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How to Budget During COVID-19

How to Budget During COVID-19

Budgeting. Everyone needs to do it. Whether you are a student or a full-time worker, making and managing your money is hard! Add an uncertain future from a pandemic into the mix, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. 

The Financial Post confirms that budgeting is even more important during this year of crisis (aka during COVID-19). For example, the Bank of Canada has dropped interest rates to an “unprecedented 0.75%” for any future economic uncertainties. The Credit Counselling Society warns to not back down from being hypervigilant with your finances. Now is the time to prepare for the economic impact of a post-COVID-19 world. 

Here are FBI STYLE”s best tips to keep in control of your finances, and become a budgeting pro!

  1. Plan and Prep! Make a meal plan and grocery list that you can stick to. Prep your food for the week in advance so that you aren’t tempted to order in. A great website to use is MyFridgeFood which gives you recipes using ingredients you already have. Don’t know what to do with that leftover rice, ground beef, or carrots? Type it in and bam, you have dinner’s mystery solved.
  2. Buy from the reduced section of the grocery store. Many items are more than fine to eat,  they just may be a little bruised or about to expire–meaning you can still eat them the day of or they could be frozen for future use (like bananas for smoothies or banana bread, yum!).
Batch cook staples like rice and chicken or beans and wash vegetables in advance to save time.

3. Do your research before going grocery shopping, and stay on the hunt for deals and coupons. Use websites like SaleWhale to find the cheapest products or get flyers emailed to you by signing up for Save.ca. 

4. Ditch your car and invest in a bike. You’ll save big on insurance and gas, and with most businesses still operating from home, you’ll be traveling less anyway.  Not only will you be saving money, but biking is also better for the environment and will help you build those leg muscles!

5. Simple changes in your home can also help you reduce your monthly expenses. Close your lights and unplug your appliances/ electronics when they are not in use; try to use high-powered electricity and water (ie. showering, using the laundry machine or dishwasher, etc.) only during off-peak hours (which varies by province), and review your statements to track areas where you can cut back.

Keep track of your expenses and see what changes you can incorporate

6. See what deals or promotions you can get from your phone/internet/television service provider. Usually, there are specials that come up that current clients won’t know of. Also, see if you can cut out any television channels that you don’t regularly use to further reduce your bill.

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7. Don’t be sucked into the dangerous world of online shopping. Although you may be bored at home and thinking you are saving money by not going out, those $100 pair of jeans that look so nice online are still that $100 pair of jeans that you may overlook in stores. 

8. Check-in on your bank accounts to make sure there are no mischarges–there’s a lot of fraud going on out there (and don’t be afraid to call your bank to dispute a charge)! CNBC Select money reporter covering credit, Elizabeth Gravier, says that hackers may be “using our vulnerability” during this time and take advantage. She recommends ways to protect our credit, especially during the coronavirus, here.

(Not-so little) purchases on your credit card(s) add up. Be wary of where you’re spending your hard-earned money!
  1. Looking for some entertainment? There is no better time to see all the things you would usually pay big bills for–there are many free shows and concerts happening virtually. Check out Billboard’s list of live streams and virtual concerts happening during the coronavirus, and Andrew Loyd Webber’s The Shows Must Go On which features full performances of live-stage musicals. Now is also the time to do some touring of popular places for (you guessed it) no cost, and no line-ups either! For example, virtually tour Rome’s Vatican Museums, the great Pyramids of Giza, or even Machu Picchu in Peru.
Get a panoramic view of Peru’s Machu Picchu. One of the world’s greatest heritage sites.
  1. Don’t give up on looking for current and future job opportunities. There are still many jobs that allow (or require) you to work remotely, you just have to keep doing your research and have a back-up plan for your back-up plan. Applying for jobs is work on its own, so it would also keep you busy while avoiding your full cart on Amazon. 

Not only are these tips good for the current emergency financial crisis, but they can also benefit you in the long run. If you aren’t saving now, what are you waiting for? 

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