Surviving the 2020 quarantine, financially speaking

By Damian Galvin

As with any emergency situation, the first thing to do, evaluates your situation & identify what should, must and can be done. Identify your current and potential resources, however unlikely or unfavourable.

Short term action:

Make a list of all of your expenses, regular and irregular

For each expense, identify if it can be

  • cancelled,
  • postponed,
  • reduced

Examples,

  1. Rent: renegotiate your rent. Start with high ambitions. Set out to have zero monthly expenses. Of course, this is not likely to be possible; but that should be your aim. Any improvement will help you. Work from zero up, not from your current outgoings downwards.
  2. Research low-cost meals, use own-brand foods rather than premium brands, use lower-cost supermarkets (eg Lidl) rather than the more expensive ones (e.g. Carrefour/ Mega Image, convenience stores).
  3. Look at your bank statements and identify where you are spending most, historically. Make a list of things to avoid.
  4. Cut down on food shopping. Most people are surprised to find out how much they’re actually spending at the food store each month. These are the steps:
  • Look at what you already have in your cupboards
  • Save money on food shopping by planning out your weekly meals.
  • Don’t go shopping when hungry & don’t take the kids!
  • Use own-brand items rather than premium brands
  1. Cancel all automatic subscriptions and memberships including gyms, expensive cable TV, dating sites, Spotify, Amazon Prime, Wine club etc. Consider membership sharing (eg Netflix) with family or friends on the subscriptions or selling the ones you cannot cancel but do not need.
  2. Reduce energy costs.
    • Start with some simple things like taking shorter, not fewer showers,
    • fixing leaky pipes, turn off the heat in empty rooms,
    • washing your clothes in colder water,
    • Turn down the heating when you go to bed
    • turn off appliances instead of using standby,
    • avoid tumble drier,
    • use LED light-bulbs,
    • only boil enough water for drinks,
    • use lids on saucepans,
    • turn down the heat in the house (1% temp change costs 10% more energy!), close windows and doors.
  3. Unsubscribe from marketing emails. Email marketers are really good at what they do. They know the irresistible temptation of a flash sale or exclusive coupon. If you just can’t resist shopping when you see a special offer, click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. You’ll be less tempted to spend, and your inbox will be a lot less cluttered.
  1. Borrow, don’t buy. Need a tree trimmer for some weekend yard work or a handheld blender to make a batch of soup? Borrow it from a friend or neighbour instead of taking a trip to the store.
  2. Pack lunch (and eat at home). The average household spends more on food outside of the home each year than inside.  Buying lunch out a few times a week may seem harmless at the moment but you can save quite a bit of money just by packing a lunch.  Not only that, but you can also often purchase a week’s worth of groceries for the same price as two dinner meals out. Instead, prepare your food at home.
  3. Lower your mobile phone bill. Save money on your mobile service by getting rid of extras like costly data plans, phone insurance and unnecessary warranties.
  4. Try a spending freeze. Don’t buy any nonessential items for a week—or even a month! Think about it as a contentment challenge. Take an inventory of what you’re grateful for each day. This should help stem your “want-itus”.
  5. DIY . . . everything! Plus, you won’t have to pay someone to do something you can most likely do yourself. You might want to ask a friend or neighbour for help so you don’t have to spend money on basic car maintenance, home repairs etc.
  6. Drop the coffee shop. Instead of spending 5-10 Ron on that daily cappuccino, you can save money by just making your coffee at home.
  7. Try a “staycation.” When your goal is to save money now, a vacation is the worst thing you could spend your money on. Instead of whisking your family off to Croatia, try being a tourist in your own Country. Not only will this save big, but you can also explore with fresh eyes and have some fun while doing it.
  8. Sell everything (that doesn’t bring you joy). Get rid of the things in your home/ office that you don’t use, or that you’re willing to let go of for the sake of your financial future. Rather than look for things you don’t want, make a list of things you do want, and sell anything that is not on that list. That old exercise bike? Sell it. That old video camera or home printer? Sell it.   You’d be surprised at how much clutter you have in your home.  And the money you can make on those things can be the difference between living without income and having a fully-funded emergency fund.

Longer-term action:

End your debt. Monthly debt payments are a crippling limitation. The fastest way to pay off debt is with the debt snowball method. These are the steps

  • List your debts from small to large regardless of the interest rate.
  • Make minimum payments on all your debts except the smallest.
  • Overpay as much as possible on your smallest debt, This method is known as the ‘snowball method. More info can be found here on why it works.
  • Roll that payment, once cleared, into the next on the list
  • Repeat until each debt is paid in full.

Save money automatically. Set up your bank account to automatically transfer funds from your current account into a savings account monthly. Spend extra or unexpected income, bonuses, refunds wisely by putting the money away.

Keep a track of major expenses and set targets for savings. Reward yourself when you reach the targets with a special event,, eg dining at a particular restaurant, only used for such milestones & not at other times,

Download this expense tracker to see where you can make immediate changes as well as long term changes to your outgoings and incomesCost tracker

You can reach Damian for more info on finances and real estate at Damian.Galvin@whitemountain.ro, White Mountain Property

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