We have officially been in quarantine for four months (or longer) and the reality is beginning to set in that life as we know it may be gone forever. We now experience a world that is covered in masked faces and personal space. Limits on store occupancy, empty tissue shelves and blocked tables in restaurants may be the new norm for some time. As odd as all of these things may be, the financial turbulence is probably the scariest part. Some of our "safe jobs" have proven not to be that safe. Our children attending school as a form of childcare, has been snatched from right under our feet. And staying afloat is probably the biggest concern for many of us, especially us single income households.
In this post I will touch base on a few ways that we can focus on cutting corners so that we can keep as much of our money as possible during this financially shaky time. Make sure that you don't just make cutbacks in one area to then blow the money elsewhere. Now is the time to make sure you have a healthy emergency fund to best prepare you for whatever may be next. Make wise investments that will pay you and stay diligent about expanding your income streams.
Saving on Food
So at this point we have all realized that our kids have a completely different stomach when they attend school. Somehow they can survive off of breakfast, snack and lunch until 4pm during the school year. But, while at home they need a pre-breakfast snack, breakfast, another snack, lunch, another snack, brunch, another snack and pre-dinner before 4pm. I have no idea how this happens. Here's a couple tips to save your dollars and your sanity:
Plan your meals, if you know what your kids are going to eat for their primary meals, you are a lot less likely to let them binge on chips, yogurt cups and fruit snacks.
Set a schedule, just like at school, there should be a designated time to eat. Allowing them to eat breakfast too late pushes back plans for all other meals and leaves the mid-rising and midday snack gate wide open.
Reduce the amount of meat you are buying and eating, we are pretty vegetarian most days, but I have been told by multiple sources that meat prices are sky-rocking due to COVID.
Check out this blog: 7 Ways to Save on Food Costs
Purchase a copy of my book: Saving Money & Time in the Kitchen to learn all my tips on how I saved over $3,000 on food in one year, use code SAHM to save 15%
Saving on In-house Expenses
Staying home more means you are now using more toiletries and cleaning supplies. Some of these items include tissue, paper towels, hand soap and dishwashing liquid. It doesn't help that some of these items are in high-demand and thus not easily accessible. Here are my tips on how to ensure you and your family are covered.
More often times that not these items are overpriced online so buy them in-store when possible.
Shop early and don't be selfish. Many of these items are restocked quite often you just have to get to them in time, generally in the rising. In the event that you get there and the shelves are full, don't buy 100 rolls of toilet paper, get 6-12 and do the same next week if possible. That way you will be well stocked but you won't be preventing five other families from having tissue. The same thing goes for Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer. As I type this blog these things can be found quite easily in our stores, so make sure you get some even if you don't need it now because a second wave of COVID is predicted. Which will mean bare shelves and skyrocket pricing for these in-demand items.
Don't discount the dollar stores. When I couldn't find hand sanitizers at any of the major stores such as Walmart, Target or Kroger I took my chances and swung by a dollar store. Guess what? They had plenty in stock. I'm not sure if people just hadn't looked there or if they were refilling their inventory faster but they had it. The same was true a week later when I was in search of tissue.
Buy the larger size. When it comes to things like hand soap and dishwashing liquid, the price per ounce is generally cheaper when you buy a larger bottle. I buy the refill bottles of hand soap which I believe is about 1.5 liters. I pay about 7-8 cents an ounce for soap this size. If I was to buy the smaller bottles I pay about 13-14 cents per ounce. The price difference may be small but it adds up over time. I never throw my small bottles out, I just refill them when they become empty.
Don't buy things that you don't use/need. I don't care what the news tells you is going to keep you safe this week, don't feed into the hype, especially when you can't afford it. Eating clean, building your immune system and staying away from people, will be the top preventative measures that you can count on.
Utilities are also increasing during this time because everyone is on with the lights on, charging their phones, etc. Be sure to check out this blog for tips to save on your utility bills: 13 Ways to Cut Your Utility Bills
Cutting Back on Retail/Online Shopping
Being stuck in the house is boring, trust me I know, but do not try to compensate with impulsive Amazon and FashionNova shopping sprees. If you haven't received a pay cut during this time, you are definitely blessed and I won't tell you to not spend ANY money. But, I will suggest that you be sure to develop an emergency savings to prepare for the worse before you just go on a shopping frenzy. Have at least one month's of bills saved, but it's best to be prepared for 3-6 months worth of expenses in a time like this. Here's my tips on not going too crazy when online/retail shopping:
First, review the gap between your income and expenses. Be sure to put some of this towards savings, some towards investing and whatever is left can be used for fun.
Never online shop without giving yourself a budget and be sure to stick to it! If you are giving yourself $200 to spend this week, don't play yourself by spending $150 today and $100 tomorrow. When you're $50 short for something that matters you're going to regret clicking that "Add to Cart" button.
If you are a parent, set some of that fun money aside and invest in your child's future. Those Jordans and name brand t-shirts aren't going to do anything for his future. You can open up a custodial investment account or open up a minor savings account to get started. To learn more about ways you can set your child up for a successful future I would recommend that you check out my newest book: Breaking the Chains: Teaching Your Kids the Money Lessons You Weren't Taught and just because I know you like to save money, use code kids to save 10% today!
If you have received a pay cut. Go ahead and cut back on the fun. I know you aren't going to the club and out to eat like usual, but maybe treat yourself to something small. While at the grocery store get the items to make fresh margaritas. Maybe pick up a drink from your favorite local coffee spot before clocking in to work. Get yourself a few candles, some bubble bath and a face mask for a mini-spa session/.
I hope these tips have been useful and assist you with your current financial situation. I hope that you have used this time to research and add streams of income into your life. Being solely dependent on one stream of income has left many individuals in a few bad spot with over 14 million people losing their jobs since February. I have had many clients step out on faith and start their businesses during this time because honestly what more do we have to lose? Taking a chance on yourself can put you and your family in a better position than you've ever been in.
If you are interested in starting your own business, I would love to help you. I am currently on Maternity Leave until October 1st but I would suggest that go ahead and book your session now if you would like to work with me. Until then, brainstorm your idea, your name, your brand, products and services. The top three services that new businesses generally book are:
Initial Intake Call: A thirty minute call to help you brainstorm, develop a plan of action and answer all your new business questions.
Business Formation Session: A service that registers/incorporates your business on the federal and state level so that you can obtain a business bank account, file your taxes appropriately and operate legally as a business.
All Inclusive Business Startup Package: A complete set of services that are needed by new business owners including website development, business incorporation, marketing plan and so much more.
Click here to read some reviews from previous clients. I look forward to working with you and helping your business shine! Stay healthy and safe!