Guest Author: Morgen Henderson
Even with the already devastating disruption to our lives, the financial effect of COVID-19 on individuals and families is yet to be felt. In the coming weeks and months, many households will need to tighten their budgets to make ends meet. To that end, we’ve gathered some simple tips that will save you money. So, put lockdown time to good use. Start adopting these five habits to better financial security.
Environmentally conscious folks win twice: they help save the planet and their hard-earned money. That’s because many everyday energy-saving tips — like turning down your water heater thermostat or managing your electronics — also lower your monthly utility bills. But remember, energy-saving habits don’t result in dramatic changes. Unless you install solar panels and completely get off-grid, you probably won’t notice much of a change in the first few months. Instead, financial benefits are incremental, adding up over the year for some serious savings.
For many items, renting makes more sense than buying. Certainly, renting an apartment has its upsides. But don’t put your house on the market just yet. Instead, survey smaller purchases for their rentability factor. Those snow skis you bought for your winter getaway probably cost you more than if you’d rented from a local shop. And what about those tools you bought for that one project but never use anymore. Then there’s the treadmill that’s currently serving as a clothes rack in your bedroom. Get the idea?
All these items can be rented for a fraction of the cost and headache. And with today’s sharing economy in full swing, you can use online rental sharing sites to rent almost anything.
When estimating the value of a good or service, most consumers calculate the return of their investment. Will the emotional or financial benefits be worth the investment in money? This is a good start, but simply looking at a price tag doesn’t tell you whether you’re buying something you need or something you want.
One financial hack is to gauge an item’s “value” by the number of hours you’d need to work to buy it. If a new iPhone costs $800, and you make $10 dollars per hour, would you really work two weeks to get one? Maybe not. One thing humans are good at is estimating physical and mental effort. Use that natural inclination to keep yourself from buying things you don’t need or can’t afford.
Use lists to manage your grocery shopping and save money. To keep track of your items, use a to-do app like Evernote or OneNote. Mobile apps like these are a convenient and fast way to build, access, and manage your cupboard items. The best part is, any type of grocery list helps you stick to your food budget better. No more impulse buying. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go in the cart.
And with a digital app, you never have to create a grocery list from scratch again. Just input all your kitchen staples and add others as you need them. Place checkboxes next to each item. This makes it easier to construct your list before you leave. And once you’re at the store, you can uncheck items as they go in the cart. That way, you know you haven’t forgotten anything.
Pricey cable and satellite subscriptions are becoming less popular, as more consumers switch to cheaper streaming services like Netflix and Disney+. And cutting the cord is an easy way to save on your monthly entertainment budget if you do it right. Streaming services for movies, sports, and live TV give you more customizable options that let you choose a la carte programming. You pay only for the content you want to see, not filler content you have to filter through.
But remember, don’t go overboard trying to chase all your favorite shows. It’s easy to rack up a hefty monthly bill by adding multiple streaming subscriptions. And you actually end up paying more than if you’d stayed with cable. Use streaming providers that cater to specific genres. There are plenty out there that specialize in everything from horror films to documentaries. The more you zero in on the content you love, the fewer subscriptions you’ll need.
About the Author: Morge is a business, sustainability, and tech writer from Salt Lake City. When she’s not typing away at a new piece, you can find her exploring the mountains and baking her favorite treats. Find more of her work at https://hendersonmorgend.contently.com/.