A vast amount of people all around the world are dealing with some serious hardship thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amongst the worry of keeping you and your family safe, the uncertainty of your finances is probably weighing on your mind too. So how can you have the best of both worlds? Is it possible to keep your family safe and ensure your finances don’t fall behind? Take a look at these tips on staying safe and within budget during a pandemic.
Only buy what you need
A very simple premise, yet so easily ignored! Whilst the restrictions on what you can and can’t do are now relaxing, it’s totally understandable that you and your family might still be feeling cooped up. It’s easy to suggest a walk to the store to buy an ice cream, or a special meal for that night’s dinner just to get yourself out of the house. Or, perhaps you’ve found yourself spending more on activities for the children to do during lockdown. Wherever possible, only buy what you need to avoid accidental overspending. Find free activities to do with the family and take refreshments with you if it involves leaving your home – you’ll find that your money isn’t disappearing as quickly!
Opt for online whenever possible
Heading out into the world again when the virus is still very much a risk can be scary, and it’s understandable that you might be reluctant to head to busy shops to pick up the things you need. Luckily, we live in a world where you can order pretty much anything online – so utilise that! All you need is a device that connects to the internet and some data or a Wi-Fi signal. The great thing about online grocery shopping is that most of the time you’ll be able to have it delivered straight to your door. Alternatively, you can use a click and collect system if your shopping can’t be delivered in time. The great thing about online shopping is that you’ll be able to see special offers and exactly how much you’re spending before heading to the checkout; ergo keeping yourself within budget.
You should also consider opting for online private prescriptions rather than risking visiting your Doctor’s surgery or pharmacy to pick up any repeat or new prescriptions you may have. Whilst they have measures in place to help keep people safe, you can eliminate the risk altogether and have them delivered to your door.
Pay your bills on time
This might be another point that sounds rather obvious and you may also be wondering how it can help you stay within budget? Missing payments, even if only for a day or two can quickly mount up late payment charges. If you’re struggling to pay your bills, or you already owe money, then consider calling your utility providers to talk through your situation. At a time like this they are very likely to be more understanding about your situation, and have the ability to set up a payment plan. It’s also worth seeing if you’re able to switch to a cheaper tariff to help prevent this from happening again in the future. Put simply, always try and pay your bills on time.
You might be feeling overwhelmed keeping up with your mortgage payments, especially if you pay a large sum each month. Speak to your mortgage provider to see if you can take a mortgage payment holiday whilst you get your finances back on track. A mortgage holiday is usually between one and six months, but keep in mind that this will extend your mortgage by that long too.
Speak to your bank about any help they can give you
The one thing that’s on your side during this difficult time is that everyone is in the same boat. Banks are working hard to ensure their customers can stay on top of their finances. So, if you’re looking to talk about the overdraft you took out, or you’re simply looking for some advice on how to spend better, they can offer you some great advice. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Keep your money in your bank rather than withdrawing it for “safekeeping”. Your money is safe in your bank and if it were to go missing through no fault of your own, your bank can help you retrieve it. If it’s cash you’ve willingly withdrawn that becomes lost, your bank won’t be able to do anything.
- Open up a change saver account. Many banks such as Lloyds bank offer a service that transfers the odd bit of change on your spending into a separate account. So, if you spent £0.79, Lloyds would transfer the £0.21 into a separate account – and it mounts up faster than you think! This way you’re saving money without even thinking about it!
Pick up some freelance work
Now that furlough payments are dropping in percentage, you may be worried about how you’re going to make some extra money, especially if you’ve not been asked to return to work yet. Picking up some freelance work is a fantastic way of earning a pretty penny on the side! If you’ve got a skill such as a keen eye for graphic design, or you’re a stickler for proofreading content, then head to websites such as Upwork to apply for freelance work and make yourself some extra money!
Become self sufficient!
Finally, a much more long term but tried and tested way of staying within budget is by becoming as self sufficient as possible. Try these things to save yourself money in the long run:
- Plant and eat your own vegetables
- Walk instead of driving or using public transport
- Work out your own finances instead of paying a financial advisor to do the work for you
- Ditch your tumble dryer and use an airer or hang your clothes outside for one less bill and clothes that will last longer!
Staying safe is your priority during the pandemic, and with these tips you can do exactly that and stay on top of your finances!