Silver [coined] linings

Cian Dunne discusses how government restrictions have led to money saved in lockdown

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Looking back on the nationwide lockdown of March, April and May, many of us might have developed mixed feelings towards those weeks spent cooped up at home. Any mention of Tiger King or Toosie Slide is likely to elicit a strange nostalgia for that initial period when it seemed like, for maybe the first time in our lifetimes, the world was as one. We were curtailed but together, in a somewhat peaceful communal solidarity. Not disregarding the untold suffering caused by Covid-19, it was forgivable that people felt a bit upset at their lives being put on hold for the prolonged period. Yet, it was also a time full of opportunity; a time to read widely, binge freely, run fitfully, bake adventurously, or, just as valid, sleep excessively. And all those books you read during lockdown, those TV shows you binged and those songs you discovered are likely to serve as future aides-mémoires of that period in your life. Aside from these memories, a more tangible result of lockdown was the money we saved. It turns out that being deprived of all those things we would usually spend our money on saved us quite a bit of money.

When we first exited the lockdown and emerged out of our caves for the first time, it was quite amusing to see certain people for the first time in months, and even more so, to see the new shape their heads had taken. Indeed, with no prospect of reaching your favourite barber, people had a decision to make. Some opted to embrace the unruliness and allowed themselves to grow their hair longer than ever before, disregarding their previously held notion that their fade required essential maintenance every two weeks. Others decided enough was enough and took the clippers into their own hands. Though it left some of us looking like Sideshow Bob, lockdown saved us quite a bit of bob on haircuts at the very least, while also showing us a side of ourselves we might otherwise never have had the courage to discover.

“A break from alcohol leaves your body thankful, and so too your bank account.”

A break from alcohol leaves your body thankful as well as your bank account. During lockdown, there were none of those impromptu trips to the pub; you know, those nights beginning with the acquiescent agreement of one pint, which turns into two, and then three. Before you know it, you’re eating a kebab on the side of the street at 3:00am and it’s a you’ve-lost your-left-sock-kind-of-night. You would no longer wake up with the fear the next morning knowing that all dignity that you once possessed was potentially lost the second you mustered the courage to squint at your phone with gritted teeth and one eye open. A full lock screen of notifications was a bad sign, but now for the worst of it: you open your mobile banking app, each red figure in your statement pushes a shrouded memory to the surface. There’s you at 2:10am last night, earnestly insisting that another round of shots for all, at your expense, is the best possible idea that one could conjure at this very moment, and that €30 out of your account right there, that’s the result of your intoxicated genius.

Zoom calls and quizzes with friends were all the rage at the beginning of lockdown, until everyone realised they’re really not that fun and that they’d just rather not. Though there was not the same social justification of a night out to get unseemly drunk, there was still a temptation, or at least an excuse to drink. The first port of call might have been to raid your parents’ cupboard and empty it of all the drinks that had been resting untouched for years and that you would never have purchased for yourself. The old reliable cans or a favourite bottle of wine were added to your parents’ Saturday morning shopping list while you slept soundly at home. TikTok tutorials exhibited the perfect method of pouring a Guinness can into a pint glass. It wasn’t quite a creamy one at the local, but it was better than nothing and it worked out that bit cheaper.

“The loss of live music in a club setting is a shame, and the ubiquitous live streams fall well short of a comparable equivalent.”

The pandemic has spelled the end for the nightclub for the considerable future. Hundreds of sweaty, inebriated free spirits sharing a dance floor just isn’t compatible with even the most lenient of social distancing measures. The loss of live music in a club setting is a shame, and live streams fall well short of a comparable equivalent. Though they should really be deleted off your phone already; you’ll have no need for Vipsy or Guestlist this year. There’ll be no first years rushing from the Luas to get into the perplexingly and already lengthy queue for Dtwo at 11:30pm just to make cheaplist, or, if you really had your affairs in order, the elusive guestlist. You won’t have to opt for O’Reillys for the upteemth time because their free entry just couldn’t be ignored when weighed up against the other clubs which have the audacity to charge for your presence. And that’s before you even start to talk about drinks once you get inside.

Restaurant and café owners have experienced changing fortunes alongside the move to reopen the country post-lockdown. Thousands of businesses throughout the country were severely impacted by the nationwide shutdown which began in March, losing out on unthinkable amounts of profit. When eating out became an option again, many people found that this was their best chance to socialise with friends. Still somewhat wary of visiting each other’s houses, customers saw restaurants as the perfect place to enjoy a nice meal, drink and conversation within a clearly defined two-hour sitting. But those substantial meals don’t come cheap, particularly not to one working within the confines of a student budget. And so, this habit had to be curtailed nipped in the bud, so to speak and it was time to crack out the Delia Smith cookbooks again.

“ Lockdown made it easy to avoid discretionary expenditure on clothes, books and other material things, because, obviously enough, the shops were closed.”

These are the confessions of an online shopaholic. Lockdown made it easy to avoid discretionary expenditure on clothes, books and other material things, because, obviously enough, the shops were closed. However, this may have driven some people to an increased use of online shopping. The usual suspects, Asos and Amazon, were tempting and oh so efficient as always. We also tried to support Irish businesses, though Depop was a great outlet for sustainable and low cost fashion. Less damage to your bank account and to the environment is a win-win situation.

It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. Now, we find ourselves back in lockdown again. Sure, the measures are not quite as stringent as the first iteration. It’s a far cry from the severe but serene scenes of April, but it’s still not what anyone would have hoped for. What will become the hallmark cultural moments of this lockdown remains to be seen. And though money isn’t everything, you’re likely to end up saving a little bit more of it again. Whether these savings remain as such, or whether they will serve to facilitate a post-lockdown spending spree of epic proportions, well, that too remains to be seen.

Cian Dunne

Cian Dunne is the Student Living Editor, and a Junior Sophister student of English Literature and Russian.