Here are seven tips that can help you save money without leaving the house.
As we’ve all adjusted to new routines, work wardrobes, and physical interactions, it may also be a good time to re-evaluate your budget.
Even if you’ve physically returned to work—or maybe you’ve been working remotely—things won’t feel financially normal again for a long time. Rebuilding something, like an emergency fund, or boosting retirement savings may seem like next year’s work.
But it can be good to audit your spending in this new reality and re-assess your savings goals.
Here are a few tips you can start using today:
- Eliminate any “quarantine” spending that you don’t want to continue. Americans famously signed up for streaming services in huge numbers during the pandemic†, and lots of entertainment offers were excessively marketed during the “stay-at-home” orders.
Don’t forget to monitor those free trials that could potentially turn into monthly bills.
You may have signed up for other repeating services, like product delivery, that you don’t want. Check your credit cards for repeating charges that you can dial back on.
Meanwhile, monthly charges that were suspended and may have restarted—such as gym bills or parking passes for work—should be assessed, too. And check for competitive pricing and discounts that may be out there from businesses eager for new customers.
- Figure out what your household income and expenses really are. You may have operated on a monthly budget before COVID-19, but that budget could be out the window. There may be several new variables: a shorter work week, lower gas prices for a commute, more spent on cooking and less on food deliveries, or even adjustment to a reduction in a partner’s income.
With all these changes, it’s a good idea to invest some time in tallying up your monthly income to build a realistic budget based on your and your family’s new spending habits and expenses.
- Set a savings goal, especially if you dipped into your emergency fund. Contributing to your savings goals may feel out of reach right now, but keep in mind that the sooner you start the more time your savings will have to grow. Even small transfers can add up over time, helping you to rebuild or start an emergency fund.
Looking to save money in a way that fits your budget? Money Scout℠ can help.
It analyzes your spending habits, income, and upcoming expenses to find money that hasn't been used in your checking account—from $5 to $50—then moves it from your checking to your savings, automatically. The result: Small savings that can help move you toward your goals. Best of all, Money Scout can be found in The Hub—no new app required. To learn more, click here.
- Use your new monthly budget and savings goal to guide you. It’s natural to want to support small and local businesses, eat out, stop by your favorite café for a “hello” and a latte, and indulge in activities that were once a part of your daily routine but now can feel impossible with the importance of social distancing.
At the same time, you don’t want the added strain of overspending. Setting a monthly limit on your discretionary spending – the money not used for essentials like housing and food – and tracking it on a weekly basis is a good way to make sure you don’t overextend yourself financially‡
- Open a dedicated account for an emergency fund. If you didn’t have one before, start a dedicated account that is accessible, such as a savings account, but won’t tempt you to spend like a checking account might. Talk with your Huntington banker about a lower-cost account that would work for you, or you can apply online.
- Consider selling things you no longer need. Several weeks at home caused many of us to reassess priorities, but if you didn’t use those barbells or digital keyboard, you likely never will. Selling not only de-clutters but can help kickstart a savings account.
- Remember, be aware of how continuing bad news coupled with the sheer boredom of being stuck at home could affect your spending. Our emotional response to negative news, such as persistent unemployment rates or continued market volatility can derail us financially, notes Deborah Price, founder and CEO of the Money Coaching Institute.
“We may do things that will give us a shot of euphoria, like go online and buy new shoes. Things that are actually counterproductive,” she says.
Sitting on your purchase plans for 24 hours can help you guard against derailing your budget with impulsive spending.