About half of all Americans have been financially affected by the coronavirus. Many have lost jobs or are dealing with reduced hours, and those still working might be anxious about what’s on the horizon. Lean times—even the possibility of them—call for fiscal prudence.
Here are some tips to cut costs and put yourself and your family on better financial footing.
These tips are wise moves in any economy, but especially important right now.
- Revise your budget. Depending on your family’s situation, your income and expenses might look very different from just a few months ago. Review with fresh eyes how much money is coming into and out of your household.
- Cut the fat. What are your essential expenses? For most people, it’s rent/mortgage, groceries, loans, and utility payments. For all other expenses, reassess what you really need—and don’t be afraid to make cuts.
- Lower your energy bill. Adjusting your thermostat just a few degrees can translate to dollars saved. Also, check your doors and windows for easy-to-fix gaps that may be leaking air.
- Consolidate your entertainment. Streaming services and subscriptions can add up quickly. Only keep those you use; and turn off “auto-renew.” Cutting your cable can also mean big savings.
- Check cell phone & internet bills. Your plans may have add-ons (extra data, faster speed, etc.) that you’ve forgotten about or don’t need. Ditch those, and then call to change or negotiate your plan—and don’t be afraid to switch providers (many will lower your bill to keep your business).
- Get smart on groceries. Plan meals ahead of time to reduce impulse buys at the store. Make large meals (soups, stews, salads) in big batches to last for days. Vegetarian meals are especially budget-friendly. Also, look at your food waste—and use what you buy.
Made for These Times
Sometimes crises come with opportunities; in the case of coronavirus, there are some new ways to save.
- Coronavirus resources. The federal assistance available to those impacted by coronavirus includes resources for unemployment, healthcare, loans, stimulus checks, and business aid. Check the site to see if you’re eligible.
- Free subscriptions. Many digital platforms are offering free subscriptions right now. From streaming services and educational programs to online workouts, you can find a lot just by doing a web search.
- Low refinance rates. The Federal Reserve’s recent slashing of the interest rate translates to very low rates on loans. If you were considering refinancing your mortgage or another large loan, this might be a great time.
- Lower debt interest. Federal student loan interest (along with principal) has been suspended until September 30, 2020. Check with your other creditors to see if they will work with you to lower your interest rate or temporarily suspend it.
- Eviction, rent, and mortgage protection. Due to widespread hardship, there are assistance programs available for rent and mortgage payments, as well as protection against eviction. Check your state’s programs and the Federal website.
- Summer Skip option. Educators who are California Casualty policyholders can opt to take a break from premium payments during the summer months.
If you’re able to, pad your healthcare and emergency savings as much as possible. If you’re expecting a tax refund (tax day has been extended to July 15), try to stash that in savings.
Hopefully, the lean times will be temporary, but you’ll never regret saving money where you could.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.