How to Save Money, Even During a Pandemic
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Today’s current situation isn’t fun and for many families it’s causing a lot of financial strain. But, even as you push through and work to keep your family happy and healthy, there are a few things you can do to lower your bills and potentially even save some money.
Remember, your local credit union is already helping you save money by offering lower loan rates, higher savings rates and less fees. If you’re not already a member of Signet, see about becoming one soon!
Here are some tips every family can use to tackle today’s finances and save a few dollars:
- Make the right move on your student loans. Have Federal Student Loans? You have a couple of options:
- Federal Student Loan borrowers have been automatically placed in administrative forbearance due to COVID-19. This means you could paying monthly through September 30, 2020 if your loans qualify. So, if you’ve lost your job and are struggling to make payments right now, this is some relief from the federal level. Read more about it and make sure your loans qualify, here.
- If you’re still working and you feel secure in your job, you can actually end up saving money in the long run. Pay as much as you are able on your Federal Student Loans between now and September 30, 2020 and you’ll be paying down your principal without continuing to accrue more interest. Is your interest rate 6% on most of your Federal Student Loans? Right now, it’s 0%! That means the more you can lower your principal balance today, the less you’ll be paying interest on when this relief lifts at the end of September.
- Or, if your loans do qualify but you have other loans that still have a high interest rate, focus on those loans instead. Get these paid down as much as you can before your Federal Student Loan interest rates return.
Here’s a great article to help you decide if paying or not paying on your Federal Student Loans is the right move for you.
- Spend your food budget wisely. Though you’re spending more money on groceries, making your own meals will generally be cheaper than eating out. So here are two things to remember as you’re working to stretch the dollar during this time:
- Stock up on affordable staples: If you’re unemployed and have limited funds, stock up on staple foods that will help keep your family full without overspending. We’ve created a list for you here that includes things like peanut butter, rice, beans and more. There are even a few recipes to try.
- Plan ahead: With free grocery pickup at many grocery stores, you can fully plan your shopping trips a few days in advance. Check with your grocery service to see if you can add items even after you’ve submitted your order. So, if you forgot to add eggs to your order you can do it as long as they haven’t begun shopping for you yet. How does this save you money? You can fully plan your meals out for the next week or two and only purchase what you need for that amount of time. You don’t have a screaming toddler wanting you to buy that sugary cereal and you’re not hungrily grabbing everything you see that looks good in the store. You’re purchasing what you need for the meal plan you’ve created. No excess and no waste.
- Always ask. If you’re struggling to pay bills it never hurts to ask if there are options available to you. If you have a loan with Signet, we encourage you to contact your loan officer and discuss what relief might be available to you. You can read more here about how we’re helping during this time.
- Re-evaluate your budget. We do harp on budgets a lot here, but they are so necessary no matter how much money you make. Now is a great time to rethink what you’re spending money on and what you want to be spending money on. Here are a few things to look into that could help you save money right now:
- Cancel unnecessary subscriptions. We’re not saying you have to get rid of entertainment in your life, but switch to free resources or limit yourself to just one subscription instead. Remember that your local library most likely has online resources available to you, even now. Check out your library’s Hoopla and KY Libraries Unbound resources for free ebooks, audiobooks and even movies. If you don’t have a library card, many local libraries are still able to offer a digital library card at this time, so give them a call.
- Look for opportunities to lower your bills. Is there a lower priced phone service? Do some research and explore your options. Is your internet or TV service up for renewal? Call and ask for a lower cost plan. Even something as simple as striving to use less electricity could be helpful at this time. Every morning open up all the curtains so natural light is used over light switches. Use your crockpot or even your grill outside so you can keep from using your stove or oven. This keeps your house from quickly heating up and causing your air conditioner to run unnecessarily.
- Limit your use of disposable items. We all know products like cleaning supplies and paper towels have been harder to find. Plus, they can quickly get pricey if you use too many too quickly. Instead, cut up old t-shirts to use as rags when cleaning. Use rags and kitchen towels to wash dishes, clean your counters/table and wash your hands.
- Don’t throw it in the laundry unless it’s actually dirty. If you’re staying home all the time you’re probably not getting as dirty as you would if you’re out and about. Maybe you can wear those jeans a few times or maybe you can reuse bath towels for a few days. This helps minimize the number of loads you’re washing, which helps your electric and water bills and you’re preserving your detergent.
- Hang clothes to dry. You’ll be surprised at how much energy you can save by 1. Not using your dryer. 2. Not heating up the house because you’re using your dryer. Hang clothes on a line outside or even just on your shower curtain rod in the bathroom.
- Start a garden. Now, this one does take a little funding to get started and some expertise. But, it could end up saving you money over the course of the Summer months if your garden has a high yield. Do your research though and learn what grows best in our climate, when the best time is to plant and how to keep bugs and animals from eating your plants. Plus, this makes for a great family activity from planting, to weeding to picking the produce!
- Sell your old items. There are still people willing to purchase items if you can sell it in a socially distanced way. Do you have old furniture, electronics or clothes that you’ve been thinking of getting rid of? Try selling a few things on Facebook Marketplace or Ebay. Or, if you’re in a good place financially, consider donating these items once charities begin taking physical donations again.
Remember, we’re here to help see our Signet members through these challenging days. Check out more articles and tips on saving money here.