The bright side of working from home is that you don’t need to spend as much money on gas, tolls, or public transportation. Take a moment to reflect on how much you normally spend on your commute. If your boss allows you to work from home, you can now essentially save that money. Putting fewer miles on your car also means that you’re putting fewer miles on your vehicle and spending less on repairs.
During quarantine, you won’t be going out to restaurants or entertainment, either. For most Americans, this amounts to hundreds of dollars per month that aren’t being used anymore. Use that extra money to build up a cash reserve or begin paying off debt. We don’t know how long this situation will last, so it’s best to be prepared.
With the current rate of unemployment, it almost seems getting into debt to stay afloat is unavoidable. Most people get a credit card “in case of emergencies,” even if they could have never predicted something quite like this. However, in times like this, it’s more important than ever not to get into debt. We don’t know how long this crisis will last. So instead of rushing out to buy a ton of doomsday supplies, try to focus on cutting back on spending and only buy the essentials.
As someone who fell into debt during The Great Recession, I can tell you that it took me 10 years to finally get my finances under control. Now, just as things were looking brighter for me financially, we’re falling into another recession again. I understand the dilemma many of you are going through. However, I’m not allowing myself to make the same mistakes I made in the past, and neither should you. Try to find creative solutions to cut back on spending, and avoid falling into debt.
If money is tight for you, see if there are creative ways for you to get what you need by trading with someone else. For example, maybe you know someone who is a hairdresser and you can offer to clean their home in exchange for a haircut. Some of your friends may have also purchased more than they needed, and both of you can trade things. By trading with your friends, it becomes a lot easier to save money.
However, keep in mind that as a society, we are encouraging social distancing. Simply by leaving your house and visiting friends, you are exposing yourself to other people. At the end of the day, you can’t control where they have been. So calculate your risk of exposure before you choose to trade.
Usually, spring is a time for home improvement projects. Many people hire contractors to get things done around their house. However, this is no longer a reality. Projects have been put on the backburner as people save their money. But staying home for extended periods of time might leave you feeling extremely bored. This might be a great opportunity for you to complete projects on your own without hiring a professional. YouTube has amazing tutorials that can help you learn how to accomplish your tasks and they will save you money, too.
During this crisis, Home Depot and Lowes are still considered to be “essential retail,” so they will remain open with limited hours. Remember that sunshine is a natural source of vitamin D, and it’s an important part of building your immune system. So this would actually be good for your health to get some gardening done while under quarantine. Even if you don’t want to leave your house to buy supplies, you can still buy gardening and home improvement products on Amazon. Lowes and Home Depot are also offering delivery options so you can continue to shop from the comfort of your home.
At the time this article was written, most restaurants have closed their doors to the public and only allow customers to order takeout or delivery. With people bunkering down inside of their homes and opting for canned food, it means these restaurants are going to lose a lot of money. Since it’s important to stay inside and extend our food rations for as long as possible, you may want to support your local restaurants by ordering takeout. The more we order food from them, the longer these businesses can stay open.
Afraid to let people near your front door? Most takeout drivers have been instructed to wear gloves and be as clean as humanly possible. Restaurants that offer drive-thrus like Starbucks and McDonald’s are being instructed to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer once every hour, but some choose to do it more frequently. If you’re still scared, wear gloves before you interact with other people.
If you’ve recently lost your job and applied for unemployment benefits, there’s no shame in applying for help to receive free supplies from a local food bank. Many churches and community centers have programs that will help you get free non-perishable items like canned goods, pasta, and sauces. These’re usually already drive-up services where you can pick up the food and leave, and many of them are making accommodations for social distancing.
Some programs, like Meals on Wheels, will also deliver food to vulnerable elderly people with health conditions. Contact your local chapter to see if you qualify for assistance. And if not, ask if they are aware of any other local programs that might be able to help you.
In the UK, many homeowners associations can afford to give their tenants a “rent holiday,” or allow them to skip rent for at least one month. They’re able to do this because many estates in England are owned by old-money families who can afford to be generous. In the United States, very few landlords come from old money. Most of them were self-made. If they happen to be wealthy, they might be willing to let you skip rent for a month during this crisis, but don’t count on it. At the time this article was written, the government isn’t doing anything to help renters aside from the upcoming stimulus package.
Keep in mind that landlords are people, too. They need to pay their mortgages and bills with the money they make from renting their property. For some, this could be their main source of income they need to feed their families. Never assume that your landlord is “rich.” If you can’t afford your rent, the next tip might be right for you.
As cringe-worthy as this might sound, your best option during the crisis might be to move back in with your parents. The vast majority of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, so with this spike in unemployment, there are suddenly going to be a lot of people who need to bail out of their lease. Even if you get unemployment benefits, these only last six months and are just 60% of your income. The stimulus package may help to counter-balance your lost income. However, there are estimates this might last as long as 18 months before we can get back to life as normal.
Most people have leases that end in spring or summer. This is usually peak moving season, and many people are going to have to put their lives on hold. If you’re worried that you might lose your job, it may be better to hunker down at your home base. Your parents will probably be happy to have you. This will give you an opportunity to save money.
Saving during an outbreak may seem obvious, but it’s more important than ever to make a budget. Make a Google Sheet or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and lay out all of your monthly expenses. Divide your necessities like food and rent from non-essentials. If you have anything left after paying your bills, save whatever money you can and prepare yourself for whatever may happen in the future.
As much as the government is going to encourage us to spend money to help boost the economy, we need to look out for ourselves first and foremost. The only way to be prepared is to have a few months’ worth of expenses stashed away for emergencies.
In this time of uncertainty, businesses are going to reduce staff down to the essential crew members. One way you can improve your chances of job security is to make yourself more valuable as an employee. Ask yourself if your job is replaceable or if there are multiple people with the same position in your location. Try to do the best job you possibly can to prove you’re amazing. Go above and beyond to be a good, responsible employee. If your boss sees you as an essential member of the crew, you just might be able to keep your job during the crisis and survive budget cuts.
Even if you get laid off, it’s still important for you to increase your value. The job market is about to become incredibly competitive, so you’ll need to shine during interviews. Self-improvement is a huge part of why some of the most successful people in the world became millionaires.
They never stopped trying to become better in their field, and neither should you. We don’t have a lot of control in this situation and it’s easy to fall into self-pity. Take advantage of the things you do have control over, which is your own health and skillsets. You still have the ability to work on yourself, even if you’re self-quarantined at home for the foreseeable future.