People across the globe are spending more time at home amid lockdowns and community quarantine orders meant to help slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. And this is a great opportunity to save some money since most of us are experiencing some sort of financial instability at the moment. In fact, this is how the current situation can potentially be financially detrimental to the working class.
Here are eight ways to save money during the coronavirus quarantine as you work from home or otherwise stay indoors:
1. Cancel subscriptions and memberships
In our "new normal," some monthly subscriptions (that we used to think of as essential) are pretty much useless right now. Take for example gym memberships – these won't be put to good use anytime soon.
Although many gyms have already put forth efforts in helping out the community by placing club membership fees on hold, it won't hurt to contact your local gym and pull the plug completely to make sure you won't get charged until it's all clear to go back to your routine gym workout session.
Another example is your streaming and cable subscriptions. If you're subscribed to both Netflix and cable, now is a good time to weigh in the pros and cons and figure out what subscription to hold on to.
You won't need both at this time – since your goal is to save as much cash as you can.
Tip: Make sure you look into these sooner rather than later - some subscriptions require a 30-day cancellation notice.
2. Defer your loan or credit card payments
Apple dealt with the current situation like a champ when they deferred March and April's payments for Apple card owners. In the face of this crisis, many citizens of the hard-hit countries are not able to pay bills on time (some even don't have the means to do so).
The banking industry is responding to this global pandemic by allowing deferred payments for up to 120 days and waiving fees or interests on certain financial products and services like credit cards and loans.
By providing financial relief for those who need it right now, customers who are experiencing financial hardship may be able to use any cash on hand for basic necessities first.
Contact your bank or financial service provider to see how they are offering financial aid during this time.
You can also check out this comprehensive list of participating banks in the US who responded to the crisis at hand.
3. Schedule your grocery shopping wisely
Since we are all advised to limit physical interactions with other people to flatten the curve, now is a great time to stretch your food budget, avoid food waste in your kitchen, and reduce your trips to the supermarket.
Plan your meals for a week (or two) in advance, check what you have and what you don't, then make a grocery list (to avoid impulse buying).
Make sure to always have staples on your list. Non-perishables such as canned meat/soups/vegetables/beans/fruits, crackers, frozen goods, and boxed food products are cost-efficient items that you can keep in your pantry for a while.
Just don't forget to disinfect your car and purchase (along with the bags and packaging). Also, check out the CDC's guidelines on safe grocery shopping.
4. Prepare and cook your own food
It shouldn't come as a surprise that more people are cooking at home. Imagine, if previously you were spending $30-$40 per meal in a restaurant at least thrice a week – those really add up quickly.
And even if you're not going out for date night lately, food delivery is all the rage these days. But those delivery fees can really take a big chunk out of your food budget if you're ordering more often than you should.
Just as you need to be a smart grocery shopper, you need to be a smart meal planner. You save money by using what's on hand, avoiding food waste, and planning ahead.
Watch cooking shows on Youtube or Netflix; you'll be amazed by what kind of home-cooked meals you're actually capable of preparing.
5. Grow your own food
Food manufacturers still maintain that there would be no food shortage. However, since we're all running out of things to do at home (and we're also looking for ways to further stretch our hard-earned dollars anyway), why not get into home gardening?
The good news is that plenty of fruits and vegetables are easy to grow. They will thrive whether you're gardening in a recycled container on your apartment patio or porch or a small patch of backyard plot.
Go for the beginner-friendly varieties like lettuce, tomato, and cucumber. Check out this post from Reader's Digest to know what you can grow easily in your home garden.
6. Change your diet
Ever since WHO officially announced COVID-19 a pandemic and lockdowns were ordered just about everywhere, we've seen the news showing people panic-buying at the supermarket to hoard and stock up while stuck at home.
This leads to impulsive purchases of comfort food – most of which are unhealthy (think potato chips, soda, etc.). What you can do at this time to save cash as well as adopt a healthier eating habit is by changing your diet.
Growing your healthy foods can be a precedent in changing your lifestyle by maintaining a healthy diet.
Not only will you benefit physically, but you also get to avoid buying unnecessary funky foods that aren't giving you the right nutrition while you save money on the side.
7. Find cheaper forms of entertainment
Though going through the motions of stay-at-home life can take up most of our day, we still get some downtime at night and during the weekends.
Dust off those books you've been meaning to read but just didn't have the time to. Take out those board games you kept because you'd rather chill and watch Netflix.
Also, jigsaw puzzles are having a moment lately. Now, you can unbox that 2000-piece puzzle your mother gave you two Christmases ago.
Look for ways to pass the time without spending a dime. When dinner and a movie is no longer an option, get creative with spending date night with your partner.
Have a cocktail at home. Start doing yoga together. You might even be inspired to start a business without shelling out an investment – check out our list here.
You'll be surprised by the savings that mount up from all these things you're not paying for.
8. Stay. At. Home.
It's that simple. Sitting this crisis out while still being productive (work from home, conduct business at home, etc.) is probably one of the best contributions you can make as a responsible citizen.
Use up fewer disposable items like surgical masks, gloves, and other protective gear.
You also get to save on laundry detergent and electricity since you won't be cleaning out sets of clothes you otherwise would have used if you have gone out.
That said, conserving a few bucks now could be helpful as folks wait for the stimulus checks from the Treasury Department.
Thoughts on saving money while on COVID-19 quarantine
This is a great time to set the foundation for more frugal spending. When the dust settles, and we start to go back to our normal lives, having that little cash you were able to save up in a short period of time could very well motivate you to see how much you can accomplish if you do more saving than spending. The key is to be proactive. Plus, you can never go wrong when building up cash. And the best way to do that is to change your spending habits.