Our Instagram feeds have been overflowing with photos of people cooking, showing off their #WFH setups, and even sharing productivity tips. For over two months now, the nightmare that we’ve come to call “The Lockdown” has forced people enabled people to follow new trends and pick up new habits.

Even amidst all the doom and gloom of the pandemic, there’s a silver lining that starts at “Turns out I can cook” and ends with “Turns out I can live without that.” And while it’s clear how these habits have padded our wallets right now, it’s worth talking about which of them are here to stay and if they can help our finances in the long run.

With 20-somethings from the country getting more serious about securing their finances, we figured now’s the best time to look at four important habits that we have formed during the lockdown and see if (or how much) they will benefit us in the months and years to come.

Work, home or work-from-home

“I would spend anywhere between Rs.125-200 a day cabbing to work. Being able to just save that much everyday is doing wonders for my bank balance.” – Rohini, 24

#WFH has been a dream-come true for some; a tough change for others; and a choice for no one. But two months on, we’ve learnt to make the best of it. Some of us even have a squeaky new whiteboard right at home!

Whatever your story, the benefits of working from home are pretty clear at this point – meetings don’t overrun the way they used to, commute doesn’t take up hours of your time and half your energy, and the money you save is just a cherry on top…and a potentially huge cherry at that.

The long-term change

  • Employees don’t have to worry about time and money spent commuting – meaning you get more of each
  • Companies can now access talent pools that are unconstrained by the office’s location, while also saving on rent and other expenses
  • With prominent companies like Twitter and Shopify making it clear that employees can work from home indefinitely, we’re only scratching the surface of this new normal
  • Even if companies haven’t jumped onto the bandwagon, they’re likely to warm up to the idea of letting employees #WFH more often 

Is this trend here to stay: Likely

Impact it will have on your money: Significant

We’re all cashing in on staying in

Turns out grabbing a drink every weekend isn’t the only way to chill with friends. But it is the ideal way.” – Ritwik, 27

We’re finally beginning to realise that it wasn’t the “cost of living” that was high, but the “cost of lifestyle” that led to our month-end financial woes. Over the past two months, we’ve not only learnt to cook for ourselves, but have also reeled in discretionary expenses like pub-crawls, movies and shopping – and we’re still alive and kicking!

The frugality of this stay-at-home lifestyle has allowed us to save more over just the past two months than any of us would have thought possible. But let’s face it – we’re not all about to turn into penny-pinchers overnight. Because in a fist-fight between being frugal and being social, our need for togetherness dictates the winner.

The long-term change

  • While a lot of us will continue to hone our new-found culinary skills, we’re not likely to stop ordering in from our favourite restaurants or catching up with our friends at the pub
  • We might be a lot more open to grabbing virtual drinks or whipping up some Dalgona instead of ordering Starbucks when the gang comes over, but the human need to socialise and have fun together means our expenses will remain about the same
  • Our take – newly formed habits will complement long-held behaviours. Our social lives though will largely go back to the way they were – in due time.

Is this trend here to stay: Unlikely

Impact it will have on your money: Not very significant

The mountains called. We’re yet to answer.

I can’t wait to travel again. Maybe a year from now. That gives me plenty of time to save up too!” – Ayesha, 28

Yes, we’re all wondering about when, if ever, we’ll be able to kick back on our favourite beach again. Or trek through the clouds in the mountains. Or enjoy the nightlife that Goa has to offer. But while daydreaming about that perfect vacation is natural, tourism isn’t about to go back to normal any time soon.

That said, there’s not many things in the world that can keep a millennial from satisfying their travel cravings in the long run. So while travel plans stay on a hiatus at least for the coming months, this is time that we could all use to save up for the next big trip – whenever that is.

The long-term change

  • Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, predicts that in the wake of this pandemic, “Travel is going to shift: It’s going to be smaller, more intimate, more local.”
  • This is not surprising, because a big international trip would involve so many risks – like long flights with common facilities, new accommodations every few days, and tourist attractions that can quickly turn into hotspots for people from all over the world. You’ll probably end up worrying about your safety more than enjoying the vacation.
  • However, traveling is a core part of the millennial generation and once we feel comfortable and safe enough to travel again, we’ll be back to our old ways

Is this trend here to stay: Unlikely

Impact it will have on your money: Slightly significant

From making money to growing money

Stop sipping money out of my SIP.” – Aniket, 26

Yup, that’s me. But I don’t have it half as bad as the people who have either had to take significant pay-cuts or been laid off altogether. It’s at times like these that you realise the importance of saving up and why “Beta save karo” is objectively better advice than “Live everyday like it’s your last.”

All of this uncertainty and the fear of “could I be next?” has forced us to take a long hard look at our bank accounts and get a little more serious about planning our finances. This isn’t a trend or a new habit, as much as it is a moment of truth – money matters more than we care to admit.

The long-term change

  • Most of us are witnessing a full-blown crisis and seeing our wealth erode so swiftly for the first time ever. And like they say –  crisis brings clarity.
  • We finally understand the importance of the “mutual fund investments are subject to market risk” disclaimer
  • While the importance of building our savings is more obvious than ever, growing our money through investments is the next step
  • And there are early signs proving this point – retail brokerages have reported a 50-70% jump in new demat accounts!
  • Most importantly, COVID-19 has shown us exactly why learning to fish pays off much better in the long run than being handed a fish at the end of every month

Is this trend here to stay: Highly likely

Impact it will have on your money: Very significant

***

There’s no doubt that these are tough times for many. Whether you’ve taken a pay cut, lost your job or been a victim of the turbulent economy, you’re bound to feel the pinch in the short term. But that’s where the silver lining comes in – the habits that we’ve formed over the course of this lockdown can benefit us in the long run and help us more than balance out some of these losses.

These habits don’t have to live and die with the lockdown, the way our current woes should.


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