The novel coronavirus has had devastating consequences on countless people across the globe. Even those who haven’t contracted COVID-19 or lost a loved one to it are feeling the emotional impact or the financial fallout from life in a pandemic.
If you are struggling to make ends meet, you might be tempted to stick your head in the sand and hope that everything magically works out. But that’s never a good idea when it comes to your finances. Instead, take a look at these tips for staying afloat while you ride out these unprecedented pandemic times.
Separate Wants from Needs
When your family is financially flush, it’s awfully easy to get used to a certain standard of living. But this is the time to pare down your budget and decide what’s truly necessary, and what’s simply nice to have.
Slash your expenses by canceling (or pausing) subscription services like streaming entertainment or monthly meal kits. Dial back the number of times you get dinner delivered. And while there are bargains galore out there on everything from online workout memberships, future travel packages, and even clothing and décor, remember that it’s not really a bargain if you can’t afford it.
Get Your Priorities Straight
Will a second round of stimulus checks make it through the GOP-controlled Senate? That’s still up in the air, but it’s not a bad idea to start planning now. If you get an extra $1,200 (or up to $6,000 for a family), what is the best way to use it?
You might be considering paying down your debt, especially if you have been using that VISA card a little more than usual lately. But financial experts caution that you should make absolutely certain you have enough money on hand to take care of immediate expenses first.
This includes the costs of housing, food, insurance, transportation, and medical care (such as prescription or office-visit copays). Your debt can wait until you’re back to work and your budget isn’t quite so lean.
It can be difficult to come back from an economically related emergency such as losing your health insurance, being evicted or having your house foreclosed on. And while it’s never ideal to file for bankruptcy, say the Attorneys at Jacobson, Julius & Harshberger, it’s nevertheless a better option than homelessness.
Don’t Panic and “Pandemic Spend”
Especially in the early days of the pandemic, plenty of people were panicking. It seemed like this might be the 21st century’s answer to the Black Plague, or the Apocalypse. Some folks are even revisiting the famous Mayan calendar conspiracy that initially predicted that the world would end in 2012, saying that thanks to an error in calculations, 2020 is the true End Times.
As a result, many folks have been tempted to seize the day: eating pandemic snacks with abandon, skipping not just leg day but every workout day, and spending their income and savings on – well, on whatever their hearts desire.
Again, that’s another shortsighted and poor decision, say the experts. Even a few months later, you can see for yourself that the tide is slowly starting to turn. We’ll certainly see setbacks like spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases and fluctuating financial markets. But things are moving in the right direction, giving everyone renewed hope that society will get back to a normal of some kind, even if it’s a new normal. So don’t blow your budget on frivolous or indulgent purchases, especially if your income isn’t all that steady right now.
Are you feeling strapped for cash these days, or have you been able to hustle and keep some money flowing in? Any tips for creative ways to save on everyday expenses? Share your thoughts in the comment section!