2020 has not been an easy year for most of us. While mental health has taken an undeniable hit that’s going to take some time to rehabilitate, perhaps the biggest way many people are suffering is in the financial department. The economy in most countries has experienced a pretty significant downturn, so if you’re struggling for money during this difficult time, know that you’re far from alone. Here are 10 of our best tips and tricks when you’re struggling for some cash.
1. Take out a loan
There’s an old received wisdom that taking out a loan isn’t good for your financial health, but that isn’t necessarily true. If your credit rating has taken a hit recently due to job losses or other adverse economic circumstances, then looking for good-quality bad credit personal loans can actually improve your credit score if you pay them back promptly. This shouldn’t be used as a long-term solution to financial trouble; rather, it’s an excellent short-term boon while you seek a more permanent source of income.
2. Count out the cash
Research has indicated that we spend more when we’re using cards than we would if we had to hand over actual, physical cash. With that in mind, if your budget and monthly outgoings allow you to do so, it might be a good idea to withdraw your monthly spending money in cash, then spend it as and when. The coronavirus lockdown has made this more difficult; many physical shops aren’t open, forcing you to spend online. Still, when shops reopen, many will still accept cash, so this may be a tip to bear in mind.
3. Cut out smoking and drinking
We know that this is often easier said than done; 2020 has been a year in which creature comforts are more important than they’ve ever been. However, both smoking and drinking are expensive, and in the case of the former, definitely detrimental to your long-term health. If you can, try to cut out smoking and drinking, and you’ll be amazed by the effect this simple step has on your budget. Cigarettes and alcohol are some of the most expensive daily “necessities” for many people, so cutting them out will have a huge impact.
4. Cancel your subscriptions
With many businesses moving to an exclusively subscription-based economic model, we can sometimes be left with subscriptions we don’t remember starting, or things we signed up for that we no longer need. It’s a good idea to regularly comb your bank account for subscriptions that you no longer use and get rid of them. One way in which businesses can sometimes make money is to exploit the fact that you’ll often let free trials elapse without cancelling, too, so be wary of that.
5. Let go of brand loyalty
There’s a growing contingent of analysts who agree that brand loyalty is damaging for consumers. If there’s a particular brand you believe to be superior, it may be time to let that brand go in favour of something cheaper and more economically viable. We’re not saying you have to give that brand up forever; just try to find an alternative that doesn’t break the bank if your favoured brand is expensive. You’d be amazed how similar certain brands can be when you remove marketing and public impression.
6. Cut back on takeout and cook more
Healthy, nutritious ingredients can often be bought from supermarkets for surprisingly little these days. The takeout food you order on a regular basis is likely a heavy drain on your wallet, so cut back on ordering out and try cooking your own meals at home a little more often. It’s surprising just how much of a transformative effect this can have on your life, not just in terms of your finances but also in terms of your physical and mental health.
7. Cycle instead of taking public transport
With the coronavirus still unfortunately circulating in many countries, one of the best ways to limit your exposure to other people is by cycling as many places as you can. This is also an excellent way to save money. A bicycle does require a significant initial investment, but once you’ve paid that flat fee, the bike is yours to take where you want. Cycling will improve your physical fitness and save a huge amount of money in bus fares or train fares.
8. Switch off lights and heating
Obviously, we’re not advocating freezing to death in the dark. Instead, if it’s possible, switch off the heating in rooms you’re not using. This will have a big impact on your overall heating bill. In a similar vein, don’t keep the lights on in rooms that are currently empty. Lightbulbs use a pretty surprising amount of energy, so opt for energy-saving bulbs where possible and turn off the lights when you’re done using them. Small actions like this will have big knock-on effects when it comes to your bills.
9. Have friends over instead of going for coffee
Again, this will be something to consider once the coronavirus crisis is less pressing than it currently is, but one way to save money is to invite friends over instead of going to pricey coffee shops. Often, it’s not the quality of the coffee that matters; it’s the companionship, and you’ll still have that no matter where you are. If your friends are real friends, they won’t turn down the invitation just because it’s not an expensive café at which you’re meeting.
10. Shop own brand
Some supermarket goods are practically identical to big-brand namesakes. Some, in fact, can even be superior to their more expensive counterparts. It’s always worth shopping for smaller-brand alternatives to your big-brand shops, as own-brand supermarket goods are almost always cheaper and the difference in quality is usually negligible. If you and your family have particular favourites, try to introduce a new version of those favourites to save some money.