by Brianna Condilenios, SFU Student
The pandemic has brought an onslaught of financial hardships for many. Job loss to small business struggles only skim the surface of these challenges. However, with fewer places to go and fewer things to do for students, financial stress can be relieved as there are greater opportunities to casually save money.
For students who used to drive frequently, this does not need explanation; gas, parking passes, and potential repairs are expensive. In addition, most public tasks can, or have been, made virtual. Everything from speaking with a counsellor to weddings can be done from the comfort of our favourite pajamas. The time and money previously spent on transportation can now be put into working or resting.
Working and learning remotely from home also means eating out less. Naturally, whenever we are out, we tend to purchase whatever food or beverages are needed to sustain us until we get home. Sometimes this is a frantic coffee in the morning, or a small sandwich around 4 p.m. to power us through our last lecture. I’ve always tried to bring as much food as I’ll need for the day. However, I can’t think of a single semester where I did not forget my lunch, or just needed a little extra purchase to nourish my brain.
Likewise, socializing at restaurants, cafés, or bars is rare these days which means there is no longer social pressure to spend money out. Our friends calling us to various weekend brunches, Friday nights out, or coffee dates is just not a thing anymore. When these opportunities do surface, it is more than reasonable to decline them on the basis of safety. Additionally, this means other than purchasing casual and work clothes, there is no need to keep updating our wardrobes frivolously as there are simply not as many places to go.
Many students would rather not think about these costs, but they do exist. Being aware of them can help us move forward in a more financially-conscious way. Of the money students spent on eating out, clothes, and travel pre-COVID-19, what can they put that money towards now? Paying off student loan debt? Saving up to move out? Investing the money in the stock market? The possibilities are endless.