Monthly Money Mistake – March 2020

This month was difficult for me to reflect on my money mistake – the cost of not being prepared.  There is a lot going on in the world right now and personally, there have been a lot of changes for me and my family.  All of this upheaval has taken a lot of my energy and mental focus.

There is now a new normal which I think many people, myself included are adapting to. I am continuously trying to rely on my routines and systems to help my day to day feel a little more normal.  One of these routines is to review my expenses monthly, something I am proud to report I continue to do.

And on the note of routines and systems, reviewing my monthly money mistake is now slowly becoming more of a routine.  Even though there is a lot of other things going on right now, reviewing my monthly money mistake makes me feel like things are still slightly normal.

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Financially I think I do a lot of things well but there is always room for improvement. The monthly money mistake series is a place where I can highlight a mistake from the previous month.  Provide follow up from previous months’ mistakes.  And record action steps for improvement in the future.

Hopefully, this series helps to also inspire you to be more mindful.  In the end, it doesn’t matter what specifically you are spending your money on.  The only thing that matters is that you are aligning your spending with your values.

This month’s money mistake revolves around the cost of not being prepared.

Last Months’ Money Mistake Follow Up

But first, let’s take some time to reflect on last month’s money mistake – not keeping up with vehicle maintenance.

Well, I’m happy to report that this was definitely not an issue this month.  Due to the pandemic, I’m currently working from home and rarely drive my vehicle at all. 

Once again this is making me contemplate going down to one vehicle. And although I know that we could swing it now with only one of us working out of the home and running errands, when things go back to “normal” it just still doesn’t work.

So, maybe I have done a good job of keeping up with vehicle maintenance this month.  But I’m also paying for a vehicle that I’m barely using.  The good part about that is that we own the vehicle outright so no vehicle payments here.  And the price of gas is ridiculously low so we aren’t spending much on fuel either.

The Mistake

Okay, let’s get to this month’s money mistake – the cost of not being prepared.  The month started off like any other month. I was making good progress with my 20 goals for 2020 and collaborated with Mrs. Miller of Millers on Fire for a mindful money week challenge on Instagram.  

Then a week into March, everything changed.  

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A global pandemic was declared, and although I knew what was going on in other parts of the world I was naïve in thinking it wouldn’t get that bad here.  It did, things got much worse and today still continue to increase exponentially.

People started hoarding supplies like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes.

Prior to this, I had prided myself on our minimalist lifestyle which included not keeping a ton of extra food in our pantry.  And I will admit, due to my naivety it took me longer than it should to realize that I should be prepared for this pandemic.  I wasn’t just a single 20-something anymore, I had a family to consider.

Waiting too long

So I went to stock up on a few of the essentials and to prepare for being home for a few weeks. I did not hoard or over buy anything that we would not be needing in the short term. 

The problem with my strategy is that I had waited too long.  Some of the things on my list were no longer available, and other items were much more expensive than they had been previously.

I love a good deal and have written a few times on how to save money in general and especially on how to save money at the grocery store.

My supply shopping trip now ended up costing me much more than it would have if I had been prepared.  I’m not saying that I want to amass a massive stockpile. But we could definitely be more prepared in general. And being more prepared in advance would enable me to buy things on sale and reduce the cost of not being prepared.

The Lesson

Prior to this pandemic outbreak, I had never really thought about being prepared for an emergency.  Yes, I have a strong emergency fund, but there are also other ways to be prepared for an emergency beyond just financially.

I am now taking this extra time to research and learn about other things that I should be prepared for. One of my new objectives is to compile a family emergency preparedness kit.  I’m still not 100% sure what I will include in this but it’s an important step to take.

The big lesson here around the cost of not being prepared is that not being prepared can come with a high price; financially and otherwise.

Monthly money mistake - March 2020 - the cost of not being prepared.  Learn how you can save money by avoiding this money mistake. #handfulofthoughts #moneymistake #beingprepared #savemoney

Action Steps

Moving forward there are a few action steps that I plan to take to be prepared for any future emergency:

  • Research family emergency preparedness kits
  • Create a list of what to include in our personal family emergency preparedness kit
  • Compile our personal family preparedness kit
  • Give myself some grace for not always getting the absolute best deal when I go shopping (especially during a pandemic)

If you have any advice for how you were prepared for this pandemic I would love to hear it.  As crazy as things are right now, I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the current situation.  I plan on taking some time to regularly reflect on these lessons.

I will not make the same mistake twice, I have learned my lesson on the cost of not being prepared.

What was your money mistake this month?

6 thoughts on “Monthly Money Mistake – March 2020”

  1. When I started to realize how bad things could get (around March 13) I decided to do a stock up – not a huge shop but made sure I had enough for 1 to 2 weeks. I bought an extra inhaler (still haven’t opened it yet but will soon) and bought a few more shelf stable staples than I normally do. I did spend more on a few things but I managed to shop for what I needed without feeling too panicked. I did some reading on what to make sure I had available and did a thorough search of the cupboards and said “if I absolutely had to” how long could I live on what I had. The answer was probably 1 month but I’d hate everything I had by the end of it!

    I have been eating at home more and eating up what I have. My food waste is way down so I think I am learning a few lessons there as well.

    As for an emergency kit, there are some great resources out there and the main advice is – 72 hours of supplies in case you can’t leave your house and need to wait for “rescue”. The one thing that I don’t typically keep but everyone should is cash. If there is a major service disruption e-cash may not be available and having cash on hand can be a major help.

    1. I’m glad that you had more forethought than I did Pam. I naively just kept thinking it wouldn’t impact me or get this bad. I’m feeling much more prepared now, and just hope that this doesn’t go on for too long.

      Thanks for the tips on the emergency supplies and cash is smart to have around. I might have to keep some in our safe in case of emergency.

  2. I feel your pain—it’s pretty tough to go shopping these days. So many things are constantly sold out. It’s an exercise in frustration!

    But on the bright side, it’s also a good lesson in flexibility. We’re finding ways to make do, and in the end, it’s mostly working out.

    Fortunately, I always stock up when there are sales, so our pantry, freezer, and utility room were nicely stocked. (Though not overly so—just enough that we had one or two extra of our core staples.)

    It’s definitely not a minimalist way to live! But it worked out for us in this situation.

    I hope things will improve as the weeks go by, and that our supply chains will adapt to the changes. Good to hear you and your family are doing okay. Stay safe!

    1. Chrissy – as much as shopping is an exercise in frustration, I think it’s also becoming an exercise in patience.

      The little one and I are self-isolated and because hubby is still working he is the only one who interacts with others. I’m usually the one who does all the grocery shopping but now hubby has been doing it. He is definitely learning patience and appreciation for running errands.

  3. Hey Maria

    Like you, we decided to stock up when everyone else did. The shelves were empty of the pastas, tp, wipes etc etc. Here we are now and you can get everything but lysol wipes. =)

    I plan to stock up on food more when its a great deal and maybe start keeping an emergency fund for situations like this.

    Don’t beat yourself up, little learning lessons are better than a stockpile of toilet paper =)
    Have a fantastic Easter.

    1. Thanks, Rob. This experience is definitely helping me to show myself some grace. As a self-proclaimed “perfectionist” this has been a difficult lesson to learn. Thankfully, we don’t have an oversupply of tp:)

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