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In this video, Chelsea tells us which FOMO-related purchases to avoid after nearly 2 years of COVID fatigue.


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CHELSEA FAGAN: Hey, guys, it's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And if you have not done so already, please hit that subscribe button, and more importantly, click the join button to join our amazing society at TFD. You get all kinds of awesome things, including monthly office hours live with your girl. Come, ask any questions you want, talk to other TFD people.

We'll gossip, you'll see my dog, it'll be a moment, join. And today, I want to talk about what I think is one of the most important financial considerations coming out of this pandemic, which, I don't know, I feel like that goalpost is constantly getting moved as far as when we're actually coming out of the pandemic. But at least for me personally, I can say that my life has mostly resumed normalcy.

So I can officially put myself on the coming out end of the spectrum. CHELSEA FAGAN (SINGING): I'm coming out, I want my booster shot. CHELSEA

FAGAN: And that important thing to focus on is what not to spend on post-pandemic because you may be one of the lucky people who actually saved quite a bit of money during lockdown. Between April and June of last year, Americans socked away more than 25% of their disposable income, compared to 7.3% over the same period a year ago. Or maybe after a period of unemployment, you are back at a different and possibly better-paying job. Either way, if post-pandemic you find yourself with more disposable income than usual and a stress-induced urge to spend, or pandemic-induced spending habits to continue, it is important to be vigilant about your own spending habits.

Because as we re-emerge into a greater and greater sense of normalcy, there are more and more opportunities to spend and, especially with that feeling of oh, I haven't gotten to do this in so long, an incentive to go a bit overboard because so many things being available to you after so long of them not being available can cause your brain to feel legitimately overwhelmed. In his pop psychology book, The Paradox of Choice, American psychologist Barry Schwartz described how too many choices can be overstimulating and also paralyzing and can cause us to make decisions without considering all of the alternatives or consequences. So now is an excellent time to slow down, analyze our spending, and analyze the thinking behind that spending so we don't fall into these post-pandemic spending traps.

Now, I'm going to kick this one off with the same one I kicked off the spending after 30 video not too long ago, and that is a lot of alcohol. Now, I spoke in the last video about how buying cheap alcohol, which is something that happens a lot in our 20s, is something to avoid, pretty much unilaterally, as we get older. Because honestly, most Americans could probably stand to drink a bit less, and buying higher quality stuff basically forces your hand into doing that, among other reasons.

That cheap wine is just gross. But even if you're buying really good stuff, chances are, post-pandemic, you may be buying too much of it. And now that this is a time in which we are all getting to go back out again, have parties with friends, attend weddings, meet up in bars, and do these things that we were deprived of for so long, there can be an extra incentive to go a little overboard.

Because consuming too much alcohol has consequences for both our money and our health, the irony is drinking actually increased quite a bit during the pandemic despite our limited social lives. According to a Rand Corporation study, stress from the pandemic resulted in a greater amount of drinking from women but not men. Women were also found to have increased their heavy drinking days by 41% during the pandemic.

And a survey by Harris Poll found that millennials spend an average of $300 per month on alcohol in a non-pandemic year, which is already a lot when you're not also adding on to it the post-pandemic feeling of everything is worth spending on. We're not saying you have to be totally dry, but taking a close look to the amount and the frequency with which you are spending on alcohol is incredibly important, post-pandemic. Mix it up, buy some weed.

Number two is personal training, diets, fitness plans, or other get your pre-pandemic bod back spending. According to the American Psychology Association, 61% of Americans reported unwanted weight changes during COVID. 42% said they gained weight at an average of about 29 pounds per person. And let's be clear, there is no shame in gaining that quarantine 15, or 20, or 30, or whatever it may be.

Your body got you through a pandemic. It was a once in a lifetime, incredibly stressful situation. Give yourself a break because gyms were closed and eating blocks of cheese sometimes was the only thing that made us feel better after an incredibly-depressing day looking at a Zoom screen while sirens went off around you.

But let's be clear, if losing weight is a goal for you, there's nothing wrong with that, either. But pouring a lot of money into the act of losing weight is a common trap that Americans fall into, and it's especially predatory right now with the diet and fitness industry being incredibly aware of the fact that many Americans may not be feeling great in their bodies right now and are willing to spend to feel at least like they're addressing the problem. ballparks the cost of a personal trainer at $40 to $70 an hour.

Meaning two hour-long sessions per week would equal $250 to $400. There's also services like Noom, which cost $59 a month, while the most sustainable way to find a healthy lifestyle is to ease into something that works for you at a rate that works for you. An all-or-nothing approach is part of the reason 80% of people who lose significant weight don't maintain that loss for 12 months.

Perhaps you can find an affordable gym near you that works into your schedule and lifestyle, or simply make some swaps with how you eat that coincide with cooking more at home and being more conscientious about the ingredients you use. But we often, as Americans, fall into the fallacy of thinking that if we throw a lot of money at the problem of changing our bodies, that will make us accountable to doing it. But decades of data shows that is not the case, no matter how much the post-pandemic weight loss marketing is bearing down on us from all angles.

Give yourself permission not to spend a ton of money on what are ultimately unproductive and unsustainable weight loss methods. Number 3 is a new vehicle. Now ignore this if your current vehicle suddenly burst into flames, as my old vehicle once did, or you suddenly had to move from a place where you didn't need a car to one where you do.

But if you were looking at buying a car simply because you're not as comfortable on public transit as you used to be, or it just feels like it's time for an upgrade, this is an opportunity to pump those brakes, a ha. Vehicle prices have risen largely due to supply chain disruptions and production slowdowns. In September, the price of an average new car was more than $45,000, which is up 12%, year-over-year.

And even used cars have been affected by price increases and inventory shortfalls. Used car dealers' supplies have fallen short because activity that usually leads to those dealerships getting stocked, including trade-ins, lease returns, repossessions, and cars that formerly served as daily rent-a-cars are down. Now, the average used price is sitting at about $25,000, up more than $5,000 from the same period a year ago.

And inventory is expected to catch back up by 2023, meaning that if you can wait for a new car, now is the time to wait for that new car. Because if you buy it now, even if it's pre-owned, you are likely to be overpaying. Number 4 is a pet.

Now, we all know that I love my daughter, my human daughter, Mona, who I gave birth to out of my very body. I am always supportive of people being on their pet journey with asterisks. Because let's be clear, the fact that I had my actual, literal human child Mona during the pandemic, especially during the long months where I was separated from my husband due to immigration issues, did nothing short of save my sanity.

But the truth is a lot of people kind of picked up on that during the pandemic and went out and got themselves a pandemic pet, which, on aggregate, was bad. Unfortunately now, according to Best Friends Animal Society, owners returned pets at a rate 82.6% higher in 2021 than in 2020. I won't go into detail, but I saw an article a couple of months ago about a woman who adopted a dog that she was clearly not prepared for into a living situation that was not adapted to that dog's needs after not owning a pet before, and, after a couple of months of that dog exhibiting anxiety-induced aggressive behavior, put the dog down because she claimed no one else, including the adoption service, or I guess sanctuaries, would have taken the dog, which seems extremely dubious to me.

But I read that, and it stuck with me for days. I was like this pandemic has made people feel like pets are just a thing that you go out and get for fun. And we'll see if it works out, and if it doesn't, we'll just give it back to a shelter that will likely have to euthanize it, or I'll just get it euthanized.

Listen, I eat meat. I'm not an animal rights activist, but Jesus Christ, what is going on in people's minds? Because being a pet owner can be a transformative and beautiful thing for humans, but it's also something that is an incredible responsibility.

I'm sorry, but in my opinion, you are not getting a pet, you're getting a new family member. Treat it as such, and most importantly, understand that in the case of a dog or cat, you're looking at 10 to 20 years of commitment to this animal, meaning that you have to be pretty clear that not only is your life today adapted for it, it's adapted for it long term. A lot of people got pandemic animals when they were working from home, and now that they've returned to the office, have given them away because the animal is no longer adapted to their lifestyle.

This makes you a bad person, and pets are almost always more of an expense than you realize, even rescues. So pandemic or not, a lot of consideration and planning has to go into it. According to Money Under 30, annual costs for dogs can run from $380 to $1,170, and cats can run anywhere from $430 to $870.

Considering the rehoming statistics right now, at least wait a while before you get a new fussy friend. Number 5 is vacations just for the sake of them. Now of course, vacations and travel, more generally, are something we all missed.

So it's understandable to want to get back out there and hit the ground running. However, vacations and travel, more generally, are already expensive, and in this time, these prices are only going up. The number of Airbnb listings has dropped year over year, and with higher demand, comes higher prices.

Some also increased their minimum required days of staying. For example, between March 2020 and May 2021, Airbnb locations in Jersey City saw their average minimum stay rise 195% to 20.8 days. In the first quarter of 2021, Airbnb stated that, although its overall business had decreased, daily stay rates of participating properties rose an average of 35% year-over-year.

And for air travel between April and May alone, airfare rose 9% for domestic travel and 17% for international travel. And while costs aren't back to pre-pandemic levels yet, there is a correlation between the demand for travel and the price of airfare, and the same goes for hotel prices. Plus, in the US, retail gas prices are also at a seven-year high.

And beyond that, traveling can still, in a lot of ways, be cumbersome like the absolute Greek mythology level journey I had to go on to get my frickin' COVID test in Quebec City that then nobody at American customs even bothered to look at. So being choosy with your travel right now, not jumping at any given opportunity, but really selecting the trips that are right for you, that are not price gouging you, and that fit into your overall lifestyle is incredibly important. Number six is a massive wedding.

Now listen, I understand the risks that come with the territory of wading into wedding waters, but it does bear repeating at this time. Just because you can have a massive wedding, doesn't mean you should, especially now. Even pre-pandemic, the cost of weddings had steadily been rising.

And according to The Wedding Report, the number of weddings in the US is expected to jump by 50% this year, due largely to the backlog of canceled weddings in 2020. Once again, rising demand equals rising cost, especially as vendors look to offset what they lost during the pandemic. In October 2020, more than 200,000 couples owed a collective $3.7 billion on weddings canceled due to COVID, according to a study from online personal lender Loanry.

So if you've already lost money in that regard, although it can be tempting to just double down because you feel like you got robbed, it's important to really take this time to consider how you can make the make-up wedding, or the post-pandemic wedding, generally, as cost effective as possible. And the easiest way to do that is to trim that damn guest list. Now, I know that everyone's not going to be as extreme as me and have a 30-person wedding, but post-pandemic, do we really still need 200-person weddings.

Do you know 200 people? I don't know 200 people, and I have almost 1 million subscribers on YouTube. Number 7 is a new wardrobe.

Whether you're going back into the office, you want that post-pandemic refresh, or you're a totally different size after being quarantined, the desire to get an all new wardrobe is at an all-time high. In March, when vaccination rates hit a crucial threshold, clothing stores saw sales rise by 18.3% in the US and 24% in Canada. The top five items driving purchases included t-shirts, jeans, active pants, coats, and non-sports bras.

Of Canadians age 28 to 34 surveyed by NDP group, 28% said they're completely overhauling their closets post-pandemic and plan to wear only new clothing. But again, just because you can doesn't mean you should. If you have clothing items that sat through the majority of 2020 and 2021 not getting a lot of wear, that means that, frankly, there's no reason you shouldn't be wearing them to the office, to a restaurant, or to visit with friends.

A complete overhaul won't just cost you a lot of money. It's also statistically likely that most of it will eventually end up in a landfill. So going out of your way to do a thorough closet audit, removing to donate or recycle absolutely everything that is not an a-list item, and only selectively opting for the items that will complete a capsule wardrobe is the better way to do it.

It's understandable to look at a post-pandemic closet and just have that feeling of oh, I hate everything, but chances are with a few new additions and especially removing all of the things that you don't love, you'll feel like you have a whole new look with only buying like 10% new items. Number 8 is self-help books and seminars, except for The Financial Diet, available we're all fine books are sold. It is no secret that mental health hit an all-time low during the pandemic because during the pandemic, four in 10 US adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders, up from about one in 10 during 2019.

And unfortunately whenever mental health is precarious, that presents an insidious opportunity for the self-help and self-improvement industry, which as of this year was valued at $10.4 billion. While live events and motivational speaking spending decreased during COVID, spending on self-help books, especially audio books, increased. The self-improvement audiobook industry was valued at $541 million this year, an increase of over 20% year-over-year.

And the pandemic also saw high sales for books about trauma, such as The Body Keeps the Score and What Happened to You. And the problem is often that these books don't address what people have actually gone through over the past year. Because while The Body Keeps the Score and What Happened to You are insightful books about the nature of trauma, psychology experts say that what they cover doesn't really address the psychological effects of the pandemic, but the average American doesn't understand enough about psychology to know that.

And as for self-help books and seminars, many of those are dubious at best. Michael Ungar, a professor of social work, author, and the Canada Research Chair in child, family, and community resilience says the self-help industry has failed miserably because it puts all too much responsibility on individuals to change their circumstances. And that is, quote, incredibly victim-blaming.

If you want to change your mindset post-pandemic, you are better off not buying those slew of self-help books and seminars and investing in actual therapy that can address the reality of what you're going through. This is a reminder, as always, to check and make sure to what extent your insurance, if you have it, covers therapy and to check out free or affordable therapy resources in your area. My friend put together an incredible living Google Doc that goes through just that.

I'll link you guys in the description. Number 9 is luxe lounge-wear. Lounge-wear was already on the rise, pre-pandemic, with iconic lounge-wear looks being supported by people like Gigi Hadid or Kim Kardashian and statistically, millennials spending more time at home compared to their parents' generation.

But throw in 18 months of working at home for many adults, and you've got the birth of a brand new cottage industry, which is upscale lounge-wear. But now that we're out of this post-pandemic haze, it's important to remember that fancy lounge-wear may be amongst the most ridiculous things to be spending a lot of money on. UK-based lifestyle brand Derrick Rose sells micro-modal men's hoodies for 183 pounds, or about $245 US, or women's PJ sets for 154 pounds, or about $207 US.

Now, there is nothing that says that you can't treat yourself to a bit of luxury every now and again, but spending a ton of money on clothes that are basically, literally, made to be slept in and can't functionally be worn outside of the home, basically commits you to dedicating a serious portion of your wardrobe budget to the least functional pieces of clothing in your closet. Now, there's nothing wrong with getting a nice matching PJ set, but that's a good thing to do at a TJ Maxx, and sometimes you can get, honestly, pretty good stuff there. Investing in higher quality pieces makes sense when it comes to things like outerwear, shoes, or the clothes that you have to wear to work every day.

A cashmere snuggie just ain't it, honey. Lastly, number 10 is an air fryer. And I'm sorry preemptively to the air fryer hive because you guys are intense and scary.

If you started cooking more at home during the pandemic, that's awesome. It's a great habit that a lot of people picked up during the pandemic and hopefully, will carry on through the rest of their more socially-adapted lives. But one of the biggest traps with getting into cooking is feeling like you have to spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on various gadgets that ultimately you don't need.

And one of the most divisive home cooking tools of the past several years has been the humble air fryer, which, for a good quality unit, can run you easily over $200. And here's the thing, an air fryer doesn't automatically make the food that you're eating healthier. Yes, it is healthier than deep frying, but often, you're talking about results that could just be achieved by roasting at a high temperature.

They also require quite a bit of dedicated cleanup. If you really want the exact same results, convection ovens are usually cheaper. Although again, most of these recipes can actually be achieved with a normal oven you likely already have.

And here's the thing, if you really are going to use an air fryer quite a lot, I give you permission to buy one, but actually challenge yourself to have several instances, I don't know, maybe five, six in a quarter, where you find yourself roasting something in the oven to approximate the texture of an air fryer and are like damn, I wish I had an air fryer. Then you can go ahead and get one, like if once a year you're making kale chips in your oven, just continue making them in your oven. You don't need an air fryer for this.

Just because they're everywhere doesn't mean you need one. And as always, guys, thank you for watching. And don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for new and awesome videos.