8 Tips to Cut Expenses & Manage Your Money in Difficult Times
Cutting expenses is important in the best of times, but in difficult times it can become critical. Whether it’s a global pandemic, job loss, illness or something in between, tough times unfortunately happen to everyone at some point in their life. Not only do these hard times test your finances, but they also test your mental and physical health.
To help you overcome whatever obstacle comes your way, here are 8 tips to help you manage your money and find financial stability:
Tip #1: Negotiate your mortgage and rent payments
If you are unable to afford your full mortgage payment, consider contacting your bank to look at alternatives. If you are unable to afford your full rent payment, contact your landlord to let them know of your current financial situation and negotiate a payment plan with them. This can include negotiating a reduced payment for the next couple of months or deferring the payments altogether.
Tip #2: Negotiate your utilities and other monthly payments
If it is difficult for you to afford to pay some or all of your utilities or other payments, contact your service providers to request a reduced payment or deferral. Contact your lender directly for any debt/credit payment you may need to defer or to negotiate payments.
Tip #3: Create an emergency spending plan (budget)
If you are working with a reduced income during this period, your budget may no longer be relevant. Create a new budget that takes into consideration any changes to your income and expenses. A spending plan will help you take control of your financial situation, let you know where you are spending your money and may help to reduce your stress around money. When creating a new budget for this time period, look for areas where you can reduce costs (like entertainment, car insurance and your cellphone plan).
Tip #4: Reduce grocery and food expenses
Groceries and food/eating out expenses are a major expense for many people. Consider reducing this expense by reducing the amount of take-out you are ordering, shopping for generic brands and incorporating meal prepping. If you have a Costco membership, think about splitting it with a family member so you both can share groceries and save money buying items in bulk. If necessary, don’t be afraid to access your local emergency food banks during this time.
Tip #5: Be mindful of online shopping and entertainment costs
When people are bored, anxious or going through tough times, it’s become natural to spend hours online shopping or spend money on entertainment that one wouldn’t otherwise do. Take a look at your streaming, music and other subscriptions to see what you can do without. And take advantage of the streaming platforms offering free services! Be mindful to not get caught up in spending more online than you can afford!
Tip #6: Watch out for scams
Fraudsters are always preying on vulnerable people, especially those in crisis. Be wary of any communication from government agencies, service providers, etc. asking you to provide personal and financial information. For a full list of known scams, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. And learn how to protect yourself from fraud.
Tip #7: Consider additional sources of income
If you are going through financial difficulties, consider what additional sources of income may be available to you. This may mean applying for government benefits or picking up a part-time job. If you are a student, you may qualify for an emergency bursary or loan through your institution. Explore all your options.
Tip #8: Ask for help
Talking about your financial situation with loved ones can be difficult, but you’ll be surprised at not only how freer you’ll feel afterwards but also how much help may come your way. Whether help comes in the form of meals, money or services, your family and friends will be there for you when the going gets tough. And if you require professional guidance, seek out your local mental health resources. All you need to do is ask!
Remember, it’s okay to be worried! Whatever you’re going through right now, your feelings and concerns are valid. No one is ever truly ready for a crisis, so just take this time in strides. Your financial goals may need to be temporarily put on hold during this time, and that is okay. Focus on taking care of your necessities, your health and your loved ones first. And if you need someone to talk to, we’re here. Whether you require debt help, credit counselling, money coaching or financial education, Money Mentors’ empathetic, accredited counsellors are only a phone call or email away. Contact us today!