How To Immediately Minimize Living Costs During the Coronavirus Pandemic

President Trump announced that the country would remain shut down for another month, and perhaps through the end of May. With June as the new benchmark for easing restrictions, millions of Americans must prepare to adjust activities and budgets to accommodate this new reality.

The US now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than any country in the world. With over 160 million people on lockdown and growing day to day, economists expect the unemployment rate to continue to rise over the next two months. In addition to a physical lockdown through stay-in-place orders, households impacted by the coronavirus must also lock down their finances.

Here’s how:

Stop the Following Payments

Subscriptions and automatic payments: Subscription services seem like small amounts each month, but the cost adds up and can further diminish an already strained budget.

  • Cancel or place a hold on any non-essential subscriptions. Households with multiple streaming services can trim down to a single provider. Review any music services, movie or gaming subscriptions, gym memberships, newspaper delivery, shave clubs, and software subscriptions.
  • Credit card statements will help identify most services, along with the cell phone and satellite bills.

Premium services: Many services offer a free version and a premium version. Canceling premium services and relying on free versions will lower monthly out of pocket costs immediately. There’s now so many things that are being offered for free because of this pandemic. Most likely you will find amazing recourses online from workouts to streaming movies.

Scrutinize Spending in the Following Areas

Food purchases: Move nearly all of the food budget to groceries. Resist the urge to order take out and save money by cooking at home. While quarantined, find simple recipes, try new dishes, and brush up on cooking skills. Many simple and inexpensive meals use foods found in most pantries.

  • Other ways to save on food include avoiding recipes that use high-cost ingredients, adding meatless meals to the menu, and planning the shopping list based on a specific menu.

Discretionary spending: The inability to visit restaurants, bars, movie theatres, and other entertainment venues can result in lower monthly costs. However, easy access to internet buying can defeat the savings.

  • To reduce the temptation to shop online, delete saved credit cards, cancel email newsletters from retailers, and adjust email delivery methods so promotional emails land in a separate inbox.

Gas and transportation needs: Stay-at-home orders should lower transportation costs as public transportation options operate on a reduced schedule, and gas prices fall. Auto lenders are working with borrowers on payment deferments for households affected by the pandemic, but vehicle insurance costs remain.

Insurance coverage: Review all insurance policies to identify ways to lower premiums without jeopardizing coverage in the event of a claim. Raising deductibles are an option if there is enough money available in savings to cover the difference.

  • Eliminate coverage redundancy. For example, an auto policy that includes towing does not increase the benefit if the policyholder also maintains an auto club membership that covers the same service. Medical payments and rental services are often redundant in auto policies.

Utilities deliver a degree of flexibility. Becoming more conscientious about power and water usage can lower utility bills and save money each month.

Final Thoughts

Uncovering ways to lower expenses requires scrutinizing every element of the budget. Eliminating budget waste, discretionary spending, and decreasing food costs will shrink the gap between income and expenses.

About The American Fair Credit Council

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