How I'm Reworking My Budget to Plan for a Post-Pandemic Life

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With vaccinations on the horizon, it may be time to prepare for some big budget changes.

The coronavirus pandemic upended many aspects of life, and it also led to many changes in my budget.

Dining out and travel expenses largely disappeared in 2020, and I redirected that money to beef up my emergency fund as the world became a much more uncertain place.

Now, however, it appears there's finally light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccinations will hopefully soon be available to all adults who want one. And states are already starting to lift restrictions, which means that it may soon be possible to return to something resembling a normal life.

As a result of these changes, I've already begun making some big changes to my budget to prepare for post-pandemic life. Here's what they are.

Increasing my travel budget

After facing so many travel restrictions, we're all eager to get out and see the world again. My husband and I don't borrow money to go on vacation because we don't like to make our trips more costly by paying interest on them. So we'll need to make sure we have enough put aside money to cover our vacations.

As a result, we've started several travel savings accounts that we can use to take a few domestic trips and potentially travel abroad if Europe allows visitors in again soon. I've roughly priced out what these trips will cost and am contributing enough into my savings each month to hopefully cover my vacations by the middle of summer and early fall.

I'll also switch back to using my travel rewards credit cards, which have largely sat idle in a drawer this year.

Planning for more paid help

Over the course of the pandemic, we didn't want to have a lot of people in our house. We cut back on the time our house cleaner comes, and my only childcare came from my family members. This is challenging since I tend to work more than full-time hours, and I have an 18-month-old child.

Now, with vaccinations available, I am budgeting more for both childcare and other housekeeping services to take some of these tasks off my plate. These services tend to be expensive, but they can be worth paying for if they free up time to do more lucrative work -- which they do for me.

Some things that aren't changing post-pandemic

Although I'm making these two big adjustments to my budget in hopes of a new normal, there are some habits I've adopted during the pandemic that I don't plan to alter.

Reductions to my dining-out budget are probably going to stay, for example, as we discovered that we actually like eating at home. Not only is it much cheaper, but it's also healthier. And cooking is a fun thing we can do together as a family (while eating out with an active toddler can be less enjoyable).

I'll also keep my larger emergency fund since the coronavirus pandemic showed us just how quickly and unexpectedly life can shift. The massive and sudden changes underscored how important it is to be prepared for anything -- and to be ready to adjust your budget when expenses shift due to things outside of your control.

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