Time to Sharpen Your Survival Skills
No, I am not referring to surviving out in the wilderness, I am talking about how to take steps to financially survive this pandemic. The first thing to remember is to use what resources you have available to you for the most good. The pandemic has cut into everyone’s income. For some, it may be a job loss or furlough, for others, it could be in the form of having to pay higher prices at the grocery store. No matter which situation you find yourself in, reducing your expenses can be accomplished in several ways.
- Plan how you will use your resources
- Substitute less costly goods and services for those that are more expensive.
- Find new uses for resources that you already have
- Consider cooperating with others to stretch resources
- Take advantage of available community resources.
Careful planning is key to stretching every dollar you have. Identify what your family needs and separate that from wants. Discussing this as a family is important to get everyone involved in the decision process. Plan before you shop by making a list, organize by stores or even store layouts to make the most of the time you spend shopping. Planning also gives you a chance to search for the best price, consider ways you can use what you already have on hand and resist impulse buying.
Look for less expensive sources for the goods and services you need. Many times, you can find a less expensive item will work for your needs. Consider the product features and decide if you need all those bells and whistles. Those extra features often drive up the price of an item.
Consider ways you can use your time and talents to provide what you need. Cooking a pizza at home instead of ordering take out is one example. Buy in bulk and portion into smaller packages to use in the future. This is sometimes much less expensive than buying individual packages of everything. Borrow items you only use occasionally or consider bartering what you need from a neighbor or friend. Instead of gift-giving, can you offer free childcare, lawn mowing or ride-sharing?
Waste reduction can help to extend your money. Make the most of each trip in your car, wash full loads of clothes and dishes, learn to do basic home and auto maintenance yourself. It seems you can learn just about anything on the Internet these days.
Coops are not a new concept but working with others to stretch your resources can save you money. Some examples of Coops are childcare, carpools, freezer meals, etc. It just takes some creativity to solve a common problem as a group.
Lastly, see what local resources are available to you. It may take making several phone calls, but there are numerous resources available for people in need. Some well-known resources are SNAP(food stamps), TANF, LIEAP(energy), food pantries, health departments, etc. If you think you may be eligible for them, take the time to apply. Most applications require online submission.
Are you getting cabin fever? There are numerous outdoor activities including parks, museums, hiking trails, games, libraries and more. Many of these activities are free or low cost. I often find great low or no-cost ideas online. If you are interested in more tips and ways to stretch your resources. Check out the newly updated publication series: When Your Income Drops; Sharpening Survival Skills.