COVID-19 pandemic has hit many aspects of our life, including personal finance. According to The New York Times, in April 2020, the unemployment rate is probably around 13%, the highest level since the Great Depression. Many of us are facing unexpected financial difficulties at this moment. While we don’t have much control over the unprecedented crisis like this, we can make certain money moves and find ways to save money on a tight budget.
1. Revisit your budget and track your spending
Since we have entered the second quarter of the year, it is time to make a thorough your budget. It is especially important to know where your spending goes. Make a list of all your expenses, from mortgage and phone bills to groceries and personal care. If you are seriously considering shrinking your budget, you need to take a close look at each cost and determine which can be cut.
2. Cut your phone bills
If you are using home WiFi most of the time now, you don’t need a huge data plan. You may want to call your cell phone carrier to ask them to downgrade your phone plan so you can save money. Or you can switch to a cheaper or prepaid cell phone plan. Two amazing prepaid plan providers are Tello and Mint Mobile, both of which offer affordable plans and great services.
3. Negotiate your bills with utility providers
If you have a hard time to pay utility bills, contact the providers to see whether they can work with you to waive certain fees or defer bills. Some utility providers have hardship assistance programs that help their customers with such issues.
4. Check with your banks on financial assistance
Many banks and financial companies offer programs to help customers affected by the crisis, ranging from late fee waivers to deferred loan payments. Check this list to find out what your bank can offer. If your bank is not on the list, give them a call to see what assistance programs they provide.
5. Make grocery shopping simple and cook at home
Reduce the frequency of grocery shopping and cook most of your meals at home. It not only limits your chance of exposure to the virus, but also helps you save money. Make a shopping list for simple and essential items and try to get as many of them as possible from one store. Then cook them at home with your family. Even if you are not good at cooking, there are many YouTube videos that teach you how to cook tasty dishes.
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6. Find free activities for entertainment
Staying inside can be boring, but it doesn’t mean that you have to pay to get entertained. There are so many ways to entertain yourself for free. You can simply cancel the unused subscriptions such as gym membership, streaming service, cable TV. Here are some ideas on free activities for entertainment:
– Stream movies on Kanopy with your public library card or university login.
– Watch a YouTube video to learn how to make a new dish.
– Check out an e-book from your public library page
– Listen to a podcast
– Facetime with a friend
– Host a Zoom party with some fun games
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7. Start your side hustle
With the instability of the economy and job market, it is increasingly important to have multiple income streams. It may be a time to think about finding a side hustle using your skills and expertise.
There are so many ways to start something online without much money investment first.
If you are good at writing and like to share ideas in a certain niche, start a blog, which opens opportunities for affiliate sales, sponsored posts, and other ways to make money. You can also post your writing on Medium, an online publishing platform, and get paid by the reading time of Medium members.
If you are a teacher, you can develop teaching materials such as worksheets or templates for other teachers and sell them on online market places, like Teachers pay Teachers or Amazon Ignite.
[Read More: 11 Side Hustles to Make Money]
8. Learn new skills and increase your value
Increasing your knowledge base and updating your skills give you an edge in the job market and better chances for promotion. There are so many free resources to learn new skills. I’m sure you can find something interesting from those free online courses.
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I know that even with all those financial moves, the stress caused by the crisis may still be overwhelming. If you’ve lost your job during the hard times, check out the 13 steps you can take. Stay safe and blessed!