Nearly nine in 10 Americans are stressed out financially during the pandemic and over 50% now say they’re living paycheck to paycheck with some debt which is no surprise as a staggering 51.3 million Americans have filed for unemployment from the start of the pandemic.
Here are 5 tips to pandemic proof your budget and manage your money in these tough economic times with Money Saving Expert, Andrea Woroch.
Negotiate and lower your bills. Call your service providers and ask how they can help lower your bill without changing your services. Run a competitive analysis to leverage in your negotiation. When it comes to your mobile plan, opt for a lower data plan since you can hook up to your home Internet for free and raise your car insurance deductible since you’re not driving as much and less likely to get into an accident. Sites like BillCutterz can help negotiate your bills for you if you don’t have time to deal with the hassle.
Create financial safety nets.Saving money should be your top priority especially if you don’t have any savings set aside. Building that emergency fund is essential for getting through any tough economic time in case you lose your job or income is reduced. To get started, figure out how much you’re saving while not spending on commuting costs or paying for your child’s extracurricular activities and put that toward a separate savings account.
Another important part of your financial safety net is setting up a will as well as buying life insurance. The good news is you can set up an online will right from home without paying high legal fees through TrustandWill.com which makes it easy and affordable to create an online will in a matter of minutes for just $89. They provide step by step guidance to help you get everything set up and your will includes important documents such as healthcare directives, guardianship for your children and power of attorney. Plus, they have a life chat support to answer any questions.
Manage debt and protect your credit.If you’re credit card debt is becoming harder to manage, look for a new card offering 0% interest on balance transfers which can buy you more time to pay down this debt without any added fees. Otherwise, consider consolidating your debt with one, low-interest personal loan to help you save on high interest fees.
You also want to protect your credit score and take steps to rebuild it–check out apps like Self which offer credit builder loans. You make small monthly payments to yourself over the course of 1 to 2 years while they report the payments and balance to all 3 credit bureaus. At the end of the term, the money you’ve paid every month unlocks in the form of savings less any fees while building your credit score.
Make money from home.If you are out of work or looking to supplement your income, there are so many options for earning extra income right from home. You can become a virtual tutor through sites like Varsity Tutors or make up to $1,000 extra a month by pet sitting and dog walking through sites like Rover.com. Other ideas include, freelancing through Flexjobs.com or becoming a virtual assistant and helping people in your community with yard work or other errands through TaskRabbit.com. You can even make money taking online surveys through sites like SurveyJunkie.com.
Take advantage of free services.From online education courses to digital streaming services, you can find free service alternatives to help you save money. Instead of signing up for another video streaming or audio book membership, check with your local library as they may offer digital platforms like Hoopla, Overdrive and Kanopy where you can borrow and stream movies, TV shows/cartoons, video games and even get access to online tutoring at no cost. You can find free education courses through Khan Academy and free digital kids books at Audible. Check out EveryoneOn.org for free Wifi and computer resources in your area. Even your mobile provider may offer free video streaming services— Spring is offering a free subscription to Hulu and Verizon offers a free year of Disney plus, for instance.