Managing your money in the “new normal”

I don’t know about you, but I am struggling at the moment. I live alone, so have no contact with other people. Obviously I am FaceTiming and calling people loads, but its not the same. Whilst I am able to work from home, my “new normal” is a real adjustment – one that has not been altogether easy.

I’ve tried to build in some sort of routine to my days, but it is quite hard. I try to spend my working hours in my study, and have breaks and evenings downstairs, but it doesn’t always work out like that.

Overall though, I know I am very fortunate. I am able to work from home, and am on 100% of my salary at this time, but I know that for a lot of people, these are worrying times, and extra worries about money are not helping the nation’s mental health.

My budget, even though I’m working from home, has completely gone out the window. For example, I couldn’t tell you the last time I filled up with petrol or bought lunch out. I might not be driving anywhere, but I can claim mileage for my driving for work (which makes up the majority of my driving) I’m actually losing money. Then, when I do get a grocery shop, I am spending a lot more because I can’t get food out and about, whether at work or on the road, and also because a lot of multi-buy offers have been removed or reduced due to the retailers trying to discourage stockpiling and hoarding. I know I’m not the only one who feels that some retailers are even profiteering from these tricky times by increasing some of their prices. It’s also harder to shop around, as if you can get your shopping delivered, you have to take what you can get, and go with the supermarket that has slots, rather than your preferred choice or a discount retailer. 

I’ve had to go back to the drawing board in terms of my money and I started with a new budget. There are plenty of free budget tools online and they are a great place to start. 

Here are Bargain Bunny’s top tips for managing your finances at this tricky time:

  1. Write down EVERYTHING in your budget. When I wanted to start budgeting I started to track my spending. At the beginning though I would skip out little things like buying an extra can of soda at work each day. Once I realised how much it was adding up I immediately started adding in every purchase and the difference this made to my budget was incredible. 
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is relevant at all times, but especially now. If you are struggling to pay bills, speak to your providers. Some mortgage and loan companies are offering payment holidays for people affected by COVID-19 and the impact this has had on their finances. Whilst utility providers might not be able to offer the exact same thing, it is worth contacting them to see if there is anything they can do. Make sure you are receiving any benefits or entitlements you are eligible for as well, as this may make a big difference to your finances at the end of this time. If you are really struggling, make sure you reach out to a debt charity and they will be able to help you. 
  3. Consider making extra money. Whether you are still going out to work full time, or are furloughed at home, there might be time to pick up some extra cash via a side hustle. In particular there are lots of surveys and research studies on Prolific.co at the moment and these add up really quick, but check out other research and survey sites. Maybe now is the time to become a freelancer and sell your skills. You might not be able to go out, but you might still be able to make some money from home!
  4. Avoid anything which promises fast and easy money. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Examples of this are MLM schemes and free game apps.

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