While you’re doing your part to help flatten the curve (and catching up on TV you’ve missed since 2015), try kicking your savings into high gear.
Uncertain times like these are why emergency funds are a thing. They can save the day if you lose your income or get an unexpected bill. Spend some time now figuring out how to start building (or keep adding to) yours. Future you will appreciate it.
Related: Where to Put Your Emergency Savings
Okay, you might be spending more on baking ingredients, shipping, and food delivery than usual. If you’ve also upgraded your wifi and bought new office equipment to WFH better, see if your company will foot some of the bill.
Start by looking at your bank and credit card statements. Knowing where your money’s going is key to smart budgeting. The 50/20/30 rule can help. That’s where 50% of your money goes toward basic needs, 20% gets saved or invested, and 30% is for wants. Shrink the needs and wants to make more room for saving.
Social distancing should be keeping you away from restaurants and bars, concerts, sporting events, flights, etc. If you already have a flight that’s been canceled, you probably have a refund coming. Put that money directly into savings.
Got you. Here are some other ways to save more now.
Transportation costs: Staying home means saving on gas, tolls, public parking, and transit passes. If you autopay your commuter costs, remember to cancel.
Food: Make your grocery store runs or orders count to keep this bill in check. Pick up versatile foods you can eat a lot of different ways. (There’s shrimp kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried…) And some that’ll last a while. Think: PB, potatoes, apples. Oh, and heads up: grocery stores are literally designed to make you spend more. One fun trick: the most expensive, name-brand items are usually stocked at eye-level. Scanning the shelves for better deals and generic brands could potentially save you about 25%.
Subscriptions: Look at all your regular monthly payments to see what you can freeze (your gym, clothing rentals). Or cancel altogether. This is a good time to think about which subscriptions are worth your money vs. the ones you forgot to cancel after the free trial ended. PS, while your gym membership's on ice, look up free fitness classes online or on Instagram.
Hobbies: Pretty much whatever you're into right now – games, music, learning a new language – there’s probably a free app for that. Instead of downloading and paying for them, borrow ebooks from the library.
Housing: If it’s about time to renew your lease, play hardball. You could have more negotiating power if the coronavirus slows demand for rentals. If you own, consider refinancing. The Fed cut the federal funds rate — a benchmark percentage that influences mortgages — to almost zero in March. Do your homework and make sure you’re getting a good deal before re-signing on the dotted line.
Related: Tips to Save on Housing Costs
Prescriptions: Getting medicine from a mail-order service can be quarantine- and budget-friendly. If your doc and insurance approve, generic and 90-day supplies could also save you money.
Unstable economies are emergency funds’ time to shine. Take a break from refreshing the news and try to add some money to yours. So you’re prepared no matter what happens next.
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