The lockdown has put a crimp in many of our budgets, even without spending on meals out, entertainment and more. Not only that, but the money we’re not spending on meals out is being used to snack, buy a Netflix membership, on heating and cooling and more.
It’s rough and we’re all in the same boat. Our finances are suffering as we work from home or we’ve lost jobs and aren’t able to work due to the lockdown. However, there may still be ways you can add to a savings account in spite of the lockdown.
Review Memberships & Subscriptions
Now’s a great time to go over all of your memberships and subscriptions. The reason? To see if there’s anything that can be cut out to save money. We talked about that Netflix membership. That’s probably one you need to keep. After all, it helps pass time and stay sane.
However, do you have a gym membership you’re not using? Or what about direct debits? Are these going for things you really need? If not, then cancel what you can and put the money into savings.
Save Money That Would Have Gone to Your Commute
How much was your usual commute to work each day before the lockdown? Was it £10 a day? Then why not consider adding this amount to your savings account?
You may find that your online banking service has a way you can create a savings account. If so, then consider creating a daily direct debit for the amount that you would normally spend on the daily commute. You’d be surprised at how quickly this adds up! After 30 days, you’d save £300! That’s nothing to sneeze at!
What Other Costs Could You Save?
Think of your pre-lockdown expenses. Did you visit the pub on a regular basis? Eat out quite a bit? Review everything in your budget and see what could be cut, with the money put into savings.
Whatever amount you’re not spending, then be sure to actually put this amount into a dedicated savings account. Otherwise, if the money’s just left in your normal bank account, it’s easy to spend it. Then your savings is lost. However, if the money goes directly into savings, you’ll see the amount growing over time. That brings a lot of satisfaction and provides you with the incentive to keep saving.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help
If you need help, then don’t hesitate to ask for it. The pandemic caught us all unawares. Losing a job, suffering a pay cut, or just struggling to stay afloat are hard. This is no time to go without what you and your family need. There is help available.
You may be eligible for the Universal Credit, or maybe you could take a mortgage holiday if you own your home. It may be possible to request a rent reduction from the landlord if you’re renting. And if you have overdraft fees, contact the bank and see if they’ll drop these. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help when you need it. Many of us are in the same situation right now.
Other options to seek help may include talking to your boss, your bank, to HMRC about what’s happening to your finances due to the lockdown. You might even consider calling the Money Advice Service to help find the help you may be eligible for. Their hours are from Monday to Friday, and they’re open from 8am to 6pm each day. And their phone number is 0800 138 7777.
Create a New Budget
Now’s the best time to create a new budget. The reason? It will keep you from overspending at your previous lockdown levels. With any income drop, every pence counts.
Sit down and really do the work to create a new budget. Be sure to include realistic spending goals for groceries and in other areas. With groceries, you may need to spend more right now due to you and your family all being at home.
Next, take a look at your utility bills. How much are you spending on heating, electricity and water? Try to create a realistic budget that takes into consider the current weather (winter/summer) and any fluctuations in temperature. Then consider if switching energy suppliers could save you money.
It’s easy to do—just visit an Ofgem accredited energy price comparison site. The reason is that you’ll be assured the prices are fair and not fixed. Just type your information into the site’s form and then wait for the results. You may find that switching energy suppliers could save you some considerable money. It doesn’t hurt to check, at least.
The goal with creating a new budget is to set more realistic spending goals, and trying to save money where possible, to put into savings.
Do You Have Refunds Coming?
Did you book a holiday before the lockdown? Has it been postponed or even cancelled? If so, then contact the company who arranged the holiday and ask what options they can give you. Ask if it’s possible to get a refund, or even a partial refund if the trip was cancelled.
Some travel organizations may just offer some vouchers or ask if you’d like to reschedule the holiday for a later date. Even so, it’s doesn’t hurt to ask if you could receive a refund.
Working from Home Allowances
If you’re working from home, you may be able to claim tax relief. This is about £6 a week. While that may not seem much, in a month, you’d receive £180, which could either be added to your new budget, or added to a savings account. That amount could help you buy quite a few groceries, too!
Plan Out Your Grocery Shopping
A great way to shop and make sure you only buy necessities is to create a grocery list. Yes, it’s not much fun, but it can help you save money and ensure you have the necessities on the table. To prepare a grocery list, it’s also helpful to plan out your meals for the next week. Then you’ll know exactly what to buy and avoid impulse spending.
Look for lower priced versions of the you like. For instance, store brands are usually much cheaper, but many these days have the same quality as name brand products. You can save a lot, and be able to buy additional food.
Saving money during the lockdown can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Just get organized and see what can be cut from your budget, ask for help if you need it, and save as much as possible during this time. Eventually things will get better, but these tips can at least make things a little easier while the lockdown continues.