6 tips for managing money during uncertain times
During uncertain times, it’s natural to feel concerned about money. You may not have lost your job, however, you might experience anxiety over what could happen to your family’s financial situation. And anxiety can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health.
Identifying where your money goes, finding ways to save more, and minimizing your current spending can help you feel more in control of your money matters when you’re living in turbulent times. Use these tips to help you manage your money today and put yourself in a stronger position when things return to normal.
1. Managing money well takes time
Even in good times, money matters can be stressful. However, it’s important to give yourself time to learn how to manage your money well so you can make the best financial choices for your family and your finances.
Set aside a few hours each week to work on your financial literacy. Set aside 20 minutes a day or an hour on the weekend to learn about money management. You’ll find online articles on financial topics including:
- Protecting and building your credit score
- Managing debt
- Building emergency savings
- Starting a financial plan
Taking the time now to understand your finances can help you build a plan of action to get through the times and create a solid foundation for the future.
2. Create a household budget
If you don’t use a household budget, now’s the time to create one. Managing money is difficult when you don’t track your personal expenses, regular debt payments, and household income.
Whether you choose to use a free budgeting app, the basic envelope budget method, or even an Excel spreadsheet, creating a budget and sticking to it will help you spot problem areas.
3. Review your spending and personal expenses
What’s on your list of regular automatic withdrawals? Without a regular review, it’s easy to fall into the subscription creep trap. Subscription creep happens when you find yourself paying for subscriptions to services, courses, or memberships that you just don’t use anymore.
Check your credit card bills and/or bank statements for automatic withdrawals. Cancel the ones you no longer use or need. Also check your other regular personal expenses. Review each one for opportunities to cut your costs.
Bundling services, downgrading to a cheaper plan, asking your service provider for a discount, or switching service providers could help. You’d be surprised how often you can get a better deal by just asking.
And if you’re struggling with payments, ask your lenders about debt consolidation or a payment plan.
4. Minimize online shopping
When you’re trying to cut expenses, minimize your impulse shopping. Impulse buying is a budget-breaker and can make managing money tough. In today’s world, online shopping provides a tempting distraction from the news stories of uncertain times. However, it’s also a quick way to find yourself overspending.
Minimize your online shopping by sticking to a list and setting a maximum spending amount. Practice self-discipline, and once your online shopping cart includes the items on your list, check out! Hanging around that online shop could lead to more impulse buying.
5. Find creative ways to save
Cutting your personal costs and reducing your spending will help you save money. And saving is a key activity for managing money during uncertain times.
In addition to cancelling unused online subscriptions and minimizing your online shopping activities, look for other ways to shave a few dollars off your regular spending.
For example, cut food costs by planting a kitchen garden. Sprout dried beans between two damp paper towels, then planting them in compost you create from your vegetable scraps, eggshells and coffee grounds. Other vegetables to grow from scraps include peppers, onions, garlic, and lettuce.
Use a meal plan to make the most of local supermarket sales prices and look for recipes where you can use leftovers for soups and stews.
6. Build your emergency fund
A healthy emergency fund can help you weather uncertain times. An emergency fund of 3-6 months’ worth of expenses provides funds to use for regular household bills should your income suddenly stop due to job loss, illness, or other factors that could be completely beyond your control.
Even when times are tough, you can find creative ways to build your emergency fund. Start by applying some of the money saved through the above cost-cutting activities to your fund.
Next, look through your attic, garage, and basement for unused or gently used items to sell through local online classifieds or Facebook groups. Small kitchen appliances, sports equipment, and seasonal clothing could be good options.
In turbulent or uncertain times, it’s understandable to feel anxious about the things you can’t control. By it’s also important to understand that by becoming aware of your spending, cutting costs and boosting your savings, you can make wiser financial choices right now. Take action to protect your family financially so you’re in the best position possible when the situation changes.