Although Americans get about 1 billion colds every year, it’s obvious that the novel coronavirus pandemic is much more serious than a simple cough or runny nose. Thanks to the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 and its potentially serious effects, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and have been forced to make drastic changes in their lives in order to stop the spread.
As a result, the nation’s economy is in a sorry state. With no second stimulus check in sight and unemployment benefits being drastically cut, many U.S. residents are finding themselves in dire straits. And even if you’re still gainfully employed during the pandemic, it’s likely you’ll need to cut back in some areas of your budget in order to thoroughly prepare for what might happen in the event of a second wave.
While there are a number of ways to find debt relief and negotiate with lenders in order to catch a break, there are also some strategies that can help you cut down on unnecessary spending. In fact, more than one in five Americans managed to save at least $1,000 during the pandemic — and while some of that was due to canceled vacations and a lack of nightlife, there are options if you’re looking to cut back. Here are just a few ideas that may curb your expenditures during the ongoing health crisis.
Cancel Your Subscriptions
It might sound like a common piece of advice that won’t make much difference, but you may be surprised by just how much you’re paying every month for unnecessary subscriptions. From news sites and streaming services to meal prep subscriptions and gym memberships, you’ll want to take a closer look at those automatic fees that come out of your account every month. Although you might need to continue with some of them, there are likely others that you’ve forgotten about and really don’t need for now. Even if canceling them gives you an extra $30 or so per month, that can provide a small financial cushion over the next year.
Delete Saved Credit Card Info
Many of us are shopping online even more than before. After all, it’s convenient and safe — and it can provide a bit of an adrenaline rush. But being able to check out with the click of a single button makes it much easier to buy items you don’t really need. If you’ve saved your credit card information to a given site (like Amazon) in the past, consider removing that info now. Not only could it keep your data safe, but it could make you think twice before making a purchase and help you avoid buyer’s remorse.
Pay Attention to Utility Use
Summertime can be notoriously expensive in terms of utility bills. Already, renters of unfurnished U.S. apartments paid a median of $1,492 per month for their rent in 2017. While you might be unable to negotiate those monthly payments, you can at least cut back on energy costs. In summer, you can adjust your thermostat to be a bit warmer — and as fall arrives, you might want to delay turning on the heat. If you’re working from home for the foreseeable future, you’ll probably end up using considerably more energy during the day. You can offset that by unplugging electronic devices when they aren’t in use, switching to LED bulbs, or making use of your crockpot or outdoor grill instead of the oven and stove. Over time, these energy efficient habits can make a big difference.
Reduce Car Insurance Premiums
If you already own used car (a type of vehicle that makes up three out of four automotive sales nationwide), you’re probably thinking in a budget-conscious manner. As many businesses remain closed or have continued to operate remotely, there’s a good chance you’re spending less on fuel already. But what about car insurance premiums? It’s entirely possible that you could reduce what you’re paying every month. If you know your employer is mandating work-from-home policies through next year, you might be able to negotiate a lower premium simply because you won’t be on the roads nearly as much. It doesn’t hurt to ask what kind of savings for which you might be eligible. If those tactics fail, don’t be afraid to shop around for alternatives to see if you might benefit from savings elsewhere.
Be Smart When Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping is likely more stressful than ever before — but you might also be spending more money during these trips in an effort to avoid restaurants and embrace healthier options. One of the best ways to keep costs low when shopping for food is to prepare a list ahead of time and stick to it. Meal prepping can also keep expenditures in check, as you can use items you buy in bulk for multiple purposes throughout the week. Try to avoid making any impulse purchases to ensure you won’t have sticker shock when the cashier tells you the total at checkout. Remember to make use of coupon apps to save — but don’t be tempted to buy something you don’t need just so you can experience the rush of a discount.
It’s not always easy to save money under any circumstances. But during the ongoing pandemic, your financial situation might be quickly spiraling out of control. By utilizing some of these cost-cutting tips, you’ll have more wiggle room in your budget and will be in a better position to plan for what’s to come.