A March 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center shows that 21 percent of US adults have high levels of psychological distress, and 34 percent among them stated that the pandemic is a threat to their financial situation. A January 2021 survey by the Center shows that the coronavirus pandemic is exacting a huge financial toll on the population. One-third of adults in the country lost their job or had someone in their household laid off since the start of the pandemic. Another third took a pay cut or had someone in their household do so.
People worry over basic things—18 percent about being able to buy enough food, 19 percent about being able to pay rent or mortgage, 25 percent about being able to pay bills, 20 percent about affording health care, 29 percent about having retirement savings, and 30 percent about growing debts. It is therefore time to tighten belts and cut costs in any way you can. When resources are scarce, you must allocate spending wisely.
If you have a mortgage, research whether you qualify for refinancing. This will mean a separate longer mortgage but lower monthly payments since mortgage rates are currently low.
You can also cash in your home equity and use it to pay off all your current debts such as credit card payables and an auto loan. The interest rates on those other debts are higher while mortgage interest rates are low these days. Unifying all your debts into your mortgage will result in savings on your monthly payouts.
If you are renting, check if you can move to cheaper accommodations. Some families go as far as moving to other states or smaller towns with a lower cost of living. This can be easier these days with many companies having remote work arrangements. Reduce your utility bills by regularly cleaning and maintaining your appliances. Appliances such as your air conditioner, heating system, and refrigerator, use more energy when they are not working efficiently. Replace them if they are beyond repair.
Explore the use of solar power for your entire home, or you can start with using solar-powered appliances and gadgets to see how much you can benefit from these.
Avoid home deliveries of food during the pandemic. Prepare your meals at home. Trim your food budget with careful meal planning. Buy lean and cheap cuts of meat and a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits. Grains and beans add healthy bulk to meals. Find tasty and nutritious recipes online and snack on fruits. Leave out overly processed food, sweets, soda, and junk food.
Have a list of things to buy when you go grocery shopping and resist the temptation of buying anything that is not on the list. Do not go to the supermarket when you are hungry because this will make you more vulnerable to impulse buying. Compare prices among brands of the products you are buying. Check if there are items in your list that are on sale. If there is more than one supermarket in your area, compare prices and buy from the cheaper store henceforth.
Check any paid memberships you have and cancel those that you can do without. If you have a gym membership, you can do your workouts at home instead. You can also exercise outdoors if your locality allows it. If you have cable, you can watch the news, TV shows, and movies online instead. Check if you have monthly payments that are direct debits on your credit card or bank account. You might have subscriptions to apps that you do not need.
Cut your hair if you feel that it is now unkempt. Otherwise, let your hair grow. Long hair is a trend during the pandemic.
Unless you have a specific condition that needs special care, shift to cheaper brands of your toiletries. You can try generic store brands of bath soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Buy the cheapest deodorant, toothpaste, and mouthwash.
Do not succumb to the ads for online shopping. You do not need to buy new clothes during the pandemic and your shoes are most probably still serviceable.
A Frugal Lifestyle
While it is natural to feel anxious during this health and economic crisis, you can cope better if you feel more control over your situation.
By following all health and safety protocols and getting a vaccine, you can do your share in protecting yourself, your family, and others against the further spread of Covid-19. Financially, you can also take the reins in your own life and your household by lowering expenses. Shifting to a frugal lifestyle will benefit you not only during the pandemic but even beyond it.