With the pandemic stretching over several months now, many Americans are feeling the pinch more and more as Congress and the White House continue to stall over negotiations involving additional unemployment relief and more stimulus checks.
Even if your budget is already stretched thin, there are still a few strategies you can try, including mental tips that can help you manage your money during this time.
Here are the top three budgeting tips to help manage your money as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Most people tend to budget according to how much money they make and how much they need to spend within a given month as a lump sum. However, it can be more beneficial to think of your money more as a “per-spend” basis instead of a “spending per month” basis.
For example, instead of budgeting a set amount of money for groceries each month, think of how many times you need to shop for groceries in a given month—and budget for each individual trip, instead of for all of them combined.
In other words, instead of telling yourself you’ll spend $200 per month on groceries, tell yourself you’ll spend $40 per grocery trip, while limiting yourself to five trips. This can help you not overdo things during one of the first few trips, leaving little left for the remainder of the month.
Before you make any purchase, you should mentally consider what that purchase might cost you later and whether or not it’s worth that cost. Will you regret your actions or will it cause an undue hardship later? Your goal should be being able to mentally calculate the risk of any purchase and what trade-offs might result.
Three areas you should especially consider when making use of mental accounting is your future expenses, your current expenses, and your monthly bills.
So many people tend to live in the moment instead of thinking ahead to what the future might bring. However, it is much easier to cope with any financial stress you may face later in life by taking the steps needed to plan ahead. The last thing you want to happen is to have your cash run out during a time you need financial support the most—and not having a plan handy.
Before you reach that point, you should look into what government assistance programs are available, and also local organizations such as charities, churches, food donations and job hunting assistance.