Revealed: What Kiwis are saving money on thanks to COVID-19

New Zealand dollar notes with face mask.
A silver lining of the pandemic is that people have kept more money in their pocket.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing widespread uncertainty but as a silver lining, people are saving money.

COVID-19 alert level restrictions have been tough for businesses, particularly retail and hospitality. But for many consumers, they have provided the opportunity to cut costs. 

With the country now back in COVID-19 alert level 2, Newshub asked three Kiwis to share what they saved money on and found extra trips to the supermarket, running a car and buying pre-packaged goods were common themes.

"Mine was not going to the supermarket every time I thought I needed something. I did a thought-out shop and topped up fresh items from the greengrocer as needed. This way I used up everything I bought in the previous shop," Kylie said.

"When my husband took a voluntary pay cut during COVID, we took our car off the road. I since decided to get some money together to pay an orthodontist bill, so we're keeping it off the road until November," said Katrina.

"I had lots of fun learning to cook and try new recipes. Making things from scratch is often cheaper and healthier than buying (e.g. hummus, biscuits and desserts)," Julie said.

Accountant and money mentalist Lynda Moore said for her clients, COVID-19 lockdown brought greater awareness of what things cost.  

"For example, going out for brunch and paying $50 for two, they weren’t really aware that that is what they spent.

"The question now is, 'how often do we want to do that': it's about quality and service and it being an experience," Moore said.

Three tips for making COVID-19 lockdown savings a habit

For those who cut back on spending during lockdown and want to make those savings a habit, financial adviser and host of the 'NZ Everyday Investor' podcast Darcy Ungaro has three top tips.

1. Examine your bank statements

Take the total spending pre-lockdown and subtract your total spending during lockdown. After doing this, it should be clear where wastage occurred and what is truly essential.

2. Set up an automatic payment to a separate bank account

To decrease visibility and remove temptation, remove funds for discretionary spending (including savings) out of sight.  

Set up and label savings accounts for specific purposes (e.g. eating out, gifts, travel). Do this as soon as you can to avoid 'leaking money'. Spending should be purposeful, not passive.

3. Cash is king

Avoid repaying cheap mortgage debt until you have a cash buffer that can help you ride out any future storms. 

Sure, it would be great to make extra KiwiSaver contributions and mortgage payments, but only after you have ensured there is a decent buffer in place.