Frugal Living During the CoronaBear
This CoronaBear in INTENSE.
There are so many moving pieces and people’s emotions are flying everywhere.
Since there are so many negatives to get bogged down in here, for the next few posts, I’m going to try to focus on the positives.
First positive, there has never been a better time to be frugal!
Frugal folks have been prepping for a worst case scenario for a while- having low monthly expenses and little debt makes this whole thing a lot less dangerous for a family’s finances.
Sure, leverage can bring great wealth in times of prosperity. But, the use of levers assumes that the base or the anchor of that lever is stable. If anything happens to destabilize the base, the whole system comes crumbling down. We’re seeing that now.
Doctors have never felt their jobs become unstable. For the first time in a long time, a lot of doctors’ in highly specialized fields are sitting on the sidelines and dipping into their emergency funds. Even the doctors on the front lines are not spared from the economic uncertainty. A lot of ER and internal medicine docs are seeing their pays cut as well, even as their exposure increases. So, it’s a good time to get frugal.
Here are a few things you can do to save money in these times.
Start Tracking Your Expenses
This is a GREAT time to start a budget if you haven’t started one. Expenses are simplified and there is a lot less discretionary spending. Generally, people have time on their hands and are stressed out about money. THIS is the time to start a budget. I am putting together a mini-course on how to make a budget you’ll stick to right now. Send me a message under the “Contact Me” section if you’re interested in becoming a beta tester!
Build Up The Emergency Fund
Most people recommend a three to six month emergency fund. Some people beef up the emergency fund to more like 1-2 years, to be on the extra safe side. By monthly expenses, I mean the total money it takes to keep you living monthly- the essential expenses like housing, food, and transportation. When you track your spending, this number is easy to come up with (see above).
Where do you keep your emergency fund? It needs to be somewhere accessible like a high yield savings account. A high yield savings account is generally at an online bank. They offer you >1% return for your money. The lag time of getting your money out is 1-2 days. It’s better than the <0.1% return people get at traditional savings account.
Get that Kitchen Revved Up
What a great time to experiment with recipes and to learn how to cook!
A lot of people have been baking bread recently- I know this because everywhere is out of yeast! I recently discovered that my local Italian bakery will sell blocks of fresh yeast- it’s the BEST and it was only $3! See if your local baker will sell you some, too. Here is my favorite Italian bread recipe right now. No bread machine needed!
Take a Hard look at your Fixed Monthly Expenses
If you have some extra time right now and are tracking your expenses, this is a great time to take a look at all the fixed monthly expenses that are draining your account.
Is there any way you can minimize them? Do you really need that monthly membership? Are you using it? If not, cut it out now.
This little bit of effort now will continue to save you money in the future. Think about cutting your cell phone bill in half by switching to an alternative carrier. Call you health insurance and see if they’ll reimburse your gym membership. See if cutting the cord might be an option for you. Think about getting an HD antenna.
A lot of times we end up spending too much because we don’t have time to look for the deals. Well, now that most people have more time, this is the time to look for deals. Are there credit card benefits you could be taking more advantage of? If you’re working on the frontlines, makes sure to check out the freebies people are offering to healthcare workers.
Bust Out the Ol' Sewing Machine
The data on cloth masks are mixed, but apparently the CDC is recommending everyone wear one now (as of 4/6/2020). So, I’ve started sewing a bunch of masks. Peronally, I plan to wear cloth masks around my family to protect them from me when I am working with COVID patients. Supplies are hard to find though. Here is my favorite pattern. For material, JoAnns was giving it out but there seems to be some staff pushback recently. I cut up an old cotton bedsheet recently for material- that works just fine. Look around for wire for the nose part- pipecleaners or paper clips will do (just turn the ends in).
Finally, take care of you. That will save you a ton of money in the end. Get outside for a walk or a run in a place where you can keep a safe distance from people (as long as your local COVID recommendations allow) or get your blood moving indoors with an in home workout. It’s good for your mental and physical well being. Try to set a limit to your social media time- it’s important to stay up to date but it is really easy to get sucked in and lose your mind. Deep breaths and one step at a time.
Stay Frugal, y’all!
Standard Discliamer: Not meant as individualized financial or medical advice.