Has unemployment or under-employment due to the Coronavirus got you wondering how to spend less money? Are you struggling to save while finances are tight? If so, you’re far from alone, because U.S. unemployment claims have reached an astounding 26 million since the pandemic hit only five weeks ago.
Unsuprisingly, some economists are now predicting that Americans could reach a 25% unemployment rate within a few months, a metric not seen since 1933 during the Great Depression. Yikes.
That’s why we’ve got to talk about finances and put our attention on the issues that matter right now. Remember, results go where attention flows.
The benefit of focusing on how to spend less money is that it can be a fun and creative process to learn how to reduce your spending. Soon, you’ll be living on a lean but appropriate budget and feeling much better all around.
How to Spend Less Money During the Coronavirus
Let’s dive into 11 actionable strategies you can implement today to get you through the Coronavirus recession.
1. Take Advantage of Stuff That’s Free or Discounted During the Pandemic
Have you seen how many cultural organizations, colleges, libraries, authors, movie studios, chefs, and other generous people and groups are giving us access to their intellectual property at no cost?
- View great works of art from museums you’ve never been to
- Enjoy free (or highly discounted) college courses
- Participate in other online instruction, such as ones offered by professional writers and marketers
- Take free yoga and other exercise classes online
- Virtually visit the zoo and enjoy watching your favorite species on display
- A lot more
When will you have this opportunity again? It’s hard to say, but the answer is potentially, never.
2. Don’t drink your dollars
This is a big tip, because the habit of drinking your dollars tends to repeat day after day and it can really add up.
During a time like this where you need to live lean, make an effort to eliminate your spending on soda, juice, bottled water, and of course alcohol, such as beer, wine and hard liquor.
You don’t need to sipping on expensive beverages right now and chances are this is an easy area where you can cut back.
Particularly if you have a habit of drinking a glass of wine or a couple beers at night, you can really save some coin by cutting this out.
3. Use the Time You’re Not Working to Hunt for Deals
Now that so many stores are empty, companies are selling their merchandise online at some terrific discounts. Subscribe to their e-mail lists to find out when they have sales.
Don’t just throw away your weekly advertising circulars. Department stores like Macy’s and Target advertise in these, but you can order online and have sale items delivered to your home.
You can also scour websites for grocery coupons, of which there are plenty (if only you’re lucky enough to find the items on store shelves).
While you’re at it, why not read up on personal financial strategies?
4. DIY Whenever Possible
If you’re working on your house, you’re doing what’s called “sweat equity,” which means you’re saving the cost of a professional contractor or handyman. They need money too, though, so don’t do this forever.
You can find lots of great DIY information on YouTube and “how-to” websites. DIY videos also make frequent appearances on Facebook.
5. Cut Back on Take-Out Meals
Here too, you need to be sensitive to other workers and their need to earn money. However, you will save money by cutting back on the take-out food. You might improve your cooking skills too.
Maybe save take-out dining for special occasions or do it one day every other week?
6. Cut All the “Cords” You Can
First, ask yourself if you really need your cable TV fix. When was the last time you looked at your monthly bill? If it’s been a while, be prepared for a shock.
If you use paid TV app services, like Hulu, HBO Go, or Sling for example, make sure you’re using them and they’re worth the price. If you’re not, then nix this bill and save your dollars for when times are better.
If you can’t live without a reoccuring service, you can try negotiating with your provider for a better deal. You might work the same type of angle with your mobile phone service provider.
7. Buy Cheap Food Staples and Use Great Recipes
How many healthy meals can you get from one bag of dried beans? It’s a lot, especially if you add small amounts of meat or veggies for extra flavor and nutrition. A well-seasoned bean with ham soup is incredibly easy to make, nutritious, and will provide several meals.
Beans are one of my favorite foods because they are high in protein and dietary fiber, which makes them filling. They’re packed with important vitamins and minerals, help to reduce blood sugar, and even improve cholesterol levels. Plus, they’re cheap as dirt, so stock up on them.
Another tip is to pay attention to the price of your most expensive food items and buy more of the cheaper ones. For example, when it comes to buying protein, sources like chicken, eggs, and cottage cheese tend to be a lot cheaper than items like steak, roasts, fish, or shrimp.
8. Buy Necessities in Bulk
When it comes to the price of most staples and necessities, like flour, sugar, coffee, and canned goods, you can dramatically drop their price by buying them in bulk.
Yes, you might spend a little more upfront, but in the long run, this approach can reduce your spending by up to 30% or more.
Most wholesale stores also offer personal care products in bulk too, like soaps, shampoo and conditioner, razors and more.
9. Find out Which Regular Payments You Can Defer
Deferring necessary payments isn’t ideal by any means, but deferring rent or mortgage payments, cell phone bills, car payments, personal loans, and so on might let you keep a little cash in your pocket until you see some financial relief.
10. Save Energy at Home
If you’re ready to pack a punch, check the settings on your thermostat. In most states, springtime has pleasant temperatures. If this is the case where you live, then turn your thermostat off and open your windows instead.
If it’s too hot to cut the AC during the daytime, then you might be able to do it at nighttime when the temperature drops.
It might not seem like a big difference when you make a habit of turning out the lights when you leave a room, but little actions add up.
Depending on the size of your house, you could easily cut $50-100 off your monthly bills by paying attention to your utility costs.
11. Cancel Unnecessary Subscriptions
Lots of people have many magazines, online newspapers, Amazon subscriptions, meal deliveries, and other regularly-billed subscriptions.
If the subscription is for something you use regularly and would miss, keep it. If you don’t remember even ordering the subscription though, get rid of it!
How to Spend Less Money During COVID-19
The whole world is in uncharted waters right now. The most important thing for all of us is to stay healthy, physically, mentally, and of course, financially.
Remember, though, many people are having trouble making ends meet, so you aren’t the only one wondering how to spend less money.
That’s why there’s so much out there these days that’s free, discounted, or negotiable. While you can’t put off expenses indefinitely, you can definitely create some new habits to help you live lean during this time.
What tips do you have for how to spend less money? Let me know in the comments below.