It’s leading to what many are referring to as “revenge spending;” or making up for all the spending we didn’t do over the last 15 months this summer. The term gained popularity in China when the country began to return to normal after its early experience with COVID-19 as retail sales saw a massive spike in spending.

It has already been happening in the U.S. In March, retailers began to see a surge in spending, one that’s only expected to continue to rise through the summer. According to Bloomberg Economics, Americans saved an estimated $1.7 trillion from the start of the pandemic through January 2021.

Before you begin your revenge spending this summer, there are a few things to consider.

Take Stock

Just like before making any major financial change, it’s important to know where you are in your financial journey and what you have.

In this case, it’s a good idea to evaluate how you’ve been living and spending since March 2020. You might realize that there are things you’ve been living without that you don’t really need or miss. 

Also, take a look at what new expenses you have that could affect how much you actually have to spend and at any possible expenditures upcoming.

Identify your Pandemic Habits

The longevity of COVID-19 led to many of us building and developing new habits and behaviors. Some of these habits -- like doing more things at home, saving more money -- were good. Many of these habits  -- like using food delivery services and signing up for new subscriptions -- cost money. 

Now is the time to identify all of these behaviors and figure out which ones are beneficial and worth keeping, and which ones you should do away with.

Identify COVID changes

Many Americans had to change financial habits to help them get through the pandemic and quarantine, and now need to get them back on track.

For those who reduced contributions to your retirement savings plan, make sure you set it back to normal.

For those who reduced the amount they were paying toward debt -- be it loans or credit cards -- now is a good time to get back to your pre-pandemic plan.

Also account for student loans if you have them. Payments have been on pause during the pandemic and are set to resume on Oct 1.

Don’t restart bad habits

While we all started new habits, there’s a good chance we all stopped some bad ones during the pandemic too. As easy as it is to fall back into old habits, now is a good time to leave them in the past.

During the pandemic, many Americans limited their grocery store trips. Even when they did go to the store, they typically brought along a list and stuck to it so that they could get in and out quickly. That eliminated a lot of impulse shopping.

There are also probably some things you didn’t miss during the pandemic. What’s important is to figure out what you value and prioritize that and leave the clutter behind. It’s likely to leave you with some extra cash.

Set aside for emergencies

If there is one thing we all should have learned from the pandemic, it’s that we all need to have an emergency fund.

It’s a lot easier said than done for some, and that’s understandable. While it’s suggested that we have at least six months of expenses saved up at all times, in reality, every little bit helps.

Don’t go crazy

Here’s the big one. If you have saved money, if you have cut back and find extra income, don’t just go out and spend it all on things like eating out, events, and of course, traveling.

It’s ok to do those things, but do them slowly. Space them out. Set a budget and a schedule that doesn’t blow the bank, and that definitely doesn’t build up any new debt.

You’ll find that breaking up your plans is a lot more budget-friendly than trying to do and pay for everything at once.

It’s OK to Do Free Stuff Too!

There are plenty of ways to get back out there without spending a lot of money.

Bike rides or walks around the town, taking in local public art, or visiting museums. You could even donate your time and volunteer.

Utilize your community resources -- Chamber and city websites -- to find local events in your area.

Keep Spending on Self Improvement

If you are going to spend, one good area to do so is on yourself. During the pandemic, many Americans spent time and money on self improvement to help with career advancement or even career changes.

Now is not the time to stop spending on that. It's actually time to increase that spending. As the economy recovers, you'll be rewarded for it.