The largest factor in our wealth creation, and our wealth protection, is our behaviour. How we choose to save and how we choose to spend are the habits that will determine if we are able to grow our money over time, or if we will erode it over time.
There are other factors, certainly. We can’t forecast all the transitional events in our life, nor precisely when they will happen – so attitude and external factors also play a role, but even these two can be considered influencers of our behaviour.
22Seven recently conducted research on the top 10 spending categories in the City of Cape Town (and certain out-lying suburbs and metros) to understand how the Black Swan of COVID-19 and lockdown influenced consumer behaviour in those areas. Whilst these are geographically unique they help us understand the trends in other major cities too and can help us find deeper meaning in our own spending habits.
Spending on groceries remained a top priority both before and after lockdown. This is partly because we can’t go without food, and also because they were the only stores which we could, and needed to, visit during the lockdown period. Two other consistent areas were on cellphone (and data) and transport costs.
Spending habits that dropped
Entertainment and takeaway meals pretty much zeroed out, but started showing more growth as industries opened up and lockdown lifted – but the caution of consumers has clearly played a role in reshaping this habit. With many informal traders and small businesses unable to operate, ATM and cash withdrawals also bottomed out. The fact that cash is a physical payment method, and the virus being contagious, and that ATMs require public touchpad engagement would have played a considerable role in the change of this habit too.
22Seven also said that: “Home & Garden and Health and Medical also dropped off the list completely post lockdown. Home & Garden spending decreased mainly because those who offered the services were not allowed to operate and many of us had time to attend to those services ourselves while we were at home.
You may [be] wondering how counterintuitive it is that spending on Health and Medical related expenses dropped off the list during the lockdown? Well, it boils down to two things mainly: firstly, the health-seeking behaviour of [those surveyed] would have dropped during the lockdown period. People would’ve put off any non-emergency trips to their healthcare professionals to avoid contact with people. Fewer trips to your doctor also mean fewer trips to the pharmacy, which equals less spending.
Secondly, people would’ve stocked up on their essential medication before the lockdown period started to avoid having to visit pharmacies, and increasing exposure to others, once the lockdown commenced.”
Spending (saving…) habits that improved
According to 22Seven, “Investments, Savings, Insurance and Card Repayments all climbed up the list. While there was a portion […] who saw a reduction in or lost their incomes completely, those who had stable incomes during the lockdown suddenly had extra money left over – mainly because they could spend their money on fewer goods and services.“
This proved to be a good habit-forming contributor as debt and card repayments increased and both long- and short-term investments were bolstered with the extra money that was available to those still earning salaries.
It’s helpful to take some time to review how big events have affected us, not just financially, but emotionally, relationally and mentally too. All of these will play into the habits that we form and reform around our wealth, and to our perception of value.
Some habits we may have forgotten through the trauma of an event and would want to work on again, other habits we may decide to release and form new ones that have greater meaning to us and our family.
If you’d like to read even more, here’s the link to their article: