VAN NUYS, Calif .– (COMMERCIAL THREAD) – We are all looking for ways to save money to help us get through this crisis. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some effective tips that might alleviate some of the financial anxiety you might be feeling. You may already be practicing some of these ideas. For example, you probably don’t drive as much as you used to, so in return, you don’t refuel and save money as a result. Going out to eat isn’t really an option either. That being said, here are a few other ideas that you probably haven’t considered yet.
1. Lower your auto insurance
One of the factors used to calculate the cost of your auto insurance is the number of kilometers driven. Since many of us are now working from home, now is a great time to try and lower your insurance payments by reporting lower mileage. Depending on your insurance company, this could result in significant savings.
2. Plan your meals
Creating a weekly menu and planning your meals in advance can help you budget more efficiently. Along with having a better idea of how much you’re going to spend, it can help you avoid buying food on impulse – or having to order because you have nothing to eat. Beyond that, try to limit your trips to the store by resisting the urge to “just go out and pick something up”. Plan your purchases over 1 to 2 weeks; buying wholesale will also save you a lot of money. Lastly – and perhaps most important – limiting your movement around the store keeps you out of harm’s way and helps enforce “social distancing.”
3. Plan your visits to the grocery store
Chances are, you’re home a lot more, and you’re using the internet a lot more, too. Instead of reading the dark news, why not search online for coupons to save money on the items you need? And while you’re shopping at the store, consider buying store brand items instead of the more expensive name brands. Many are made by the brands themselves, so you won’t compromise on quality while saving money. Also, be sure to check the top and bottom shelves, as they often contain lower-priced products. (Also, if you are lucky enough to find a refrigerator full of milk or juice, go for the back boxes. The front boxes are the ones that expire earlier, so the store will place them there. ‘before to sell them first.)
4. Keep fit for free
We hope your gym isn’t currently charging for your membership, but you still need to stay in shape. Get out and run instead, but make sure you’re safe doing this. You can also take advantage of digital resources like Gold’s Gym’s Gold’s Amp app. This fitness and workout app includes personalized workouts, coaching and music and is free until the end of May. Core Power Yoga is also free this month and Echelon is offering a 90% free trial of its Fitpass app.
5. Refinance your mortgage
Mortgage rates are at their lowest right now and saving a few hundred dollars a month could really help. Before signing, make sure that the drop in interest is enough to offset the closing costs.
6. Why buy when you can create?
Thanks to panic buying, some essential items like hand sanitizer are currently scarce. But did you know you can make your own at home? For example, Everclear and Aloe Vera can be mixed to make a hand sanitizer. Running out of cleaning solutions? White vinegar is a mild disinfectant and an excellent cleaning agent. (Hydrogen peroxide can also be used this way.) The old sponges that were used to clean dishes can now be used to clean the bathroom. Missing a laundry sock? Use it as a Swiffer stamp.
7. Take advantage of aid programs
The government has put in place numerous relief programs in response to the COVID-19 virus. If you owe money on a student loan, there are programs to help you defer payments. Do you have a small business? You may be able to take out a low interest loan or forgivable loan to keep your business afloat. Individuals can apply for unemployment benefits, with many states waiving the waiting period.
8. Talk to your landlord
If you think you are having trouble paying rent, don’t wait until the last minute to take action. Contact your landlord and tell them about the issues you are having due to the coronavirus and ask for help. Many states have already introduced preventative measures to ensure that landlords cannot evict tenants and allow an extension of the rent owed.
9. SNAP and pantry
There is probably food available if you are having financial difficulties during this crisis. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was created for those in need, offering “food cash” to help offset these expenses. Food pantries and / or banks also make food available free of charge.
10. Contact your credit card company
Many credit card companies have programs in place to help you defer payments, but like rent, don’t wait until you are late to act. Check with your credit card company to find out what options are available to you. You might be able to freeze interest and reduce payments to something you can afford.
11. Order food directly from the restaurant
Many of us use food delivery services when ordering meals, but instead try ordering directly from restaurants. You’ll save on delivery costs and more of the cost will go straight to the restaurant.
12. Do you really need these subscription services?
We understood. You’re stuck at home and your only source of entertainment is TV and Facebook chat videos. Going to a concert, the movies or the theater is no longer an option, and you might find yourself subscribing to additional channels to still have something to watch. But do you really need them all? Some shows and movies are on multiple streaming services, while you may be able to watch others for free, so consider hitting pause on some of those services. For example, Vudu has a large library of great movies and TV shows that you can watch for free. There is no subscription fee, but you will need to watch some commercials before and during the show. While you’re at it, look in Tubi or, if you have Roku, the Roku Channel. PBS Kids can also help keep children entertained.
13. Maintain your car
If you have a mechanical mind, you might already be doing this, but if not, you might consider teaching yourself basic car maintenance. For example, changing windshield wipers, air filters, turn signal bulbs, and even the oil itself are relatively straightforward tasks. YouTube has a plethora of videos to help you learn these money-saving tips – and they’ll continue to save you money after the crisis is over.
14. You may be owed money
It sounds too good to be true, but there might be some money waiting for you to claim it. We’re not necessarily talking about the long lost millions of Uncle Bob’s, but refunds and credits you weren’t aware of or forgot to claim. Visit the California State Comptroller website at https://www.sco.ca.gov/upd_msg.html to see if there is any money with your name on it.
15. Dive into your 401K
This may not seem like good advice at first, but there are a few ways to approach it. For starters, you may be able to borrow against your 401K without any penalty. Essentially, you are borrowing money from your future self, with the deductions coming directly from your payroll. The good news is that even though you are paying interest, it is at a lower rate than a regular personal loan and you are paying the money back into your fund, rather than into the pocket of an anonymous company. If that’s not an option, you can always withdraw money to pay off high interest loans. The 10% early withdrawal penalty is waived, but you’ll still be required to pay income tax on anything you withdraw, so make sure your other options have been exhausted first.
Hope these ideas will not only save you money but also help keep you safe and happy. We are here for you in these difficult times and are ready to help.
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