Staying Financially Secure During the Pandemic
by Amari Martin As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, the economic impact is having different effects on American families across the US. For many families, the virus has meant lost income or struggles to pay bills on time, especially among low-income families and communities. American workers and students of all ages have had to adjust to working or studying virtually from their homes. A retired financial advisor and family friend, Thomas Jackson, recently said to me, “I know switching from being in class to online was pretty weird... Now it’s college at home, working from your room and wondering what you’re going to eat.” Families may have had to dip into their savings to cover basic household expenses. Regardless of the economy, the rent still needs to be paid, as well as utilities, car payments, insurance, phone bills, and other necessities. According to MoneyUnder30.com, if you want to eliminate financial stress, it’s important to have an emergency fund. Here are a few ways to start saving during a devastating situation, like COVID-19: • Start a Budget A budget means tracking your income and expenses regularly. You can do this each month or budget by paycheck. According to Dupaco.com, whenever you look at your budget, it’s give and take. If you’re trying to save money or free up money for a bigger priority, you have to sacrifice somewhere else. Budget trackers are very useful especially during the midst of a pandemic because you’ll know exactly what to spend money on and what to save for, easily track the money spent so far, and see what money is left over for basic necessities or just to save. • Sticking to Store Necessities When grocery shopping, try to stick to the basic grocery items that are needed. Be mindful of what you’re putting in your cart. The goal is to get what you need and not what you want. Any extra items can wait so you won’t blow money on items that you don’t need. • Feeding Your Stomach Food will probably be one of the biggest expenses during a pandemic simply because we all need to eat. While you’re at the grocery store, get food to cook and store away. Don’t waste money on takeout when you can cook the same food at home. Food sharing apps, such as Uber Eats or GrubHub, can be a waste of money because you aren’t just paying for your food, you’re also paying for a delivery fee. Financing during a pandemic can be hard or easy depending on a person’s lifestyle, and the best thing about that is you can make small changes that will have a big impact on your budget. Spend money on what you need and not what you want. Stick to the items that are essential to your household and leave the unnecessary items for later. “Budgeting during the pandemic allowed me to see first hand what my necessities are and if I had enough money left over, depending on the cost, I’d get a few things that I wanted,” said Rodney McGee, a University Of Virginia alumni whose life was impacted by COVID-19. Overall, the best idea is to make a budget and track your spending. This skill will carry on even after a pandemic. In the long run, you’ll have a better idea of where your money is going and how you’re spending it. Make a budget for yourself at SimpleBudgets.org!