The world has been completely changed because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. It has become a time that is a little uncertain for many, and a lot of people are working from home, all the while having the kids off school. People are losing jobs, which can be stressful, and it can be a tough time for a number of reasons. Adding financial problems into the mix isn’t going to be a good combination either.
When the whole family is at home much more, it can be tempting to shop online more, order in takeout food, and just generally spend. However, if you’re not too careful with yourself, the costs can quickly spiral, which isn’t a good thing in the current situation of things right now. So to make sure that you are in control of your spending, you need to think about spending less. Because you are at home more, even if lockdown measures where you live are easing slightly, there are actually plenty of ways that you can save money. Whether you’re strapped for cash and every penny will help, or you just want to use this time to boost your savings, it can actually be a good time to do it. It is a definite silver lining of this whole situation. So with that in mind, here are some of the ways that you can save money and spend less in lockdown; every little does help.
Cancel Subscriptions and Memberships
If you have had things like lessons or swimming classes cancelled because of the health crisis, then some providers may have frozen memberships, so that you are not paying for something that you aren’t able to use. However, not all providers are going to be this generous. This is why you need to think carefully about what subscriptions or memberships that you have, and if you are still paying them. Do you have a gym membership to cancel or freeze? How about something like Netflix or Amazon Prime? Although those things can be handy when you’re at home more, you need to think if you can really afford to spend that extra bit of money each month.
You may have some annual passes to somewhere, such as a local tourist site or even for somewhere like Disney World. It is worth getting in contact with those providers to see what their plans are. If you can freeze the membership, then at least you won’t be paying for it, for the time that you are unable to use it. If you can extend it, then fair enough. They may have an option to help you to cancel it, though, so it is definitely worth checking.
Check Your Insurance
Due to the current situation, you may be using things like your car insurance less and less. It can be a good idea to check with your insurer to see if they will give you a break with it, as you can prove that you’re not using your vehicle. If you are using it, but only very occasionally to go and get groceries, for example, then it could be worth getting in contact with them to see if you can alter your policy, and in turn, reduce your payments. By doing this, you will be able to save money each month. This could be used for something else that you need right now, or put aside for your savings.
It can also be a good idea to get in contact with your home and auto insurance providers, as well as health insurance providers, if you have any policies that are coming up for renewal. Things may have changed in a big way for you, because of the virus and the lockdown. You may not need to have car insurance anymore, for example, as you won’t need your car as you’ll work at home now. You may need to adjust your home insurance to allow for work laptops and equipment that is now at home, for example. So if you are due for renewal and any policies, shop around to find the best deal. You’ll be likely to save money, especially if your situation has changed somewhat because of this new normal.
Re-Evaluate Your Budget
If you have lost your job, been furloughed, or taken a pay cut because of a reduction in hours, then it will mean that you will no longer be able to stick to the budget that you have set or been working to previously. Less money coming in, means that things need to change. Luckily, a lot of mortgage providers have been quite lenient at the moment, understanding that many people, through no fault of their own, are going to be earning less. So if you need to, look into payment breaks. If you’re making bi-weekly payments, you may be able to temporarily extend that to monthly payments instead. Remember that by doing so you will extend the end payment date of your mortgage, so make sure you think this through. You do need to sit down and look at what is coming in now, and what your outgoings are. Generally, your outgoings are likely to be a lot less. However, knowing the specifics is important. One key way to be able to take control of your finances, is to make sure that you are in a good position financially, now, and in the future.
Your new budget will help you to know what you have left for groceries and your bills, and if there is anything left over to save, or to clear debts with. This will hopefully just be a temporary measure, but anytime income changes, you should re-evaluate your budget.
Cook Your Food
If you want to save yourself some money during this time, then take advantage of having a little more time at home so that you can cook meals from scratch. You can meal plan, get the exact groceries that you need, and plan your meals around what is already in the house. This can be a great way to save. If you spend money on takeaways, then it can really add up. When life is much busier and you’re rushing around, grabbing takeout is so helpful. But as life has slowed somewhat, make the most of being at home, planning your meals, and cooking them from scratch. Another tip is to batch cook too. Then you’ll have some to put away for the next day, or in the freezer for another time.
Shop Wisely and Consider Cheaper Alternatives
When you’re thinking about working to a smaller budget than normal, you need to rethink your spending. Although you might normally buy certain things each week, you may not be able to at the moment. So don’t! If there are things that you want to get but that aren’t essentials, it is a good idea to think about putting them aside to get at a later date, once this is all over, or when your budget has returned to normal.
Another aspect of this is that you might normally buy certain brands, whether that be certain brands of clothing, or certain brands of food. However, if you’re on a mission to spend less, then now is the perfect time to swap out some of the branded products that you have for cheaper alternatives. It is quite staggering at the price difference for these kinds of things, with grocery stores often having their own items less than half of the price of a branded item. So being prepared to swap is a great idea. You never know, you might find a new item that you love even more.
Get a Savings Account
If you don’t already have an account for savings, then now is a good time to get one. If you are out of debt, and still have money to put aside each month, then it can be a good thing to get started. Although interest rates are quite low, they can only go up, as things return back to normal. So money in an account can earn money for you, just by sitting there! If you have some debts at the moment, though, it is wiser to get them paid off first. The future of the economy is so unknown at the moment, as we wait to see what happens next. So having some money put aside, if you’re able, to save for a rainy day, can help you to cover your bills. Then in the future you will be less likely to have to rely on things like credit cards or loans.
Sell Your Decluttered Items
If you are one of the thousands of people that has used this extra time at home to declutter things in the home, and sort out your closet, then you might have bags and bags of things that you no longer need. As a result, you could actually make some money with them, rather than just giving to goodwill or throwing out. Sort through what you have decided you no longer need, and check what is in good enough condition to sell on. Baby items, toys, and branded clothing are usually all items that do well (of course, as long as they are all in good condition). So look through and see what you can see. Facebook can be a great resource of selling items locally, although there are sites like eBay that you can use, as well as apps like Depop and Shpock.