The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us all in more ways than we ever thought. Isolation measures test our mental health as we keep separated on a daily basis and the economic impact from the outbreak to destroying the economy as businesses collapse, people are furloughed or even worse left with no job and no money.
If you haven’t already, one of the first things to do during these tough times is to get a good handle on your finances. The below lists out a number of common-sense steps to take as soon as possible:
List Out Your Outgoings
First and foremost, you need to know what you are spending each month. Go through bank statements and emails to see what you are spending each month/year and add them to a spreadsheet. Google Sheets is a free-to-use spreadsheet service that will allow you to collate what you are spending each month. List out everything you spend on the spreadsheet to see where savings can be made.
|– Insurance (car, life, medical)
– Council Services (Recycling)
– Car Payments
– Milkman, Window Cleaner
– Licenses (TV)
– Xbox/PS4 Subscriptions
– Storage (photos, email)
– Netflix (and similar services)
– Shopping (clothes etc)
|– Bills (Electric, Gas, Water)
– Tax (Council)
– Comms (Phones, Internet)
– Overdraft Charges
– Lessons / Clubs
– Amazon Prime
If you are unsure if you are overspending in certain areas, then use this handy Family Budget Planner on Calculator.me. This site has a tonne of useful calculators to help you from salary calculators to loan calculators. Armed with a firm handle on your spending, you can then take the next step.
Review Your Subscription Services
Over the years, our subscription services steadily grow and grow. With many of us binge-watching box sets, it’s easy to sign up to the array of entertainment packages. Are you paying for Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+? If so, decide which to keep and make your peace with missing out on the next series of Stranger Things. Right now, you don’t need all of those subscriptions. Cancel some off and start saving immediately. You can pause Audible for three months and simply pick three books from around the house to get your teeth into over the next three months. If you have Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music (Comes with Amazon Prime) then ask yourself if you can live with just one service.
Are you paying for storage on Apple, Google and Xbox? Choose one, move all the files over and start reducing those micropayments that soon add up.
Get a New Deal
Armed with your list of outgoings, spend half a day focused on reducing your monthly bills. Car Insurance can be reduced as your car is older, you are driving less and insurance companies are eager to keep your business. You can also move your utilities, such as gas and electricity to new suppliers such as Bulb who only use energy from renewable sources.
Another simple saving is to change your Internet service provider, as there are often deals from the competitor to lure new customers in. This is similar to credit card companies that are eager to give you an interest-free time period meaning your credit card debts can be managed for another few months.
Bulk Buying, Bulk Cooking, Internet Calls
With bills now under control, you can now start to stretch the products and services you already use. By shopping either monthly or fortnightly, you can reduce the number of times you use the car and have to interact with people in the supermarkets. Obviously, don’t buy excessive amounts as this is not cool, but just return to the good old days of the ‘monthly shop’. This will save on petrol and force you to get bigger items which are usually cheaper in the long run.
Got a freezer? Why not start to make extra-large portions of spaghetti bolognese, lasagna, curry, chili and many others that can be defrosted and re-used when needed. There are a plethora of freezer recipes out there if you want a nice range of foods.
Other savings can be made by using free internet services for your calls such as Facebook Messenger, Google Chat and Zoom. This may save on your phone call and mobile data allowance.
Get a Side Hustle or Upskill
With companies going under, salaries being reduced and job security at risk, there has never been a better time to look at earning additional money through other sources. Sites like PeoplePerHour, UpWork and Freelancer are handy if you have any design/development, marketing or writing skills as you can create websites, assist with social media or research and write blog posts. If you are more creative you can sell your wares on Esty, eBay or even write e-books.
However, if you are looking for something more local, you can become a local delivery driver for a local takeaway or even Amazon Delivery. Similarly, you can provide dog walking or sitting services for dogs in the local area.
Be Aware of Timeframes
Introductory offers, limited-time deals and interest-free accounts have a time limit. Mark all of the important dates on your spreadsheet and in your Google Calendar to ensure that you are not stung when the rates change and all your hard work is undone.
Stay on top of your finances, even if its bad news as hiding from them will only make them worse.
Stay safe, stay positive and let’s all get through this together.