If there were ever urgency to save money, it would be now.
For many of us, these are very financially uncertain times. Millions have already been laid off. Others have seen their work hours so reduced that going on EI would be more advantageous. As for the rest of us who are still lucky enough to have a full-time job, that could change in an instant.
Whatever our situation, this means making any savings we do have stretch as far as possible. There’s so much unpredictability right now that we may need to live off of this money for a long time. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and that’s why I strongly recommend reducing your spending in times of financial uncertainty.
As a proud frugalista, I’ve come up with several creative ideas to help us reduce our monthly living expenses throughout the Corona epidemic. Whether we’re facing an international crisis, a recession or a boom, it’s possible to maintain control over our spending. Here’s how:
Reduce Your Phone / Data Plan
Since we’re basically always home right now (or at most, splitting our time between home and our workplaces) we don’t need nearly as many talk minutes or as much 4G as usual. If you are able to downgrade your plan to a cheaper package, you could cut your cell phone bill in half. Let’s be honest, we’re probably going to be living like this for months, so these savings could really add up. And in the meantime, you can use your home or work wifi for the bulk of your communication needs.
Cancel Your Car Insurance
Just like your phone plan, you’re probably only using your car these days to make a weekly grocery run. So it’s not worth paying a couple hundred dollars in car insurance every month. Anyone living in a multi-car household, or within walking distance of a supermarket, can easily take advantage of this strategy. Same for anyone who can order their essentials online or is temporarily having errands taken care of by a friend or family member.
Perhaps, instead, you are the one buying groceries for your extended family and other members of the community who cannot go out themselves. Why don’t you suggest they cancel their car insurance until this is all over? They won’t be driving anywhere in the immediate future. You could even arrange to split a portion of your car expenses as a win-win for everyone.
* You will want to consult your insurance broker before making any changes to your plan to ensure that you are still insured for the basics, such as break-ins and other potential damages.
Cancel Your Sports Channels and Other Useless Subscriptions
There aren’t exactly a lot of games and sporting competitions going on at the moment. In fact, last time I checked there were around zero. So why continue paying for the extra channels? Are you really watching reruns of old games and seasons when you could be binge-watching Netflix? You’re better off canceling those sports channels for the immediate future.
You can approach any other relevant subscriptions and memberships with the same attitude. It’s hard to justify paying for Rent the Runway or Dollar Shave Club when you’ve been wearing your pajamas for the past 5 days. I rest my case.
Declutter and Sell Your Unwanted Items
All of this time spent isolating might have you rethinking some of the items in your home. You might become aware of things that you haven’t used in years and others that you just don’t like anymore. Now is the perfect time to take action. Think Spring Cleaning – Corona Edition.
Despite our new circumstance, you can still sell unwanted appliances, furniture, clothing and toys online through websites like Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. It’s a great way to earn a little extra money, save unwanted items from landfills and help people out who can’t afford to spend more.
Small items can be popped in the mail, while larger pieces can be picked up in-person. Just remember, your health comes first! Be sure to take additional safety measures to sanitize all items as they leave or enter your home, and handover goods while practicing social distancing. Remind buyers to sanitize incoming items as they are received on their end as well. And avoid exchanging cash.
This past week I sold a table on Facebook Marketplace. I decided to only accept payment by e-transfer so that no physical money would need to change hands. Then, wearing protective gear, I brought the sterilized table to the curb for easy pickup. Social isolation dutifully maintained, plus I now have a less cluttered home and a bit more money in the bank.
It’s DIY Time
“My thoughts go out to all of the married men all over the world who have told their wives: I’ll do that when I have time. Time’s up dudes!”
With plenty of extra time on our hands, now is the perfect occasion to catch up on any DIY items that we’ve been putting off. Whether it’s fixing a squeaky door, making our own cleaning products, installing a shelf or mending clothes, there’s no time like the present. I also encourage you to tackle items on your to-do list that you may previously have wanted to outsource.
You’re already spending way too much time everyday on Youtube, so why not make it a DIY video. Learn how to re-grout your bathtub yourself or hem those too-long jeans. I personally want to try rewiring a lamp, sewing some linen napkins and restoring some old wooden sun chairs. And it’s probably time to tackle that pile of clothing I’ve been meaning to have altered for the past 3 years. Learning to do new DIY tasks ourselves will save us money right now and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Bonus points to be awarded for feeling extra productive and doing something we previously thought we couldn’t.
Make Things To Sell Online & In Your Community
Whether it’s a skill you’ve had for a long time or something you’re just learning now, why not turn your hobby into some extra cash. Turn leftover fabrics into pretty, washable facemasks and sell them on Etsy (or donate them within the community). Same goes for soaps, candles and other easy to ship items.
Have a green thumb? Do some basic landscaping for neighbors, like weeding, cutting the grass, planting bulbs, distributing soil and chopping down invading trees. Or expand in-person professional services like accounting, life coaching and tutoring online. There are so many excellent and free services available that will make the online transition easier for you.
* I wouldn’t advise taking on any DIY or paid paid jobs that might lead to potential injuries for yourself or others. An urgent trip to the doctor is the last thing anyone needs right now.
If you have a product or service to offer, why not suggest a swap with a fellow entrepreneur or small business. It’s a great way for you both to save money and still get what you want. This can also be a nice way to help out a client who may be struggling financially but has a service that you could benefit from. For example, as an accountant, I could offer to do a tax return for a mechanic, lawyer or hairdresser who will then do some “free” work for me in exchange. This way we’ve both received something of value without spending a penny.
For more creative ideas on savings money everyday, check out my Frugal Mom series, starting with Part I.
Save Money and Spend Consciously…
To everyone still earning a stable income, I recommend switching into frugal mode until you have at least five to ten thousand dollars saved in an emergency fund. Best to be prepared for any unwanted surprises.
Once you have enough money in your emergency fund to weather any financial storms, please do continue to spend and support the economy as usual. Your continued spending will reduce the negative economic impact of this pandemic and help struggling businesses to retain employees. Whenever possible, and only ever as much as you can afford to, please continue to support small businesses. They may not otherwise survive this. Every dollar you spend will help make a difference.
Stay tuned to learn how you can benefit from the growing number of government programs and subsidies being announced. As more specific information begins to trickle in about financial assistance I will be creating a guide to help you easily navigate and take advantage of the programs that could help you and your families.
For those of you who don’t require any financial support and may even have some extra funds in the bank, I’ll be sharing how you can make the most of this downturn by investing wisely.
Stay safe and healthy,