Ingredients for a Quarantine – March 2020 Expenses

March is usually the harbinger of spring, but this year the world got a wakeup call as it ushered in a new disease instead. Yet if we rewind to the beginning of the month, we only had a faint inkling of what would come.

First Week: Portland, OR and Santa Barbara, CA

In fact, March 1st I woke up bright and early in an Airbnb in Portland with one of my best friends. We went to a comedy club the night before, and got brunch in the morning. It’s fun to play tourist in my previous home city, and even better to hit up the epicurean enjoyments of the Pacific Northwest.

One of my favorite brunch spots called Le Petite Provence.

In the afternoon I dropped my friend off at the bus stop and headed to my hotel. Officially, I was in town on a work trip. Everyone was in the office on Monday, but we would see a steady decline in office attendance as virus worries and work from home advisories started to take effect. I worked until Wednesday, then took the rest of the week off to fly to Santa Barbara. I made the quick pit stop to visit Mr. Mechanic, who was working there the past three weeks on a medical rotation.

Although it was sunny and warm in Santa Barbara, there was a dark storm cloud rolling in: the news of the virus officially touching down on American soil.

A gorgeous day in Santa Barbara.

Cancelling Plans

After a short visit, Mr. Mechanic said his goodbyes and we hurried home. The shelves at the grocery store were empty of all paper products. A COVID-19 positive patient was already being treated at the local hospital where Mr. Mechanic works. We cancelled our weekend trip to NYC to visit one of my lifelong friends and go to a Broadway show. 

What A Difference Quarantine Makes

I already work from home, so my day-to-day life was hardly disrupted. Hardly, but for the infectious anxiety of scrolling newsfeeds and watching my partner put on his white coat before heading in to work at the ICU. I’m interested to see how much our expenses were affected this month. On one hand, I feel like staying home is the norm, but on the other, we usually fit in some fun things like that NYC trip or potlucks with friends.

Note: This is the spending for just me. I report expenses when I pay them, so you may not see insurance or other bills until the month that I pay them.

Item Amount Mechanic Musings
Rent $500  
Groceries $171 I was surprised that I spent more on groceries when Mr. Mechanic was out of the house. I suspect it is because there is no one to stop me getting all the fancy cheeses and extra treats at the grocery store.
Card Membership Fee $149 I dove in to do some credit card ‘hacking’ to get the Southwest Rapid Rewards points and companion pass. Admittedly, this might be a bad idea because I didn’t realize the fee wasn’t waived the first year like my other cards.
Gifts $30 It was our 11 year anniversary and Mr. Mechanic found a watch he liked that happened to be on sale. Score!
COVID-19 Donation $30  
HSA Inactive Account Service Charge $25 HSAs are notorious for their fees and hassle, and this is the first time I’ve truly been dinged by a fee I didn’t know about. Apparently since I switched to using my work HSA plan and haven’t made any trades in my personal account I got hit with a $25 fee.
Liquor $24 Restocked our whiskey and got a couple of bottles of wine.
Internet $23  
Yoga Class $14 Went to one class of yoga while in Portland. While in lockdown during the pandemic, I’ve been following Yoga With Adriene on Youtube for free.
Comedy club drinks $13 My friend picked up the comedy tickets so I picked up our drinks.
Restaurants $13 I ate out a lot while traveling on business, but those expenses are reimbursable. My only other meal out was while I was home, splitting some wings and pizza with friends.
Fuel $5 We rented a car in Santa Barbara which cost $10 between us to fill up, and all the travel back and forth from the airport was covered by work.
Total $997 This month is a good reminder that it’s important to be vigilant about fees that can quickly add up.

I’m pleased about coming in just under $1k as this feels like the base level spending while still being well entertained and happy.  

The empty paper aisle at the grocery store.

What About You?

How has your spending changed with the quarantine?

What do you do to keep busy?

What was your March like?

Share in the comments below!

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1 Comment

  1. March has literally tested my bare bones budget. I didn’t do anything except eat 😂. Which brings to the fact that I’m super jealous that your groceries expenses is only $171. I sometimes feel like a bear compared to people in the community.

    Cheers and stay safe!

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