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What doesn’t kill you makes your bank account stronger.
New Yorkers have saved upwards of $5,000 on average — among the largest amounts nationwide — since coronavirus lockdowns began in March 2020, a new study shows.
Telecommuting and stay-at-home orders that slashed everyday work-related expenses and social spending resulted in Gothamites with full-time jobs amassing $475 in average monthly savings. New Jersey workers saved $410, according to the survey by CreditNinja. Nationally, working Americans have averaged savings of $329 monthly over the past year, with Alaskans topping the list at $654 and Louisiana pocketed the least with $149.
Beyond being forced to cut back on commuting, meals out and social life expenses like concerts and Broadway shows, many metro-area residents tightened their belts as a “precaution,” fearing bad economic times.
Here are a few locals — middle-class and upper-middle-class earners — who saw pandemic dividends:
Dr. Alden Cass
Pandemic monthly savings: $1,600
“I have only been in my office once in the last seven months since I can work remotely,” Cass said.
Cass said that some clients have grown to love remote coaching sessions and he expects he will continue to save money once things return to normal, since he plans to continue working from home two or three days a week.
“Besides that, operating from home has another benefit,” he added. “It is much easier for me to go for a long, enjoyable run during work breaks.”
Pandemic monthly savings: $3,500
Cerrone, 30, readily admits that she was a lavish spender pre-COVID: $20 each day for lunch and $300 on a monthly gym membership. Dinners out with friends several times a week. Frequent and expensive vacations. Regular tickets to wellness and spiritual events, as well as Broadway shows live concerts and more — plus Ubers back and forth to all of it.
“In 2019 and in early 2020, I took vacations to Australia, Hawaii and Jackson Hole, Wyoming,” said the executive at Kindbody fertility center in the Flatiron District.
Then came COVID. “The pause on my New York City lifestyle — because of the shutdowns, travel restrictions and working from home — caused me to spend much less,” said Cerrone, who is single.
Before the pandemic, Cerrone had accumulated about $20,000 in debt. But now she has paid it all off. (Getting a government-mandated temporary break on her student loan payments also helped.)
And while she misses big bustling crowds and sipping coffee with friends in her favorite coffee shops, Cerrone said going back to her old habits, including frequent shopping, doesn’t hold the same appeal.
“I’m not interested now in the latest fashions,” the Murray Hill resident added. “Instead, I would love to keep saving and buy a house in the next few years.”
Pandemic monthly savings: $400
For Llewellyn, a 37-year-old industrial designer and artist, it’s the little things that added up.
“There are much fewer spontaneous coffee purchases and snacking,” now that she works from her Crown Heights home studio rather than going to clients across the boroughs. “I almost never have to leave my neighborhood, which means I no longer have to pick up lunch on the go.”
She also hasn’t needed a Metrocard since last March — which has ended up saving her $137 a month, while skipping gym classes has meant an extra $50 in her pocket.
Llewellyn, who is single, has really missed one thing, though: attending American Ballet Theater performances.
“With the savings, I will try to get the best seats to performances once they start to open up,” she said. “And my biggest splurge will be a trip abroad. I am really looking forward to international travel.”
Pandemic monthly savings $620
Working from his Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ, home is nothing new for Healy, a self-employed media manager. But the 57-year-old used to have to travel to Manhattan a couple days a week for client meetings, lunches and events — regularly costing him $270 each month in bus fares and $250 for meals.
Besides that, he’s now saving $100 a month in dry-cleaning, since there is no need to press his pajamas. And, Healy said, there have also been incalculable health savings since the pandemic started.
“On the bus you certainly feel the road and the fits and starts,” he said. “It takes a bit of a mental and physical toll on you over time.”
Healy’s wife, Victoria, a market research analyst, has also cut back on the trips to her office in New York City, helping the family save even more.
Still, that newly freed up money isn’t just sitting in the bank.
Said Healy: “I have two kids in college. That’s where my savings are going.”
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