If there’s anyone who can tell us where to find the light when it comes to the pandemic and our money, it’s The Penny Pal. Here’s a wrap up of this year’s learnings so far and how we take ‘em and move forward.

As lockdown eases off, it’s high time we take a moment to take note on how the pandemic has affected our cash. We weren’t able to prepare for the financial implications of COVID, but we can certainly prepare for it’s easing - as the financial implications will probably be lingering for longer than the actual virus!

Emergency funds are a must

If Coronavirus has taught us anything it’s that:

  1. Having an emergency fund is mandatory
  2. An emergency fund needs to be more than $1000
  3. If I had a dollar for every time I had heard the term “emergency fund”... I wouldn’t need one

Yes, we hear your cries as you read yet another article telling you that you need an emergency fund - we’re sorry! (kind of). But with 28% of US adults not having any saving at all and 36% of Americans having no savings for retirement we think the message is needed.

Our generation is probably never going to see a health pandemic like this again but there is no doubt we will experience emergencies that are equally as financially draining. Now, we are aware that saving for an emergency fund during a global pandemic might be like trying to fill up a bucket with water whilst there’s a hole in the bottom of it but, what you should be aiming to do is build a habit - once you have built the habit of savings, the world is your oyster (or at least it will be, someday). Start small. Like tiny small if you need, and you’ll finish big.


Buy now pay later? It’s a no from us I’m afraid

Hand up if you have ever been personally victimised by ‘buy now pay later’ schemes? Same. We get it, who wouldn’t want to have a little splurge and not see the money taken out of their account immediately – you’re human. It’s risky territory though, and as the pandemic shifts we are seeing online sales surge and BNPL businesses are reporting a 200%+ increase in customers in the third quarter with 1.1 million of those users coming from the US alone - crazy right?


This payment method has proved extremely popular with millenials with the main reason for BNPL usage gearing towards the idea of not wanting to accumulate debt, wanting more control over spending and wanting to avoid interest charges - which sounds great until you read stats stating that 43% of millennials who used  BNPL schemes in the last year missed at least one payment. Our stance on this? Educate yourself fully before using any financial product, there’s no piece of clothing or accessory that is worth your credit score (at least not that I can think of anyway). Don’t steal from your future self unless it’s absolutely necessary.

2020, the year the passport became absolutely useless

Now, I am not sure if we should mention travel or is that still a touchy subject for everyone? Let’s go with it, tough love. So, it’s January 2020 and you’ve just confirmed a holiday destination with your group of friends. The group chat is going off with excitement as the group admin (there’s always one) books the flights and accommodation. You’re eagerly awaiting the screenshot stating “flights confirmed” but wait, the group admin asks if you want to add travel insurance for $14.99 onto your booking.


Although you’ve literally just spent nearly $200 on flights and $400 on accommodation, $14.99 to protect your purchase just seems like a bit of a stretch. We won’t finish the story because you know how it ends and spoiler alert, ouch.

Travel insurance isn’t the most exciting purchase but boy did COVID teach us the importance of it and as I’m sure a lot of you have experienced. Not all airlines, resorts, cruise lines and travel agents are thrilled about providing refunds and with companies like American Airlines losing $70M a day it’s not surprising. Going forward, consider investing in that travel insurance - you really do never know.

The gyms are closed and we feel fitter… what?

It has come to light during COVID that spenny gyms are not the only way to keep fit. Anyone who has been within arms length of an Instagram live will now know that there are so many resources online that allow you to keep fit without the hefty price tag of a gym membership.

With gyms like 24 fitness losing roughly 1million in revenue it was vital for gyms to adopt the “pivot don't pause” method and turn their attention to social media and webinar platforms like Zoom. Beachbody did just that and experienced a 200% growth in subscribers.

Who are you more impressed with? Beachbody for their pretty sickeningly incredible growth, or Zoom who have managed to sit silently in the background of the pandemic and cash in on the new way of working?  👀

We seriously underestimated how fun picnics can be

Has anyone else interacted with their friends more during lockdown than they did prior? And ended up spending less? Yes, probably. We don’t have to spend a load of cash to enjoy each other's company. Huge news.

Perhaps this is the most valuable lesson of them all – to value time currency the same as we value monetary currency. And to spend it wisely.

On that note, if you struggled with your finances during the pandemic or learnt a lesson or two then don’t be too hard on yourself. As you’ve probably heard many times before - we are literally in the middle of a pandemic!  


Tweet us your big money lessons @meet_cleo and we'll give you some huge virtual support. Via gif, of course.