Whether your income has been impacted by the coronavirus or you’re concerned that it could be in the coming months, there’s a good chance that you’re looking for quick ways to cut costs from your budget.
Here are a few areas where you could trim right away to free up money.
With health clubs across the country being forced to close their doors, many have already decided to suspend monthly membership fees for the time being. But if you haven’t received that notice yet, contact your club and see if you can put these payments on hold. There are plenty of free workouts that you can access online through video or live streams.
No, we’re not suggesting that you cut your precious Netflix or Disney+ subscription that has been getting you through your at-home quarantining. But it is possible that your change in circumstances means you’re shelling out for services you may not need right now. Is there a clothing rental service that you can pause while you’re sitting at home in your athleisure wear? Or is there a dating site, beauty-box subscription or lunch subscription that you won't need while you’re social distancing?
Do an audit of your digital subscriptions — after all, 84 percent of us spend more on digital subscriptions than we think. Keep the ones you love and that are helping you get through your current situation; pare out the ones that aren't adding any value right now.
Your current commute likely consists of your walk from your bedroom to your home office (with a transfer at the kitchen). So if you autopay for things like transit passes, halt those payments for the time being. If you pay for a monthly parking spot, see if you can pause payments (although check your garage’s policy on whether you’d lose the spot).
If you’re used to driving every day, remember that you’re probably paying a lot less for gas, too, so that’s money you’re already freeing up for other essentials or to put in your emergency fund.
CREDIT CARD INTEREST RATES
If you’re currently carrying credit card debt, don’t hesitate to call up your credit card provider and ask them to lower your annual percentage rate. If you’re a longtime customer with a good track record of paying, they’ll likely try to do something for you to keep you as a customer. (It may not hurt to mention you’ve found competing credit card offers with lower APRs.)
If you can’t get a lower rate on your current card, consider transferring balances to a new card that has a 0 percent rate offer for a year or longer. If you go this route, just make sure that you’re making minimum payments and meeting any other requirements to keep the rate from increasing prematurely. You also want to be sure you can pay off the balance before the introductory offer period is over and the APR jumps up.
EXTRA PAYMENTS TOWARD DEBT
Hopefully, you’re still able to work toward any debt paydown goals you have right now. But if you’ve been aggressively paying off debt and you’re feeling the pinch, consider temporarily reducing the additional amount you’re putting toward your debt or just sticking to the minimum payments due for now. Also, if your credit card has a cash-back offer, take advantage of it to help cover some of your bill by having those cash-back rewards automatically applied to your balance.
Spending more time working from home means a lot more electricity usage, and the bigger your family, the bigger the hit to your energy bill. If you have a lot of devices that use vampire energy — those devices that still suck energy even when they are “off” — consider unplugging them when they’re not in use or plugging them into energy-saving advanced power strips. Common energy vampires include stereos, DVD players, video game consoles, laptops, coffee makers — basically anything that stays in a standby mode or can be turned on with a remote.
Also, if your local utility offers time-of-use rates, in which you pay a lower rate for using electricity during off-peak hours, consider opting in and doing certain high-energy chores during the cheaper time period. That can include things like doing laundry, running your dishwasher or even charging all your devices.