Ways to save money during lockdown
Perhaps, the most difficult text message to process is a bank alert informing you of money that’s leaving your account. It’s never a pretty scene as it leads you closer to your worst nightmare; running out of money.
No one wants that, ever. Most importantly, no one wants that during a crisis such as a coronavirus pandemic, which has brought on a massive economic downturn. This has not only affected South Africa but the entire world, for businesses and individuals alike.
Job cuts, a sudden plunge in income and such, truly, if “emergency” had a face, it definitely would be coronavirus. And, if we’re learning anything from it, it’s how important the emergency funds and savings plans our parents and their peers can’t stop making noise about really are. When we hear the word “savings”, we immediately jump onto big numbers, which scares us to a point where we stop ourselves from considering saving. The reality about saving is that it can start from as little as 100 bucks. Small money ultimately becomes big money, which makes savings a doable exercise. More often than not, the challenge of saving money comes from not knowing how and where to start.
Granted, it’s hard to imagine that you can be able to save money when you don’t make enough money to live on, to begin with. Coupled with student loans that seem to pile up the more we pay them, adulting is tough. But it’s worth remembering that you are part of a generation that continuously makes lemonade out of lemons. So, it’s time to put your lemonade-making cap on and start learning of the many ways to be frugal with your money during lockdown.
Research is a vital factor in the preparation process. You can’t prepare without knowing what you’re preparing for. Start taking a thorough look at your expenses from the past two to three months. Mark your expenses from high, medium to low. To make it easy for yourself, you can draw up columns, putting each expense item in the relevant column.
Doing this may sound like a lot of admin and who has the time for that anyway? Simple answer: someone who is looking to make a financial change that will help them in the long run. It’s up to you to decide that you become that someone. Plus, doing this will make the next step a lot easier.
Budgeting is like a roadmap, it provides you with directions and guides to your destination, which in this case is saving money. Drawing up a budget has many benefits to it; it gives you control over your money, keeps you on top of your spending, and tracks where your money is going. Through a budget, you’re able to stay focused on your goals.
Keep in mind though, a lockdown budget is completely different from a regular budget, in that you’re focused on paying off important debts and spending only on essentials. There’s a behavioural change that comes with creating a budget during lockdown with a goal of saving. You’re going back to basics and sacrificing luxuries. What this means is, the money you used to spend on take-aways and unplanned coffee-runs now needs to go into your savings plan. Do that and you’re already winning the savings game.
The pandemic has disrupted our daily routines. So, the question you need to ask yourself is how much of your currently active subscriptions are you using? Take a gym membership, for example, you’re not going to the gym, so would it not make financial sense to temporarily cancel your membership? Rather pay yourself in a form of saving, then pull up a yoga mat and get planking in your lounge. Point is, you have an opportunity to re-look your subscription habits and keep only the ones that are of use to you in the present, like Netflix because saving money doesn’t mean kill your entertainment. It simply means be mindful of your spending.
With restricted movements, shopping online has become a saving grace for many South Africans. It’s a convenient way of getting the products or services you need without leaving the comfort and safety of your home.
We also can’t escape the fact that we’re impulsive beings, which is why when you visit a physical store you end up leaving with an item or two that you hadn’t intended to buy. Shopping online, even for groceries streamlines the shopping process thereby sharply focusing on your shopping list. You’re more likely to end up getting only what you need due to the lack of touch and feel the experience, which can rather encourage you to buy an item you don’t need. So, the less you spend, the more you can save.
Switch your lights off, literally. Just like you wouldn’t leave your tap on the whole day, when you’re not getting water from it, you shouldn’t leave lights on. It puts you in a tough position where you’re accumulating on an electricity bill unnecessarily. The best trick to follow is to try to use as much natural light as you possibly can during the day.
Pay with points
The retail industries have provided us with a gift that we didn’t even know we needed. The points system, it’s a genius idea that helps users or shoppers gain a reward when they buy or use a certain service. Clear examples of this include PicknPay smartshopper card, FNB’s eBucks, Clicks’ club membership cards. While these points systems work differently, the outcome is the same, you gain points as you swipe to buy. The more you accumulate on these points the more you’re able to use them on a rainy day when you’re strapped for cash.
There are different types of relief funds made available for people in need during this pandemic and if you do qualify, send out your application for the relief fund. All information related to COVID19 relief funds is available online, which means you won’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to get access.
Open up a savings plan and emergency fund
Lastly, open up a savings plan and emergency fund. It wouldn’t make sense to make all these thoughtful and great financial strides without actually having a savings plan and emergency fund active. Otherwise, where would you be channeling your new savings? Definitely, not a jar.
The bottom line is everyone wants to save, and we all can if we know. So, despite the difficult circumstances, we find ourselves in, there’s always a way to save money and the above tips are exactly what you need to kick-start your savings journey. The trick is to experiment around with how much less you can use and have fun with it rather than make a chore out of it.