Just like you, we are always looking for ways to keep ourselves and our family busy and active as we adjust to the new normal of “Stay home. Stay healthy”. Every day we are giving you a list of 14 things to keep us sharp, in shape, stimulated, busy, or entertained during these unprecedented times. Do one a day for 14 days, or tackle the entire list at once. Just make sure to check back every day for something new.
During these times, it’s important to continue focusing on your daily life, including your ongoing financial goals. Today we’re showcasing 14 tips to stretch your budget.
- Track Your Spending: The most important part of budgeting is finding where you need to improve. It’s easy to lose track of your spending when you’re just using your debit card and checking your account balance. You also need to know where your money is actually going. You can do this by hand, or there are many fantastic budgeting apps available that will make this easy.
- Create a Budget and Stick to it: Once you identify where your money is going, use that information to create an attainable budget and stick to it. As mentioned above, there are many wonderful apps available to make this process very easy.
- Stop Any Unnecessary Spending: Even a temporary freeze of all take-out food, coffee, or extra household purchases adds up quickly. One easy way to identify if an expense is unnecessary is to try to think of an alternative you already own. For instance, say you accidentally broke two wine glasses while doing the dishes. Rather than jumping on Amazon and order a new set, maybe consider using regular drinking glasses for the time being. If an alternative doesn’t exist, then see if it’s feasible within your budget.
- Look for Coupons and Sales: Try using coupons and buy items on sale whenever possible. Even if it isn’t your favorite brand, if there’s a coupon available, maybe now is a good time to try something new.
- Try Making a Few Vegetarian Meals a Week: Meat can drive up your grocery bill quite a bit. Instead, try making a meal or two a week using beans or quinoa as your protein source.
- Shop Store Brands: Most store brands are the same quality as name brands, but cost significantly less.
- Eat Your Leftovers: You can re-purpose leftovers into a whole new meal, or just microwave last night’s dinner for lunch the next day. This can help eliminate waste and lower your grocery bill.
- Skip the Junk Food: Prepackaged foods like chips, crackers, and sweets, are expensive and they are not filling or healthy. Instead, take this time to clean up your diet and stick to healthy whole foods for now. Your health and wallet will both benefit.
- Try To Do It Yourself: Rather than buying everything you need, see if it’s something you can do yourself. For instance, you can make an effective and very inexpensive household cleaner using vinegar, dish soap, and water.
- Revisit Your Internet and TV Bill: Now would be a great time to renegotiate your services. For many, internet is an essential service, but cable is not. Give your provider a call and see what deal they can get for you.
- Revisit Your Insurance Bill: When was the last time you shopped for car, homeowner, or renters insurance? You may be paying more than you really need to. Take the time to get a few quotes and see how much you can save.
- Consider Selling Some Unnecessary Household Items: If you haven’t used it in the last 12 months, you probably don’t need it. This is a great way to de-clutter your house and bring in a little extra cash.
- Try Walking Instead of Driving: As long as you are keeping yourself safe by following proper social distancing standards, try walking instead of driving when you can. This can save you on gas, maintenance, and mileage on your car.
- Make Your Home Energy Efficient: Turning down the thermostat and sealing up any drafts can make a pretty big dent in your heating bill. You can also try taking shorter lukewarm showers to help lower your electric and water bill.
We know things are stressful right now, and you may be worried about your finances. We have solutions available through our Member Assistance Program, designed to support you. We have a range of resources, such as an Emergency Loan Program, Skip-a-Pay, and our Visa Credit Card special, that can help those who have been impacted.