Money. For the vast majority of us, it’s always there and constantly a worry, especially in these extremely uncertain economic times. The effects of Covid-19 haven’t only impacted public health, but have had a severe impact on the pockets of millions. National lockdown measures that have been imposed all over the world mean that almost every industry or sector has felt the financial pinch as retail establishments, bars and restaurants, and anywhere that the public can gather has had to close their doors.
The effect means that there are many struggling to make ends meet since they have had no steady income for almost 12 months and while some governments have lent a small helping hand, for many it hasn’t been enough. Fortunately, 2021 is looking to be a better year as the world slowly recovers thanks to vaccines and a transitioned state of reopening has begun.
But if the pandemic has taught us something, apart from the obvious medical effects, it’s that we can never be sure about our finances and we need to save as much as we can so this never hits as hard again.
While saving is a skill, it can be learned and some great saving ideas are:
- The 30 Day Rule
- Negotiate or Cancel
- Side Hustles
- Shop Smarter
The 30-day rule aims to reduce impulse spending, something which most of us suffer from while canceling unused subscriptions can save you tons of money and side hustles are an excellent way to bring in some extra income that can be saved and actively thinking about what you are buying will help reduce outgoings.
The 30 Day Rule
Survey data suggests that over half of purchases are impulse buys that usually stem from taking advantage of deals, which retailers know you will use, and another study found that this increased by 18% during the 2020 pandemic. Spur-of-the-moment purchases can really add up and hit the wallet hard, even smaller ones such as a donut, a chocolate bar, or meal deals that sell more than you need to eat for your lunch.
With the aim of reducing impulse purchases, the 30-day rule is a tried and tested method of helping lower expenditure and temporarily increase savings. Essentially, the rule suggests that you forego anything that is usually impulsive and instead store the money for 30 days so that it can be used for any emergencies that might crop up.
After the 30 days are up, probably on your next payday, then ask yourself if you still want that impulse buy and you probably won’t, therefore, saving you the money. If you are a completely reckless spender then saving like this won’t save you from bankruptcy but it can help most of us to put money away and potentially use it in a manner more befitting responsible spending.
Negotiate or Cancel
If you really think about it, it is likely that there is something that you are paying for on a monthly basis that you really don’t need, and for some of the things that you feel you need, you might be paying too much for. Some of the main culprits for this kind of expenditure are gym passes, TV subscriptions, and magazines which can put a drain on financial security.
Cable TV can be a large expense when you consider the extra channels that you can get and for the most part, you probably don’t watch them. Because cable has become so expensive, people have begun to “cut the cord” and switch to streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime, but even now these are beginning to require additional extra channels for the best content.
Ask yourself how much you really watch a particular show or channel and then see if you can go without it for a week. If you do this then you can probably cancel it and won’t miss it. Other things that you want to keep such as utilities can be negotiated by telling your provider what cheaper options are available to you, and if they won’t change then you can switch your energy provider easily with comparison sites.
If you have any spare time on your hands then online jobs, known as side hustles can be an excellent source of extra income. It is true that most online jobs don’t pay as well as a traditional one, but the idea is to make a little extra when you can that can be put away as savings or into an emergency fund, and even low paying jobs can quickly add up to a substantial sum.
Blogging is one of the most prolific online jobs and a full-time income can be earned for those willing to put in the time but it does require some knowledge of how the web works, SEO, and of course some skill in writing, but these are all things that the basics of can be learned easily. Surveys are another popular form of side income and although they pay extremely low, from $0.20 to $2 per survey, they have the potential to provide a little bit extra when times are tough.
However, for the business savvy among you, Amazon and eBay are the best ways to earn a substantial income. This can be done by either selling a creation such as homemade jewelry, ebooks, or even services such as artwork commissions, for example.
Similar to reducing impulse purchases, thinking about what you buy can be of enormous benefit when shopping for anything. The next time you are at the supermarket for example, before you go to the register, take a look in your cart; it is guaranteed that there will be items in there that you either don’t need or can be replaced with a cheaper alternative.
One of the main mistakes people make is buying branded products that they see advertised, especially when they are part of “2 for 1” deals or specials. An industry secret is that many of a supermarket’s “own brand” items are actually manufactured by the big brand labels you are paying more for; they are essentially the same product.
Another tip is to buy only what you will actually use since you might either waste a lot of food or buy a product that never gets used up and eventually expires. Making a meal plan for each day and then buying products based around that meal plan is an excellent way to save money since you will only buy what you need and you will know exactly what to do with it, rather than throwing items in the cart willy nilly, which will be a massive increase to your bill.