It Took a Global Pandemic to Change My Spending Habits
I’ve been forced to face my most persistent fear: my finances
If you wanted to sum up my complicated 37-year relationship with money in just one word, that word would be “triggered.” I’d break out into a peculiar kind of cold sweat whenever I logged into the Wells Fargo app on my phone.
I didn’t grow up with a lot. In my twenties, my bank balances were often negative, so I didn’t even bother checking them. My diet consisted mostly of pasta and frozen peas, and it was a coin flip as to whether or not my lights would turn on. The vast majority of my income went toward drowning my sorrows at downtown Buffalo dives while loading the jukebox with Wu-Tang Clan.
But even later on, as I started earning a solid income as a freelance writer, my financial strategy hadn’t changed. It was always “don’t ask, don’t look.” I told myself that all I needed to do was make so much that I couldn’t possibly spend it all, which I mostly succeeded at. I figured this is just the way I’d live.
Then came Covid-19. With the constant barrage of dystopian news, my mind immediately switched into scarcity-driven panic. I asked myself, “What do I have to do to make sure I can survive on my own for as long as I need to until our country devolves into some combination of Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and The Walking Dead?”
My list began with the one task I’d been avoiding for years: Take inventory of my bank balances. So I did. I got out my phone, clicked into Wells Fargo app and braced myself. Forced to look at something I didn’t want to — like the news coming out of the White House or your colleagues’ unkempt mugs on yet another Zoom call — I noticed a few things that I needed to mitigate immediately.
1. Wow, do I have a lot of recurring subscriptions
Spotify, Netflix, Roku, The Economist, Quartz, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the ACLU, the Humane Society, WordPress (who even uses that anymore?), GoDaddy, Anytime Fitness, Progressive Insurance, HBO Now, Hulu, Showtime, Squarespace for the website I’ve never built. I took a deep dive into my transaction…