I never thought that my next blog post would be on how to save during a pandemic. But, here we are. This post is a little longer, so stay with me.
We are all in different aspects of this pandemic. Some are working from home, some are unable to work from home and are out of a paycheck, while others are in the trenches working in healthcare, grocery stores, banks, and restaurants. While this pandemic does not look the same for all of us, I do believe that this is a time that everyone can save somewhere.
Mortgage payments, rent, auto loan payments, and electric bills- just to name a few. These expenses do not stop for many of us. If you have a hardship and cannot pay your bills, now is the time to reach out to those billers and see what your options are. Below are some examples of options that I have seen available.
- Utility Bills – Many utility companies are suspending shutoffs during this time. This means that if you cannot pay, they will keep your utilities on. Also, check your utility companies’ websites for other discounts and freebies. For example, CenterPoint Energy offers free showerheads and faucet aerators and appliance rebates.
- Mortgage/Rent/Auto Loans – It is possible that you can defer payments until your hardship is over. I recommend contacting your lender or property owner to see if they have options for you.
- TV Services – Most cable and satellite companies already offer pausing. This will allow you to pause your services until your hardship is over. This allows you to pay a very small fee to keep your services, so that you do not have to pay a fee to get out of a contract. During this time, you can utilize much cheaper options, like Netflix and Hulu. If you have been wanting to cancel your TV services, check and see if they will waive your cancellation fees.
- Internet Services – Contact your local internet services company to see if they are offering free or discounted services for a period of time. Comcast/Xfinity is currently giving all of their customers unlimited internet until May.
- Other Expenses – Now is the time to shop rates to save on expenses. My brother recently told me that he shopped insurance rates and saved $2300 annually on his home and auto policies. Another tip for TV, phone, and internet expenses is to periodically contact the companies to see if they have any customer loyalty discounts.
Banking is essential during this time. I have listed some tips below for you when it comes to your banking needs.
- Fees – Many financial institutions are trying to help customers any way they can during this time. Check with your financial institutions to see if they have any changes to fees.
- Mobile Banking – During this time, utilize mobile banking via your financial institution’s online banking. Online banking can help you pay bills, balance your checking account, make deposits, transfer funds, open an account, and so much more.
- There are many options for businesses as well. Now is the perfect time to look into direct deposit for your employees and start accepting credit/debit cards if you have not already started.
We all need groceries and apparently a lot of toilet paper. Now is a great time to save while you shop for groceries and other essential items. Here are some tips on saving and staying socially distant.
- Coupons and Coupon / Cash Back Apps – Some of you may be thinking that using coupons is the last thing that you should be doing when you are trying to get in and out of a grocery store. If you are organized, using coupons can be beneficial and will not take a lot of time.
- Make your list ahead of time by using your local grocery store’s app. When I shop for groceries, I then delete the items as I put them in my cart. Put your coupons in a call accordion folder or an envelope. As you add items to your cart, move the coupons you will use to the front of the folder or envelope.
- Utilize mobile apps with electronic coupons. My favorites are Ibotta, Checkout 51, Saving Star, Coupons, and Shop Kick. Many retailers also have electronic coupons, like Dollar General and Kroger. You can add your coupons when you make your list and use your phone number at checkout to save.
- Cash back apps. Many apps will allow you to connect your card to get cash back. My favorites are Dosh and Drop for automatic saving. Fetch Rewards allows you to scan all grocery receipts for instant cash back. Trunow also gives you rewards on gas receipts. While you are scanning, do not forget to scan your grocery receipts to the Box Tops app to help your local school.
- Pickup or Delivery Options – Order your essentials online and pick them up at the store or have them delivered for a small fee. Some stores offer a trial period for free delivery and pickup. Walmart pickup is always free. There are also websites available such as Shipt and Instacart that will deliver your groceries to your doorstep.
- Meal Plan – By planning your meals, you can know exactly what you need before grocery shopping. This can save you time and money. Also, plan your meals to have leftovers for the next day. This saves money and keeps you from having to fix another meal. You can also have a leftover night. Your family can pick which leftovers they want to eat.
- Buy in Bulk – Buy larger packages of items if possible, but do not buy more than your family can use. By purchasing larger packages, you usually can save per item.
- Take Inventory – Look in your pantry, fridge, and freezer and see what meals you can make without buying many groceries. You will probably be surprised at what you can make with what you already have.
I know that not everyone can shop right now, but if you can then now is a perfect time to get deals on items you will need in the future. Many online retailers are having major sales and offering free shipping. Here are some tips on items you can save on by purchasing now.
- Home Items. Since we have more time on our hands right now, spend some time cleaning and redecorating each room. If you do it now, you can get some great deals on the replacement items.
- Wedding Items. If you are getting married, why not use this time to find the items that you need?
I hope these tips help during this time. Just remember to stay home if you can, and wash your hands.