VAN NUYS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--We are all looking for ways to save money to help us through this crisis. With this in mind, we’ve compiled some effective hacks that could alleviate some of the financial anxiety you may be feeling. You might well be exercising some of these ideas already. For example, you’re probably not driving as much as you used to, so in return you’re not filling up on gas and you’re saving money as a result. Going out to eat isn’t much of an option either. That being said, here are some other ideas you probably haven’t already considered.
1. Lower Your Car Insurance
One of the factors used to calculate the cost of your car insurance is the number of miles you drive. Since many of us are now working from home, this is a perfect time to try to lower your insurance payments by reporting a lower mileage. Depending upon your insurance company, this could result in some significant savings.
2. Plan Your Meals
Creating a weekly menu, and planning your meals in advance, can help you budget more effectively. Besides having a better idea of how much you’ll spend, it can help prevent yourself from impulsively buying food - or having to order in because you don’t have anything to eat. Beyond this, try limiting your trips to the store by resisting the urge to “just pop out and pick something up.” Plan your shopping to cover 1 to 2 weeks; buying in bulk will also save you lots of money. Lastly – and perhaps most importantly – limiting your trips to the store keeps you out of harm’s way and helps to enforce “social distancing.”
3. Plan Your Visits to the Grocery Store
Chances are, you’re at home much more and using the internet a lot more too. Instead of reading the gloomy news, why not look online for coupons to save money on the items you need? And while you’re shopping at the store, consider buying store brand items instead of the more expensive name brands. Many are made by the brands themselves, so you won’t be compromising quality while you’re saving money. Be sure to also check the top and lower shelves as they often have goods at lower prices. (Incidentally, if you’re lucky enough to find a refrigerator full of milk or juice, go for the cartons at the back. The cartons at the front are the ones set to expire sooner, so the store places them at the front to sell them first.)
4. Keep Fit for Free
We hope your gym isn’t currently charging for your membership, but you still need to keep in shape. Go outside and run instead, but make sure to be safe while doing this. You can also take advantage of digital resources like the Gold’s Amp app from Gold’s Gym. This fitness and training app includes custom workouts, coaching and music and is free until the end of May. Core Power Yoga is also free this month and Echelon is giving a free 90 trial of its Fitpass app.
5. Refinance Your Mortgage
Mortgage rates are currently at their lowest levels and saving a couple of hundred dollars a month could really go a long way. Before you sign, make sure the drop in interest is enough to offset any closing costs.
6. Why Buy When You Can Create?
Thanks to panic-buying, some essential items like hand sanitizer are in short supply right now. But did you know you can make your own at home? For example, Everclear and Aloe Vera can be mixed to make hand sanitizer. Out of cleaning solutions? White vinegar is a mild disinfectant and a great cleaning agent. (Hydrogen peroxide can also be used in this way.) Old sponges that were used for cleaning the dishes can now be used to clean the bathroom. Missing a sock from the laundry? Use it as a Swiffer pad.
7. Take Advantage of the Aid Programs
There are many relief programs the government has implemented in response to the COVID-19 virus. If you owe money on a student loan, there are programs to help you defer payments. Have a small business? You might be able to take a low interest or forgivable loan to keep your business afloat. Individuals can apply for unemployment benefits, with many states waiving the waiting period.
8. Talk to Your Landlord
If you think you may have difficulty paying the rent, don’t wait until the last minute to take action. Reach out to your landlord and tell them the issues you’re having as a result of the coronavirus and ask for assistance. Many states have already introduced preventative measures to ensure landlords can’t evict tenants and allow for an extension on the rent that’s due.
9. SNAP & Food Pantries
There is likely food available if you’re experiencing a financial strain during this crisis. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was created for those in need, offering “food cash” to help offset those expenses. Food pantries and/or banks also make food available at no charge.
10. Contact Your Credit Card Company
Many credit card companies already have programs in place to help you defer payments – but like the rent, don’t wait until you’re behind before taking action. Check with your credit card company to see what options are available to you. You might be able to freeze the interest and reduce the payments to something you can afford.
11. Order Food Directly From the Restaurant
Many of us use food delivery services when we’re ordering in meals, but try ordering directly from the restaurant instead. You’ll save on the delivery charge and more of the cost will go directly to the restaurant.
12. Do You Really Need Those Subscription Services?
We get it. You’re stuck at home and your only source of entertainment is the TV and cat videos on Facebook. Going to a concert, the movies or the theater is no longer an option, and you might find yourself subscribing to additional channels so you still have something to binge watch. But do you really need them all? Some shows and movies are on multiple streaming services, while you might be able to watch others for free, so consider pressing pause on some of those services. For example, Vudu has a large library of great movies and TV shows you can watch for free. There’s no subscription fee, but you’ll need to watch a few ads both before and during the show. While you’re at it, look into Tubi or, if you have Roku, the Roku channel. PBS Kids can help to keep the kids entertained too.
13. Maintain Your Car
If you’re mechanically minded, you may already be doing this, but otherwise you might consider teaching yourself some basic car maintenance. For example, changing windshield wipers, air filters, indicator bulbs and even the oil itself are all relatively straightforward tasks. YouTube has a multitude of videos to help you learn these money saving tricks – and they’ll continue to save you money once the crisis is over.
14. You May Be Owed Some Money
It sounds too good to be true, but there might actually be money out there waiting for you to claim it. We’re not necessarily talking about long-lost uncle Bob’s millions, but refunds and credits that you either weren’t aware of or had forgotten to claim. Check out California’s State Controller website at https://www.sco.ca.gov/upd_msg.html to see if there’s any money with your name on it.
15. Dip Into Your 401K
This might not sound like good advice at first, but there are a couple of ways you can approach this. For starters, you may be able to borrow against your 401K without any penalty. In essence, you’re borrowing money from your future self, with the deductions coming directly out of your payroll. The good news is that although you pay interest, it’s at a lower rate than a regular personal loan and you’re paying the money back into your fund, rather than a faceless company’s pocket. If this isn’t an option, you can still withdraw some money to pay off high interest loans. The 10% early withdrawal penalty is waived, but you’ll still be required to pay income tax on whatever you withdraw, so make sure your other options have been exhausted first.
Hopefully these ideas will not only you save money, but also help to keep you safe and happy. We’re here for you during these difficult times and are ready to help.
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