In January this year, I was very certain my career was going to climb a few steps higher. I had perfected my LinkedIn profile and was interacting with enough people on social media to reap the benefits of connecting with professionals in my field.
February proved to me that I was not wrong. I received a call at the end of the month of an old employer whom I had worked with on a freelance basis. This person, whom I should mention here I have always been on very good work terms with, offered me a full-time position as a digital marketing manager at his office.
Needless to say, I was pumped. The first few weeks of March went by in a blur as I shuffled between different documents and tried to wrap my head around what the company needed. My boss told me I was doing a great job which, of course, boosted my spirits.
But then the weekend right before April 1, I was informed that a lot of the company’s employees, including me, were being given unpaid holidays. I don’t hold anything against my then superior who sent me this message. If anything, I think deep down I was expecting this with many companies moving remote and even more so weaning off employees.
Nevertheless, I was bummed. This meant that a sizable chunk of my salary was now not going to reach me for the coming months. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this scenario. News in the last week of April revealed that 26 million people had lost their jobs in the span of a month.
What this meant for my finances
I spent April applying to different jobs in hopes that I would be able to fetch a project or two. I started trying to sell other skills that I had such as graphic designing. But if I’m being honest, I was not hopeful. And I shouldn’t even have been. In times like these, companies are trying more and more to save as they too are facing losses.
With us, all being shut in our homes, and people being smarter about how and where they’re spending their money, the economy is taking a hit. But as you must already be knowing, making peace with such a change does not come easy.
Not only was I fearful for the future and worried about my current income, but I was also locked down and isolated at home. Meeting up with friends to feel better about my situation was not an option. In fact, with my life’s financial department disrupted, I didn’t even want to spend an extra penny on anything.
Top that up with various YouTubers telling their audience that this was the time they needed to save money rather than spend it without a care. And these YouTubers and experts are not wrong. We don’t know for how long this situation is going to last and how many of us will be able to return back to our jobs once this is all over.
It will be a while before the economy will be able to stand erect again. Financial counselor, Lacey Langford says, “We need to be clear on what is a must and what is a want.” And this is the exact thing that I started following as soon as I lost the job that I was so excited to learn more at.
My situation and the condition of the economy around me prompted me to quickly understand that I needed to cut down my expenses and focus more on saving. I was doing some freelance work still, but I was not making as much as I was used to. Put simply, all this meant that I had to reevaluate the way I dealt with my money.
How I started with cutting my expenses off
For starters, I made a list of all the things that I spent on in a month. Then with a heavy heart, I made my mind that I needed to cut down what was now unimportant. And truth be told, while the task seemed to be very difficult in the beginning, it was so worth it.
I started to prioritize my expenditure. Here’s a look at some of the items that I stopped spending on:
- Gym membership
I’m someone who regularly visits the gym because I like to stay in shape. I know a lot of people are of the view that you can exercise at home and gym memberships are useless. However, going to the gym just works better for me than working out at home. It keeps me motivated. But now that the city was under lockdown, it only made sense for me to cancel my gym membership.
Don’t worry though, while I’ve always found it very difficult to work out at home, I learned during this time that it was not too bad at all! Exercising has helped me in this time to stay sane and fit as well.
Another fact about me: I am a true lover of eating out. When the lockdown began I thought that the stress would lead me to order more food from restaurants because now I couldn’t go out to eat myself. But now that my wallet was not very heavy, I started to control my urge to eat from outside.
What I did instead, was that I learned how to cook. It’s not that tough, in case you’re wondering. And while my cooked food can never be as good as a burger from McDonald’s, it sure is way healthier and inexpensive.
Like many other people, I too started spending a lot of time on Netflix. During this time, I realized that my television was truly of no use to me because I always had my head stuffed in my laptop anyway. I also realized that it was best for me to cancel my cable subscription.
While I had initially planned that I would be purchasing a Disney+ subscription during the summer, this is one plan that I have decided I will not follow through with. Not this year at least.
With me being locked inside my house, a lot of my expenses went down magically. Just kidding, as I have been spending my time at home, I am realizing that this is really good for my finances. I’m not spending on the commute, hanging out with friends, giving treats, shopping, or anything else.
Yes, I am a big fan of online shopping and buying a lot of snacks from the nearby grocery store. And while I am still spending on snacks, I am trying to spend the least I can on clothing and other shopping items.
So far, I have only ordered some nightwear online and fortunately, I was able to get a discount on that through ClothingRIC, a website that promotes fashion coupons.
After all, since I’m sitting at home there is no one I have to show any dresses to. We’ve all become quite accustomed to doing video calls in our pajamas.
Some tips on how you can save money during this time
I’ve learned a lot of money-saving tips from my mother during this time as I hear her talking all the time about how this is a moment we need to reflect on the many unnecessary things that we are spending on. As a result, my family is doing its best to make a joint effort toward spending less money and saving more. Since we’re in it together, it’s also a lot easier to control my urges of spending more.
Here are some tips that come directly from me about how my family has been saving money in the past few weeks:
- Make a financial plan
Take a diary and list all the things that you think are necessary versus those things that you think are unnecessary and just your wants. Revisit this budget that you’re making for yourself for the quarantine period regularly and update it accordingly.
- Work toward your financial goals together
It’s a lot easier, as I mentioned above when you all take this step towards saving together. Now that my family is spending a lot more time together, we’re all sitting at the dining table, discussing our family values, and talking about how we can save money. My mother has been constantly reminding us we use coupon codes and promos to buy whatever we need.
She has been a fan of discounts since forever anyway. Now she’s instilling the habit of buying from the sale section and by using coupons in us. I am also being very particular about using any discount codes that I can get my hands on whenever I need to make a purchase. However, this does not mean that just because a coupon is available I need to use it even if the thing that it is for is not in my urgent needs.
- Keep some money in a saving bank every day
Of course, not all of us have a safe at home. What’s more, we cannot go to the bank every day to save small amounts of money. I recommend that you, like me, start saving $100 every week and put it in a separate wallet. Try not to open this wallet and take a peek at how much you have saved every few days. In fact, seal the wallet, keep it hidden, and vow that you will not look at it again until the end of the year or when you need the money desperately.
So, these were some tips and my personal journey of how I have been saving money during this time. The quarantine period has been tough on all of us psychologically as well as financially. Let’s all try and make it easier for ourselves by saving more and taking care of our mental health as best as we can.