The US labor market has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of Americans who are out of work continues to grow. Do you know that in April 2020, the unemployment rate reached 14.8%? This was the highest rate observed since data collection began in 1948. In particular, it’s the low-wage earners who experienced the greatest decrease in employment. And this could mean a lot of relying on emergency savings and skillful budgeting for them.
If you’re one of those who lost their job due to the pandemic, you’re most likely on a tight budget. Are you looking for ways to free up some extra cash? Whether you’re missing paychecks or you simply want to build a financial safety net, here are some money-saving tips to consider.
It Starts With an Evaluation
Your financial health is important. As your physical health needs to be checked, so does your financial wellness. Assessing your financial situation can help you determine what needs to be adjusted or kept in momentum.
The primary step in evaluating your finances is to know your net worth so you would know how much you actually have. It means going over your monthly income, expenses, and debt load.
First, add up your income. That includes the salaries, interest, or any other sources you’re receiving in a month. The next step is to estimate your expenses, which can be easily done with apps and tools available now. Or simply list them all down on paper. Then figure out the difference between your total income and expenses. What you have there is the actual amount that you should work your budget on. If it’s positive, then you’re spending less than what you’re earning. But if it’s a negative, it’s time to trim down your expenses so you’ll live within your means and save up later on. Don’t forget to pay off your debt also.
If your financial situation seems fine after assessment, then good for you. You can just continue to build your wealth or invest for the future. However, if it needs recalibration, you should start reallocating your spending and committing to your budget now.
Keeping It Simple With Grocery Shopping
Food is likely one of the biggest monthly expenses in any household. Although it’s tempting to order takeout, you should skip it if you’re cash-strapped or you want to save. Restaurant food is expensive, and the tips and delivery fees can add up to the cost.
To maximize your savings on food, cook your meals. And when you do grocery shopping, keep it low-cost. Before heading out to shop, check on your pantry shelves first and assess your current supplies. Using what you already have can help you cut your spending and increase your savings.
It’s also useful to plan out what you’re going to cook for the week. You can then make a list of ingredients needed and stick to it when shopping. Don’t get something you don’t really need. Being mindful of what you’re putting in your cart helps you avoid impulse buying.
Being Wise With Online Shopping
E-commerce is on the rise. With a wide range of products to choose from, it’s easy to be lured into buying online. Who wouldn’t love online shopping if you could just scroll up and down on your device and get that hot item you want? It’s saving you a lot of time! Online shopping also lets you review what others are saying about a product. You couldn’t do this if you were to visit a physical store.
The drawback to this virtual consumerism is you could go over budget. The excitement and convenience can result in impulse buys.
If you’re doing much of your buying online, how can you avoid overspending and save money instead?
An online shopping list and budget will be a great help. When you have a clear idea of your budget and what you’re going to buy before going online, you can maintain a focus. You won’t be distracted by other items or spend hours searching for something you don’t really know.
To make sure you’ll get the best deals, compare prices. The same product can be priced differently among brands. But you had better be patient in finding the lowest price or the best quality.
If you’re loyal to a certain brand, you can also sign up for online reward programs. You can earn points and use them later on to gain discounts. Also, consider using an Amazon promo code. You can use it in shopping and get cash back rebates at the same time.
Online shopping is not just for splurging your hard-earned money. You can be strategic and make sure you’re having savings through it.
The hardest part of saving money is having something to save. It’s impossible to save without money. However, sometimes it’s just a matter of changing habits to save more. Ditch the bad habits.
If you’re working to achieve a financial goal, start making lifestyle changes, even if they are small. It will be a major positive influence on your financial health over time.