Tips & advice on getting your finances back on track.
During this time you might find yourself getting a bit stir-crazy. It can be difficult to find activities to do inside the house that are budget friendly. If you also have kids, you’ll need to figure out ways to keep them entertained as well. With many non-essential businesses closed, your family will find themselves having more dinners at home and finding at home recipes can be tough. Here’s our complete budget friendly crisis survival guide.
Being on lockdown, in your house, with your entire family is not something that you might have planned for. Certainly, this situation is also something that you probably didn’t budget for. Although, even if you have your emergency fund, that won’t necessarily cut it for this long-term crisis. If your kids are home all the time now too, that’s another added expense that you will need to work into your budget. You’ll have to make a new budget that is different from your usual monthly budget. After you’ve established a crisis budget, reevaluate it every week to see what’s working and what’s not working. Your new budget will need to change depending on whether you’ve been laid off or are able to continue working. Learn how to create a budget here.
Only spend on ESSENTIAL items
If you find yourself with a ton of down time, you could be tempted to browse the Internet and fill your online cart. Online shopping for non-essential items is something you need to evaluate carefully during this time. This is not the time to replace your whole wardrobe because you simply have nothing else to do, although it’s tempting. It’s not just your wardrobe, it can be so easy to browse through Amazon and buy random household items because you feel like you need it. In reality, you probably don’t need a whole lot of extra stuff. If you normally budget for online shopping every month, you might want to cut this aspect of your regular budget out for your new crisis budget. This is a great time to practice a new frugal lifestyle and, when it’s all over, you might find that a more frugal budget has its upside and is not so difficult to stick to.
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Working from home
Many companies have transitioned their employees to working from home. This can be a huge adjustment if you’re not used to it. First, you need to establish a workspace that’s separate from your usual living space. Having a separate space will help you avoid temptation from your household activities. Setup a space that’s similar to your workspace at your office. By doing this, you’ll be able to keep your work mindset. Write a daily agenda for yourself to ensure you complete all your usual daily tasks. If you’re having trouble focusing, try sticking to your normal routine; get up, shower and get dressed in street clothes rather than spending your day in your yoga sweats.
Working from home can be harder if you have children who are also home from school. Every morning you need to establish with your kids what the plan for the day is. Establish set office hours and let them know what your office hours are for the day. During office hours they need to know that they cannot interrupt you in your workspace…unless it’s an emergency. You’ll also need to figure out what activities they will be doing during your office hours. Keeping your kids entertained and on top of their schoolwork while you’re working from home can be quite the task.
Keep kids busy
Depending on your child’s age, you might have to keep them busy during their usual school hours and after hours as well. Younger children need to be entertained and supervised constantly. You’ll have to get creative with keeping your kids entertained with all non-essential businesses closed, and you’ll more than likely want to keep things budget friendly. If your home allows it, schedule an hour or two of outside time a day. Bring your laptop or work phone outside so you can also send some emails while you supervise your kids.
Have a movie night on a Friday or Saturday night. Let your kids decide on a movie, pop some popcorn, and make it a family affair. This is a budget friendly way to relive your favorite family movies with your kids and maybe discover a few new favorites.
Baking is a fun indoor activity to do with kids. Your kitchen will get a bit messy, but you can always clean it up as a team. Even if you’re just making a box cake or brownies kids love to be involved. Baking can be a learning activity, have your kids read the recipe and measure out the ingredients themselves. They’ll be getting an applied life lesson while having fun. After your creation is done, let your kids decorate or ice the finished product. Don’t just stop at baking, let the kids plan the weekly menu and let them help cook dinner too.
Preparing every meal at home
If you can afford to support your local restaurants by ordering take out and curb side pick-up for dinner occasionally, that’s great! But, if your budget it tighter right now, opt for cooking at home. Now that you have more time at home, let your inner creative chef shine and prepare your meals yourself. There are so many online recipes that you might have wanted to try, but you’ve never had the time. Try a cuisine that you and your family have never had. Travel the world one dinner at a time. Find a play list from that country or culture to play during dinner. Your family won’t get tired of eating the same things your normally cook.
While trying new recipes is an awesome option, you also want to make sure you’re sticking with your budget when purchasing your ingredients. Navicore offers some great budget meal recipes and videos, you can see our favorites here. Before you go to the grocery store, plan out your meals for the week based on your budget. If you plan your menu in advance you will make fewer trips to the store and reduce your social contact and risk.
Read More: Budget Meals: Indian Butter Chicken
Set aside time for yourself
Like everyone else, you’re finding yourself at home way more than what you’re used to. During these isolating weeks, it’s important to keep on top of your own mental health. Staying inside everyday can take a toll on your emotional and mental state. If your ‘you’ time used to be going to the gym every day, do a home workout every day. Get creative with your workout routine. There are so many online workouts and your gym might even be offering virtual classes via Zoom now. If the weather is nice, go outside for a walk, jog, or run and you’ll be able to not only get a workout in, but you’ll also get out of your confined space for an hour.
Being an extrovert right now is rough. Extroverts thrive on being around other people and keeping on top of their social life. One solution is keeping in contact with your friends via Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom. We live in a digital age, take advantage of it. Plan a virtual happy hour with your friends. You’ll get to socialize and share a laugh as you would during a normal happy hour or a weekend night at the bar. Checking in and talking to your friends a couple of times a week can help you keep your sanity during these uncertain times.
This is a new situation for all of us, but don’t forget that you’re not alone. Being at home all the time can be stressful. If you feel overwhelmed, just take a deep breath and remember that you can get through this. Create a new routine so at least you have some kind of schedule in place during quarantine to help keep everyone in your household sane. Remember, we’re in it together and we can survive and thrive during this crisis.
Katherine Fatta is the Social Media Coordinator at Navicore Solutions. She creates fun and informative social media posts that engage the public.