More than a year ago the Caribbean region was struck by the global pandemic of COVID-19. Fast forward a year later and the now evolved disease continues to surge in waves of variants. Some islands have fared quite well and are gradually vaccinating their populace. Others have found themselves subject to more virulent variants, logistical headaches of vaccination and surges of cases far worse than they’d experienced in the prior months. Vaccinated or not, COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon and continues to dominate headlines each day. How is one going to manage their finances amidst a crisis defined by job losses, economic shrinkage and reduced income flows? Let’s look at some ways.
Pick Up A Pen and Paper
This may sound rudimentary and even simplistic but the mere act of picking up a pen and paper then jotting down a rough outline of your budget can work wonders. This creates a ‘mental space’ in your head that helps you remember and solidify the first step of your ‘plan’ to save money. It doesn’t need to be a scientific breakdown but rather a rough idea of your spending for the week or month. Look at your income and your expenses. Categorize the ‘needs’ from the ‘wants’. Things that are luxury goods or items should be highlighted. Do you really need a subscription to Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and PS Plus all at the same time? How much use do you get from all of these things each month? Consider only keeping the one which you use the most. Every little thing adds up. Do you need many snacks each time you go shopping? After 2 weeks of saving like this you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much you can save.
Pick Up Cooking As A Long Term Skill
Many are taking up cooking as a hobby during lockdown but consider doing so as a long term skill. Consider the aforementioned list. Do you need to buy food as much as you do? For one, processed ‘easy prep’ and convenient food is usually loaded with salt, sugar and oil. Cooking your own food is far healthier and both the US CDC and WHO notes that healthy diets greatly impact your immune system and by extension your chances to both catch and recover from COVID-19. Consequently, a piece from WeMoney illustrates a simple exercise anyone can engage in. Buy fresh ingredients and prepare some of your favourite meals that you purchase then tally up how much you would have spent in the same time buying those meals. Every little thing adds up and with a wealth of online resources, simple, quick and healthy meal prep can be a simple way of saving money long term.
Take Up Exercising
Exercise is one of the easiest stress relievers out of there and there’s no shortage of stress to be had in economically uncertain times. How can exercising at home save you money though? First and foremost exercising strengthens your immune system and overall health which is a boon during a pandemic. Indeed, various medical sources note that those who are obese and physically inactive have the highest chances of dying from COVID-19. Furthermore, a piece from Men’s Health notes that, according to studies from John Hopkins, people who exercise frequently tend to have a lot more disposable income on hand than those who don’t. Not only do they get sick less but overtime, the cost of managing various lifestyle diseases and avoidable complications add up and incur great expense. Such people have less doctor appointments, less prescriptions to worry about and need to visit the pharmacy less overall.
Save Before You Spend
Attempt to pick up the habit of saving then spending rather than spending then saving what’s left-back. Tally your income and disposable funds for each month and dedicate a portion to savings. These savings should be put aside unless absolutely necessary. This isn’t new or revolutionary. NBC reports that now, more than ever, many Americans are pinching pennies and saving money. This includes everything from opening a savings account to putting one dollar in a ‘piggy bank’ every day. There are also those taking to investing in ‘safe sources of returns’ however there is always a great risk when pursuing this avenue, especially when playing with stocks. Indeed, recent events have shown just how volatile the cryptocurrency market is for example; a favourite for younger millennial and Gen-Z investors. Be cautious, be rational and practice common sense saving methods.
Don’t Be A Panic Buyer
Panic buying is one way to effortlessly free oneself of valuable cash on hand. Many panic buyers spontaneously purchase things they can’t or won’t use. A lot of these items end up spoiling, expiring or degrading due to improper storage. In fact, the mere act of panic buying en masse creates spikes in the cost of goods being targeted. So not only will you lose cash short term but end up spending more long term. Now is the time to be a smart shopper. Look for deals and weigh your options. Be informed.
All in all we can see that saving during a pandemic is a double-edged sword. It’s both easy and hard but largely up to you, the individual. It can be a matter of common sense but is also heavily dependent on one’s personal situation and finances at hand. Not everyone will even have the option to save. However tough decisions will have to be made.