You’re reading a series that I started during the coronavirus quarantine shutdown of New York State.
I wanted to document what’s been happening in the local metropolitan New York area to provide anthropological observations during this global pandemic and what’s been going on in my life in terms of some key financial and non-financial aspects.
You can start at the beginning of the series here.
Week # 14 Covid-19 Personal Finance Journal
It’s been 14 weeks since Governor Cuomo ordered New York State to go into quarantine on March 22, 2020 where non-essential businesses have to shut down and everyone is required to wear masks when out in public.
Some background info
We live about 30 minutes outside of New York City in the suburbs.
My girlfriend and I got our own apartment during covid-19 because we found a really good deal.
We’re small business owners of an essential business.
We moved in to our apartment!
The rent is $1200 a month, utilities included.
Wifi is $40 a month so that’s about $1240/month to live near NYC, not too shabby.
We’re close to the waterfront so it’s nice to be able to jog by the water every day.
We’re currently working on figuring out how to compost in our 300 square foot apartment (27.87 square meters) to reduce landfill waste.
Because we are living in a small apartment within our means, we have some money left over to save weekly toward eventually buying a home/rental property and to also eat as organically as possible.
I set up an automatic withdrawal of $275 from my weekly paycheck into my Ally Bank savings account to save toward monthly rent while accruing interest at the same time (double win).
Even though rent is $1200 a month, and my $275/week equals about $1100/month, I split the rent with my girlfriend $600/$600 so the remainder goes into a “house buying fund” where we are saving up money to buy either our first house or rental property.
This method is working so far so good.
We sent out our first check for July rent no problem.
I also made it $275 instead of a round $300 even though I could pull that off because I had originally done $300 a week but didn’t have any money left over at the end of the week for any sort of fun or de-stresser from our 80 hour work weeks.
So my girlfriend recommended that I allocate a portion of the fund toward fun.
Right now, I am allocating $25 a week toward fun in any way I want, from buying books, or ordering takeout, beer, movies etc.
So far that $25 a week has been helping me stay sane during covid with no gym etc.
I’ve also started working out at home for free from watching youtube videos on bodyweight workouts and ab workouts etc.
I’m probably going to cancel my gym membership for the rest of the year because it looks like we’re going to get a big second-wave of Covid in the fall once flu season hits.
Won’t be needing the gym for a while.
Almost everything is open again and everyone is outside!
Summer in full affect, a lot of people are doing outdoor activities now, and a lot more people are not wearing mask even though its still mandatory in NY to wear when you go outside.
I remember reading that small backyard pool companies are making good money during covid because people can’t go anywhere for public pools like they normally do.
Also noticed the gardening section at Lowe’s and Home Depot have a lot of empty shelves because everyone is gardening because they can’t go anywhere.
Florida had a spike in covid and some speculate that it’s because of New Yorkers who went to Florida…
New York cases have dropped to the point where we’re in phase 3 out of 4 for reopening.
Barbershops and nail salons are able to reopen again to 50% capacity after being closed for over 3 months.
Restaurants are able to do 50% capacity indoor dining again.
I saw that Arizone, Texas, and Florida are now spiking a lot in Covid cases so who knows where that will lead us in terms on public policy.
Are we able to save money from not hanging out with friends during covid?
Initially I think we were able to save up decent money because everyone understood we’re not hanging out together in public or meeting up for several months etc.
Then we got an apartment during covid because the rent dropped because a lot of people were moving back home to live with their parents because they lost their jobs or couldn’t afford rent anymore etc.
And my girlfriend and I have been wanting to get our own apartment for the past year since living with my parents to save money.
Since moving into our apartment, we’ve had to spend money on kitchen appliances, utensils, furniture, parking etc.
But the productivity and increased monetary gain from said productivity of having our own place more than outweighs the cost of rent.
What do I mean?
When we were living at my parents’ house, we were helping them out with $200 a month rent to help cover our costs of electrical/water/mortgage etc.
But the commute to our jobs were 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back.
That was a combined total of 2 hours for my girlfriend and me.
In our new apartment, we’re only 5 minutes away from work for a combined total of 20 minutes of driving.
With that freed up 1 hour and 40 minutes of not commuting everyday, we’ve managed to create more passive income generating streams, get more sleep, get more work done for our essential business, and workout more.
Overall we are now happier and healthier because of our new apartment.
So yes, even though we had to pay $1200, up from $200 a month, the benefits far outweigh the cost.
Looking at debt seriously in the face
With our own apartment, we’ve had the peace and quiet of coming home after a long day of work to be able to sit down and reflect on our day, decompress, plan the day ahead, and also take a real good look at our finances.
My girlfriend wrote down all of her debt, every single one, from credit cards to student loans, and planned a course of action to pay it all off within the next two years or so based on current income.
The goal is to pay toward it weekly so you can “cut the head off the interest snake” faster because interest is accrued daily on your debt.
If you pay your debt more often, the interest is cut more often.
So instead of paying $400 toward a credit card once a month, we pay $100 per week toward the card.
Haven’t done instacart in a while
The batches offered haven’t been all that great on Instacart but that’s just an excuse.
While I like instacart more than Uber because it’s active and physical and you get to walk a lot without having strangers in your car, I most of the time find it grating on my soul because as an entrepreneur, I am always looking for ways to scale my time, energy, effort, and resources instead of just working for an hour to make an hour’s worth of money, usually about $20 on instacart in my area.
So instacart has taken a backseat while my girlfriend and I are really focusing on expanding and building up our business to be able to make that extra $100-400 a week that we would have been making doing instacart.
And we enjoy it more this way.
Which is why I asked the question a while ago “should you only do side hustles aligned with your core values?”
The answer is more nuanced than a simple yes or no answer but this isn’t the time nor place for that.
Go read the short article and ponder 🙂
So there are pros and cons to this Covid quarantine.
I’m not able to see my friends as often as I’d like but we manage to Zoom video chat every now and then, or phone calls.
I’m not spending as much money eating out or drinking because I’m not catching up with friends physically at a restaurant, bar, amusement park, etc.
However because of moving into an apartment, costs have gone up momentarily as we furnish the new place, make some renovations etc., but we expect our home-associated costs to go down once things are situated and set up.
I haven’t really fallen prey to impulse buying things on Instagram, Facebook, Amazon from ads during Covid even though they make good ads.
Once the impulse takes hold, I ask myself, “Do I really need this?” and “Will it bring me joy?” and the answer is usually “NO!”
You can also read my article on when I applied the sparkjoy KonMari method to stuff I purchased, it’s really helped me reign in my spending and it could help you as well.
Let’s see what the future holds!
As always, I try to greet each day, each week, each month with pragmatic optimism and try to appreciate and be grateful for my friends and family, my business and community, the health, wealth, love, and joy of life that I have been given.