Have you been wondering how to manage your personal finances during this isolation?
With this virus spreading everywhere, we are effectively dealing with a state of emergency and we are asked to change our habits and stay at home in isolation.
But should our budget change too?
However, there are key things to consider and steps to take when you’re thinking about how to manage your personal finances during isolation.
Before I get into the details, there are two things I’d like to clarify.
The below is strictly my opinion based on my own knowledge of how it feels to be stuck at home for a while. I live in the UK but my family is in Italy and has been living in quarantine due to coronavirus for weeks now.
The UK government has asked the population to stay at home as much as possible, except for exercising, and work from home if allowed.
That is obviously if you have a standard office job.
If you are self-employed, you could still benefit from some of the recommendations below however, given your income might be lower than normal, so some of the points below might not be applicable to you.
How to manage your personal finances during this isolation
So are you ready to implement a few changes (and keep some things the same!) to manage your personal finances during this difficult time?
Keep calm and carry on
As the famous motivational poster says, Keep Calm and Carry On.
Whilst we are in no way closer to a war, we are in a state of emergency where we are asked to change our habits and do what’s best for the future of our family and friends, but also community and well, human race?
But we should not panic as this too shall pass.
Before I walk you through what you can change, let’s focus on what should stay the same if you want to effectively manage your finances during coronavirus.
Keep the same budget
It’s easy in times of uncertainties to review your budget and cut everything down to the bare bones. Whilst for some expenses it could be good (more on that below), this could easily lead to burn-out.
We are going through a difficult time, and we are asked to make tough decisions by staying isolated as much as we can, this is not the time to add extra level of stress to our lives.
If you receive a steady income, and you are able to work remotely, keeping your budget the same is the best idea to effectively manage your finances during this isolation.
Your fixed expenses will stay the same or will be slightly higher (you might see your water and gas bill go up a bit given you’ll be at home all day), but your variable expenses (commute, Starbucks coffee, clothes, going out) will definitely go down a lot so that will balance things up.
You might also notice you have money left over from your budget, which you can use to pay off a debt or set aside for that house project or that holiday you’ve been dreaming of.
Don’t touch your investments
I’m no investment expert but what I learnt is that in times like this, it’s best to leave our investments as they are and wait for the market to pick up again.
Remember in 2008 we thought the market would never recover from the recession, but it did, so there is no reason to believe it won’t recover now.
And if you find yourself worrying about this too much, how about a change of perspective as MatthewLee7 said on twitter?
Meal prep and freeze
Use the free time to experiment with new recipes and meal prep some freezer friendly recipes.
Trying new recipes is key if you’re stuck at home, because you’ll (temporarily) have to give up on your favourite brunch place and their poached eggs with avocado on toast. Why not learning how to make them?
Meal prepping might not seem a necessity now that you’re home, but if you’re cooking a bit more and freeze a second portion, the future you will thank you for it. Having delicious meals ready to eat will save you loads of time when everything will be back to normal.
Just don’t start buying in bulk and cooking like it’s the end of the world and you’ll have to live in a bunker forever. Because that’s not the case.
Think of others before you stockpile. If you buy more than you need, someone else will go without. Think about the elderly and those that cannot afford to buy in bulk. It is at times like this we need to think of everyone and not just ourselves.
Check out Money Savvy Aimee post for advice on how to reduce your supermarket spend
Review your bills
This is a great opportunity to tackle some admin activities, like reviewing your bills. Use one of your recent bills and fill in the form on a price comparison site like uswitch or comparethemarket. You could literally save hundreds by switching supplier.
This is not only for standard culprits like gas and electricity, but also for your mobile contract, internet, insurances. Literally anything.
You could also consider installing a water meter to reduce your water usage, and therefore save on your monthly bill. If you already have a water meter, it is still worth checking your water provider as they have useful tips for reducing your water consumption. Some providers even send you water savings gadgets!
If you have no clue when your bills are due for renewal or you don’t even have a clear picture of all your bills (we’ve all been there), check out my Editable Bills Tracker, it is available for free in the Freebies Library!
Find new ways to make money
What about using your skills to make extra money and start a side hustle?
You could start selling your crafts or offering online services (graphic designer, freelance writing or translation just to name a few!).
Can’t think of any skills you could monetise? You could start matched betting or doing online surveys. I do that every month and you can see here how much I made in the past few months.
What can help us manage our personal finances?
Go through your old stuff and get rid of what you don’t need. If you look at your stuff with honestly, you will find plenty of stuff you’re not using anymore. You could even konmari your whole house!
Put all the stuff you don’t need in two piles, one to be thrown away and one to donate to the charity shop.
Selling on eBay is also a great idea to make some extra money on the side!
Beware of boredom
Even after you’ve implemented all my suggestions above, if you’re used to living a very active life and spend most of your time outside, you could find yourself bored at home.
Internet is an amazing place to keep us entertained but it could also easily be the source of some un-necessary overspending.
You’re going through so much at the moment that you feel you should treat yourself with some new clothes or accessories for the house. I totally get it, but we shouldn’t use this forced time indoors to waste money on stuff we don’t need. Especially if you’re just decluttered your life!
How about learning something new instead? There are so many free (or relatively cheap) courses out there, you could learn a new skill.
- EdX – where you can complete for free courses from universities and companies. You can even get a certificate at the end (for a fee)
- Coursera – somilar to EdX you can learn from universities and companies
- Skillshare – if you wish to learn something creative (this is a paid membership but they offer a free trial)
You could also listen to a podcast or read a book. If you can’t reach your local library (for obvious reasons) you could:
- Sign up at overdrive. This is a website that allows to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from libraries.
- Read over 60,000 free classics thanks to Project Gutenberg
- Listen to free audiobooks at Librivox
- Amazon Prime also offers a selection of books in their Prime Reading programme (that is if you already have Amazon Prime…)
Related: find even more fun things to do at home that are absolutely free
Move your body
Ok this is not finance related, but you should really move a bit.
Being stuck at home is not a good excuse to spend all your time on the couch re-watching Friends for the hundredth time.
Just head to Youtube for some great workouts you can do at home. If sweating is not your thing, do some yoga or stretching. I recommend Shona Vertue videos on youtube, you can find them here.
If the weather permits (and you have a garden) you could also do some gardening or start growing vegetables. That will get you to move your body a little bit and you will hopefully enjoy some home grown (and free) veggies this summer.
I hope this answered your questions!
Let me know in the comments below what are your strategies to manage your personal finances during isolation.