Budgeting in a time of uncertainty

I am super thankful that I still have a job at the moment that allows me to work from home a few days a week. I have leave to cover the additional days for now and hope that by the time it runs out things will have returned to semi normality.

But for those who may have lost their jobs or been stood down until things reopen it can be a scary time to know if you can make ends meet. These are a few things I have done to try and bring the ends together and stretch the budget where I can.

  • Cancel all non essential services. My sons school bought a subscription to a learning app I had so I cancelled mine and used theirs. Its only $15 a month but it all adds up. I also cancelled another service I was subscribed too which was $35 a month. 
  • Don't think that you need to go out and buy a bunch of toys for your kids to keep them occupied. Look around your home at what you can make that will keep them and you on the go. Paper and cardboard for crafts, get them in the garden, baking with you, painting on the windows to save paper!
  • Stretch the food budget. I have done a few posts about making the most of a tight budget. I will link them here, here and here. I actually have so much food at the moment that I don't even need to shop this fortnight. Use it up. Rice and potatoes all the way!
  • Pinterest is full of ideas on how to keep the kids occupied at home most only require a few items. I recently made salt dough dinosaur bones just salt, flour and water. 
  • Search for better deals. My contents insurance was recently up for renewal and a quick check of Compare the Market showed me that I could drop from  $270 a year to just $150. Even my own company was lower online but said that was new customers only. Why would I stay with them when I can get it cheaper elsewhere?
  • Work out what in your budget is draining money and shove it into savings instead. Once things are more stable you will have a great nest egg that you can use to pay off debt or jump on the share market. As I'm at home now I have no parking costs, no childcare costs and I have used 1/4 tank of petrol in a month! All of those things have gone straight into savings while I can. 
  • Switch to interest only on your mortgage if possible. No you wont get ahead but you wont have that extra payment hanging over your head either. As I said after things settle down use the money saved to make an extra payment if you can to make up the difference. 
  • Save power. Electricity bills will be higher with everyone at home now but we can do a lot to cut those costs. Unplug things not being used. Turn lights off, don't use heaters or dryers unless you need too. Because we are at home we have the time to hand clothes outside. I got into the habit of leaving the computer on all the time but am now unplugging it each night. 
  • Put money away each pay for things you know are coming up. I have $70 a fortnight going to registration and $30 for school costs (which will be saved until school goes back). My electricity is paid fortnightly for a 25% discount so I don't need to worry about a big bill every quarter. This means even if things turn tight later you don't have to worry about those bills. 
  • Don't pay extra until you are in a better position. For example I was paying off a creditcard but I cant redraw on it so I'm now putting that money in savings so that I have it for emergencies. Once I get over a certain amount and the economy is stable I will use that savings to pay off the card. 
Really its about scrimping now and thinking ahead. If you plan now while you are in a good place you will have a safety net for later. If you are in warmer climates even planting a garden is a great things for the food budget and for teaching the kids about food science. Sadly being in  Canberra our growing season is over but I am still hoping to get some late peas and am starting some lettuce inside. 
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