The quarantine during the pandemic has changed our lives in many ways. While the most important aspect is our health, there are still other things to worry about, including money.
People worry they will have to spend more during the quarantine but there are ways to reduce your losses and stay in control of your budget.
Create a budget
Even if you already have a budget, the quarantine period is the time to take a closer look at how you’re spending your money. If you have already experienced some income loss (or you are expecting it), you should adjust your budget so that you recover from the losses in the future faster.
If you have time, you can create a quarantine budget that will help you control your spending during social distancing or lockdown. There are many sources of expenditures that you won’t be using – travel, entertainment, eating out, so include that in your quarantine budget.
It’s best to divide your expenses into two categories – fixed and variable. Fixed costs are expenses like rent, phone, cable TV, internet, and all your monthly subscriptions. Next, think about where you can reduce your spending. Maybe you can reduce your phone bill? Or cancel one of the subscriptions?
Another simple system is to use envelopes for each cash category – one for food, another for utilities, the third one for entertainment, etc. Seven or eight envelopes will suffice for your weekly budget spending.
You can also identify how much you can spend daily by dividing your month’s income by the days in the month and then detract your taxes.
It’s also effective to match the date you get your paycheck with paying the annual bills, together with mortgage or rent. Everything that remains goes to savings and other expenses.
Food is a great source of expenses, and it can be even more tempting to spend more on it during the quarantine out of sheer boredom or to ease the stress.
You should start cooking and baking at home instead of eating out or ordering food. You could save up to $40 per meal, which will turn into a big saving after only 10 days.
You can also focus on buying more of the specific food during the quarantine. For example, eggs are very cheap but they are rich in proteins and other important nutrients. Frozen berries are easy to keep in the freezer, cheep, and they defrost quickly. Bananas are also cheap but healthy fruit that will boost your immune system.
Another way to save on food is to make your own dressings instead of buying them. The same goes for squeezing your own juice and making your own smoothies.
Lastly, visit the supermarket less frequently by cooking in bulk. Freeze the food that you can and plan your meals for the whole week in advance to reduce unnecessary shopping.
Electricity and electrical appliances
As you are spending more time inside your home, it’s only natural you start paying more attention to how you spend electricity (because you may be spending more of it).
First of all, reduce energy bills by making sure you switch off lights in empty rooms. Make sure you switch off an appliance the moment you stop using it – it’s best to unplug them completely (of course, this doesn’t refer to the fridge, freezer, and a few other appliances that have to be plugged in constantly).
In case an appliance breaks down, don’t rush to buy a new one. In many cases, it’s a minor issue that can be solved for less money. For example, it’s easier to find Electrolux spare parts than to give up the appliance completely.
The thermostat can waste a lot of energy, so make sure you keep it low – it will also make you more alert.
Earn some cash on the side
You can take advantage of the time you spend at home by finding new ways to earn money. You can get rid of old things and unwanted items by taking photos of them and posting them on Craiglist or specific Facebook groups. If you haven’t been using those items up until now, you probably won’t need them in the future.
Maybe you don’t want to leave your current bank completely, but there’s nothing wrong in exploring your options, especially if you’re looking for a high-interest savings account or if you’re paying fees on your checking account.
Interest rates in some banks could have fallen, but some online banks still offer higher interest rates than the traditional ones. Do some research while staying at home to see if transferring to another bank can do you good.
Quarantine doesn’t have to be a great issue when looking from the financial aspect. Careful planning, a bit of research and a more attentive behaviour can help you go through the quarantine without major financial damages (or even with a bit of money saved).