essential vs non-essential spending

Essential vs Non-Essential Spending: 3 Lessons Learned in Quarantine

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned from times of crisis, it’s the difference between essential vs non-essential as it relates to business, employees, and even spending.

I’m no stranger to staying at home. Since I quit my banking job to work as a licensed Realtor® and blogger, I’ve been working from home.

Summers are always more difficult because the kids eat me out of house and home, and it seems like we’re all stress eating right now.

When I first started working from home, I found it difficult to manage my time. How much time should be spent creating content, creating new graphics and images for Pinterest, and promoting on social media vs networking with other business owners?

The struggle is real, y’all. So in the beginning, I shopped quite a bit. I’d go into town (I live out in the country) to workout at the YMCA and justify a trip to Target, Meijer, or TJ Maxx (my personal fave) because I was “saving gas” by only driving into town once per day.


It’s easy to rack up credit card debt and accumulate stuff you don’t really need when you’re bored and lack focus and direction.

Now that I have some experience and have learned some lessons while working from home, I’d like to pass those on to you.

Just because most shopping malls and outlets are closed doesn’t mean you can’t shop online, so let’s talk about that.

Side Note: If you’re out of a job currently and stuck at home needing to make money, check out my How to Start a Blog post.

I consistently earn between $3,000-$4,000 per month on this blog, and if you have any knowledge or skills whatsoever, you should be sharing that with the world and getting paid for it.

Learn How to Start a Blog of Your Own Here.

Essential vs Non-Essential Spending: What’s the Difference?

Obviously, if something is essential, it’s necessary. It’s deemed more important than the non-essential.

Your essentials include:

  1. Food
  2. Shelter
  3. Transportation
  4. Utilities

This is also known as four walls budgeting. Everything else could be considered non-essential (or at least not equally important).

Of course, you have to be able to pay for childcare in order to work, but the basic essentials every single person/family needs are clear.

Lesson #1 – You Need a Budget

Not only do you need a budget so you don’t overspend, but you need a budget to survive.

Many folks are going to be struggling for years (not months) to recover from this economic mess.

In just two weeks, over 10 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits.

They were just living their lives, minding their own business, and something completely out of their control knocked them on their butts.

Creating a budget can help you:

  • Save more money
  • Pay off debt fast
  • Put food on the table
  • Possibly avoid foreclosure or eviction
  • Make on-time payments and avoid credit problems
  • Provide a sense of security for yourself and your family

Lesson #2 – We CAN Live on Less

I think we’ve all come to realize that we can live on less than we’ve become accustomed to.

How many times have you said, “I’m bored! There’s nothing to do”? Then, you ended up shopping and spending money on things you probably didn’t even need.

I am constantly getting rid of things that don’t spark joy. This is called the KonMari method of decluttering.

It’s nice being able to choose from a few different staple wardrobe pieces vs having to go through mounds of clothes that either don’t fit anymore or you fell out of love with years ago.

I’m tossing everything that fits into those categories. If I lose weight, I can always treat myself to a few new staple pieces later on.

Think about what you truly need, and consider using this time to do some spring cleaning.

Lesson #3 – $1000 Isn’t Enough

If you’ve listened to some financial speakers, you know about the $1,000 starter emergency fund.

The idea is that you save $1,000 and then pause retirement and focus all efforts on paying off debt using the debt snowball method.

The problem with this program is that many people fail to follow through, and they’re even worse off when disaster strikes.

They have the best intentions in the beginning, but sometimes it’s hard to get a spouse onboard, and the gazelle intensity fizzles out.

I’ve already mentioned how important it is to have a budget, but here are 3 other priorities:

  1. 3 Months Emergency Fund
  2. Debt Paid Off
  3. Diversify Income

I know this is easier said than done.

If you’re looking for a step-by-step plan to help you get back on track financially, my Better Budget Blueprint course is a great place to start.

It teaches you how to prioritize your savings and debt payoff goals so that you can successfully accomplish goals, one paycheck at a time.

It’s a great solution for those looking to save more money, pay off more debt, and become financially secure (without eating beans and rice or taking a 9-week course).

It features short video lessons and bonus modules that you can listen to from the comfort of your home.

And we all know we’re not going anywhere (at least until this quarantine is over), so we might as well get comfortable and start working towards our financial goals!

You can check it out by clicking here.

Always remember that the most difficult part of budgeting is making the decision to get started!

One of the most important things I’ve learned in quarantine with my family is the way we operate day-to-day can change in a heartbeat.

I don’t know about you, but I’m done with the excuses. It’s time to finally pay off the debt, save the money, and live better than ever.

It’s your turn! What’s the #1 financial goal you’re going to work towards now that you have clarity?

2 thoughts on “Essential vs Non-Essential Spending: 3 Lessons Learned in Quarantine”

  1. Great tips! I would just add that while budgeting is great, it is the ‘tracking’ part of the budget process that is critical. Budgeting is aspirational, but tracking is retrospective, and allows you to fine tune and make decisions going forward based on real data. The problem is that it is extra work, and most people don’t want to do it.

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