areas of personal finance here at Mozo from banking through to insurance. Tara is expert at practical money tips, showing readers ways to live richer and be socially conscious while doing it. She earned a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Canterbury Christ Church University.