We love saving money, and we have already written about it before but now more than ever you might be looking for ways to minimize your expenses during the COVID19 world crisis and the shadow of a recession looming.
We all know that the best way to save money can be as simple as stop spending money on unnecessary things. But the reality is that we do not want to sacrifice necessarily our quality of life or cut back to a point where we get depressed or unhappy about our daily life. Fortunately, there are ways to save a lot and spend smartly both when it comes to necessary items, such as food for example, and for not strictly necessary items that however make our lives brighter.
We have put together a definitive guide encompassing all the major categories of expenses and we have looked for effective and actionable strategies for each that, when applied diligently, can save you big. Two things you won’t find in this guide are, penny-saving strategies (we want your actions and time invested to have a big impact on your expenses) and nonsensical big cuts to your expenses (or things that would need drastic lifestyle changes).
Statistics show that the majority of household expenditure goes into housing, be it mortgage or rent, food, transportation, health, entertainment, and apparel, in this order. Let’s explore a few ideas to drastically reduce these costs.
How to save money on Housing
Housing is the number one cost to bare and realistically the most difficult to cut into.
If you are a student, now would be a perfect time to consider moving back with your parents, if at all possible, and save yourself a huge chunk of your monthly income. Alternatively, sub-letting could be an option for you. If there’s a spare room in your apartment you might invite a friend to share that space for the time being, therefore, sharing the rental costs.
If instead, you are on a mortgage, you should definitely check what your local government and banks are doing to help people during the Coronavirus pandemic. Worst case scenario, you should be able to arrange to defer payment for a few months. If this does not apply to you either, always consider checking with your bank to renegotiate payment intervals or minimum repayment amount.
During this pandemic, in fact, we have seen the lowest interest rates for mortgages in years, so there’s an opportunity there to save a great deal just by contacting your bank and have the new rates applied to your mortgage.
Shrink your utility bills
Another, maybe easier way, to reduce household costs is to aggressively reduce expenses for utility bills, let’s look at electricity first.
- Start by reviewing your current contract. This first idea is just pure gold and surprisingly easy to implement.
Suppliers upgrade constantly their standard tariffs and introduce new, more favorable tariffs for new customers. Don’t expect to be automatically upgraded, instead ask them if you can benefit from any new offer. I personally review my electricity bill tariffs every 3 to 6 months and I have been to consistently reduce my expenses over time.
- Switch to a different supplier if your is not up to scratch. Shop around, do a round of research and find the supplier with the best prices or with the best overall tariffs for your particular situation. Don’t be afraid to switch, you have a great negotiating leveraging during these times.
- Shut off secondary appliances. Learn to manage your resources better and save yourself up to 150$ a year, for example, just by turning off your second fridge. As a general rule shut off any appliance you are not currently making full use of.
- A lot of electricity is used for heating water so, while water is usually cheap, implementing strategies to reduce water consumption will ultimately affect your energy bill. Install water-efficient fittings on showers and taps, reduce showering times and use hot water only when necessary. Wash clothes in cold water; run the dishwasher only when it’s full.
- Leaving items on standby is convenient but surprisingly wasteful. Turning off the PlayStation completely can save you up to 150$ a year! So make a point of switching tech fully off when they are not in use. You can even use a smart switch to automatically switch everything in the house regularly.
- Control heating and cooling – climate control features as one of the biggest expenses, make sure to close those windows when using aircon and be mindful of the most energy-efficient temperature to use, 18 to 20°C in summer and 25 to 27°C in winter. Open windows leak heat out in winter and in during summer. Keep em closed in winter and use curtains or shades in summer to reflect heat off.
Save money on your internet bills
Now we are going to review ways to save money on your internet bill. Our main objective is to reduce costs without dramatically changing the quality of life.
- Reduce your mobile data plan to 500MB/1GB – Reducing your mobile plan to a reasonable allowance can save you hundreds of dollars and the truth is you do not really need Gigabytes to make full use of the internet on the go. If you stick to navigation, messaging and news browsing, 500MB/1Gb is more than enough for a full month!
- Switch to a different plan for home internet – Look at your download patterns and see where most of your data is used. If you see you are consistently using less than your data plan cap or a definite amount, scale back to the amount of data you really and stop paying for allowance you do not really need.
- Switch to a cheaper provider or renegotiate with your current one – as per the electricity advice, don’t be enslaved by habits or the inconvenience of searching for a new, more economical ISP provider. Shop around and once you found a better offer than your current one, go back to your provider and try to negotiate better tariffs and if it doesn’t work switch to the new one.
- Stop renting a modem from your provider and buy yourself one – Many providers will happily rent you a modem and while this might seem the cheaper option on the short time-frame the small extra cost quickly adds up over time, you forget about it and keep absentmindedly lining the pockets of your ISP for no real reason. Buy yourself a modem or call your provider and tell them you are going to leave if they do not waive the modem rental fee.
- Bundle Internet with TV – Many companies will make you pay less monthly if you bundle internet and tv with the hope of hooking you up with their services offers and subsequently having you purchase their additional bundles. Enjoy the monthly saving while being mindful not to fall prey to their marketing strategies.
How to save money on groceries and food in general
We have dedicated a full article to the subject of saving money on food, there, you’ll find 20 neat ideas to lighten substantially your grocery bill. Here, instead, we’ll be looking at further ways to save once your groceries hit the benchtop.
- Prepare your lunches – make your lunches if you eat out for work. This simple tip can potentially save you up to 100$ a week, easily. If you are afraid meal prep can waste away your precious time, fret not, you can save that too by frontloading your prep at the beginning of the week.
- Prepare all your meals from scratch – this is more involved, admittedly, but super powerful. Once you are in full control of what you prepare the opportunities for saving are further amplified. You can purchase in bulk, you can shop only items on sale, the possibilities for saving are endless.
- Learn proper long term storage practices – Up to 30% of groceries are routinely thrown in the garbage (and with it a huge chunk of your grocery budget) and that is because people don’t know how to store food properly. Learn the correct way of freezing and storing food and never throw it away again. There are two ways to do this, firstly learn about food storage, then you can invest in tools (like simple airtight containers) that are proven to prolong the shelflife of your food items.
- Learn to make bread – I have seen people buying so much bread, particularly during this Coronavirus emergency. However, a good loaf (and you should only eat good bread!) can set you back 4 – 6 dollars or more a week, adding up to a sizeable chunk of money very quickly. Point is, making bread at home is really easy, bread refrigerates perfectly and is super cheap to make. This simple tip saves me hundreds over the course of a year.
6 effective ways to save money on clothing
When it comes to saving money on clothing there are a few key ideas to explore: buy fewer clothes, buy quality clothes, take good care of them and learn to repair them when necessary. The number one reason we tend to buy more clothes than we actually need is that they do not fit well. So for these ideas to stick, you need to learn how to check for fit.
So, if you understand that the price tag is not going to make anything magically look good on you might start thinking differently about spending money on clothes.
Let’s have a look in more detail to same ideas that will have the biggest impact on your clothing budget.
- Fit is more important than price tag – No one wants to just fill up his or her wardrobe just for the sake of it. We are all looking for clothes that are going to make us look good or cool and that’s why sometimes we overbuy or think that buying an expensive piece of clothing is going to give us that look. The reality is that fit is way more important and even an inexpensive piece of clothing fitting just right is going to make us look and feel great.
- Find the brands that fit you well and stick with them – following directly from the previous advice, this saves so much time and frustration. Invest initially a good chunk of time finding the brands that fit you the best and once you have found them stick with them. Enroll in their loyalty programs, subscribe to their newsletter, be notified of their ongoing offers and when they are on buy in bulk multiple items.
- Buy fewer quality clothes – The main advantage of foregoing cheap clothes when shopping is the fact that good quality clothing is made with more durable materials and put together in a way that it is easier to repair. This way you can have your cake and eat it too, in fact, you’ll have quality items that look goon on you and will last you a long time (therefore making you save).
- Learn to take good care of your clothes – A little bit like the advice on storing food properly, learning to store, wash and maintain clothing items correctly goes a long way toward saving big money in this category. By learning correct practices you will simultaneously save a lot, not having to purchase new clothes frequently, and enjoy your favorite items for much, much longer.
- Buy factory seconds at big outlet stores – this is an advice that has been serving me well for years. You can find absolute gems here but do not assume that all the clothing items sold through these outlets have the same quality. Shop carefully, look for quality items and you will be able to snag excellent pieces of clothing from name brands at a fraction of their original cost.
How to save money and stay entertained during the recession
During this pandemic, for many of us, staying at home may be the only option so finding ways to stay entertained in an enclosed space becomes suddenly very important.
The main ideas here are to make the most of what’s available for free through the internet and oh boy, there is a lot of stuff to do for the price of absolutely nothing!
Think about it, the internet can be whatever you want when it comes to entertainment so it makes perfect sense to center your entertainment around it while at the same time reducing aggressively all the paid alternatives of home entertainment such as cable tv, physical purchases of movies/games, board games, and books.
Let’s explore some major entertainment sources and how you can annhilate costs while still enjoying yourself.
- Videogaming – this seems an obvious entertainment choice for many however new games can be very expensive. There are, however, hundreds of places online where you can find free games to play and even ways to cut substantially into your spending even if you want to keep accessing triple-A games.
If you are a PC owner you are spoiled for options. To start with, every major publisher such as Ubisoft or Epic Games is giving away free games during this period to help people cope and they will probably keep doing it for a while. So tune in with each of them, follow their offers and snag some free amazing games while they are available.
Free to play games are also a very solid option o stay entertained indefinitely. We are talking of games such as Fortnite, Warframe, Dota 2, Destiny 2, Path of Exile and many, many more. They have no money barrier to get into and, mostly, require no money to progress offering only in-app purchases for convenience or esthetic items.
Finally, if you are a casual player, you can get plenty of quality games for free browsing platforms such as Kongregate.com or Bigfishgames.com. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you are a console gamer, the best option for you is probably to explore the subscription model. Playstation One and Xbox Pass will allow you to pay a fixed price to access a library of excellent games that are yours to play with as long as you are subscribed. Even if you don’t own a console you can access these services on PC (Xbox Pass for PC is still in beta) and Playstation One has more than 800 titles for example and the monthly subscription incredible value.
- Board gaming – If you are into board games or thought of trying some, now is a perfect time. Board games can be expensive though and difficult to find casually on the second-hand market but there are great solutions for you.
Head over to BoardGameGeeks.com to find the best community online built around the love of board games. Besides info and reviews, you’ll find an open marketplace where you can purchase pre-loved board games at a fraction of the retail price!
And that’s not al! You can head over to BoardGameArena where you can play many major board games for free, online!
- Get back into reading – relaxing while reading a nice book it’s the quintessential definition of quality time spent at home however accessing a local library may be impossible during this pandemic. Luckily, if you own a tablet, an e-reader or just a mobile phone, you can access a huge chunk of the human literature for free, from the comfort of your home.
Several open libraries online collect and catalog thousands upon thousands of amazing books completely free to read and just one click away. Head over to gutenberg.org and openlibrary.org to discover and access hundreds of thousands of free to read books on any subject.
- Learn new things – Some people just can not spend time twiddling their thumbs, gaming or binge-watching Netflix shows and instead need to keep their brains occupied differently.
Now maybe the best time to brush up on your existing skills or acquiring a new skill set for a hobby or for future work prospect after the recession comes to an end.
YouTube is the first, free stop you should try for your next learning project but if you want something more professional you can try e-learning platforms such as Udemy and Skillshare that are designed to provide quality content to its user base. The cost to access is marginal if compared to the value they provide and they have very generous trial programs and even give away free viewing time if you meet certain requirements.
- Ditch cable services – Nowadays cable is becoming less and less relevant. In fact, the amount of entertainment to be found via internet streaming is already too much for a single human life and most of it is free! Do yourself a favor and consider giving up the expensive cable options that you might have on just to watch that one show and embrace other forms of entertainment via the internet. Head to YouTube Movies, BBCAmerica or TubiTV, just to name a few, to watch old and new movies and series for free and legally.
How to save money on transportation
Transportation is a huge item on the list of expenses because between car upkeep and petrol it gets very expensive very fast. This is going to go dramatically down as many people are getting organized to work from home still, thinking proactively, can save you a lot down the line.
If you are among those people who have had to self isolate and working from home, you are obviously going to be saving already quite a lot by virtue of just not driving the car or using the public system. This however does not mean you shouldn’t be thinking proactively on how to further reduce your expenses. This might be the perfec time, in fact, to review your transportantion options.
If you commute regularly to work, you could, realistically:
- Invest in an electric bike – everyone loves biking, except for the sweating part and the fatigue part, right? Kidding aside, an electric bike will take you to work safely and will beat traffic and petrol cost hands down paying itself back in a few months.
- Invest in a scooter – If you have to travel further than an e-bike can take you, consider buying a scooter. They are cheap to purchase (second hand for example) and cheaper to maintain than a car and petrol cost almost nothing.
- Invest in a last-mile transportation device – sometimes the last kilometer/mile to work is the most expensive because you have to hop on a different train or bus to reach a destination which increases the trip length and cost. Instead, get a push scooter or a foldable bike to cruise free for the last kilometer or two.
If you absolutely have to travel by car here a few things you can do to improve your mileage and hence reduce your overall costs.
- Get your car tuned up – saves fuel
- Keep it light – the lighter the less fuel it uses
- Drive slow and calmly – saves fuel
- Avoid the last k by using a foldable bike
- Download a gas-saving app such as GasBuddy which will tell you in real-time the least expensive gas station
- Plan your parking before leaving – saves fuel and frustration
Wrapping up: How to save money during a recession
That’s it my friends, we ar at the end of this massive guide on how to save money during a recession. We have listed ideas and strategies that are proven to work and that can save you thousands per year if followed diligently. We ask you to share this info if you find it valuable and also to share your ideas in the comment section below.