Nowhere on the planet has been untouched by coronavirus during the 2020 pandemic. Not only has this had a massive impact on public health but mental issues, family instability, and financial uncertainty have befallen many people.
Almost two million people have died because of COVID-19 and due to the aggressive nature of the virus, many countries worldwide have imposed strict lockdown measures. This has caused many people to lose jobs and become financially broken.
Some have been hit harder than others, but if you are lucky enough to still have some semblance of an income, there are some measures you can take to make your money go further in the new year:
- Tracking your expenditures
- Stopping things you don’t need
- Changing how you think about money
Taking note of just one or more of these tips can help you to make the most out of 2021 as the new year commences.
Income vs. expenses
One of the most overlooked things when it comes to finances is the correct tracking of income and expenditure. Many people spend money without even checking how much they have in the bank. A 2020 survey concluded that 65% of Americans didn’t know what they were spending month to month and had no idea how to track their finances.
Tracking your finances couldn’t be simpler. There are apps available such as Quicken, HomeBank, and Buddi, but a free and easy method is by using the humble spreadsheet. By tracking what comes in and then subsequently goes out of your bank account gives you great peace of mind when you know exactly what your balance is.
You may have many expenses but next to food, the most expensive outgoing most people have is their rent or mortgage, so if you are about property then finding the best HDB housing loan for yourself is worth the time. Taking advantage of food vouchers or meal deals is also a great way to cut the cost of eating well.
Open Office can be downloaded for free and comes with a spreadsheet program.
To track your finances with a spreadsheet, simply list everything that you expect to come out of your balance, the cost, and the date the bill is expected. This would take three cells. So if you added ten bills then the formula for calculating the outgoing total would be this:
Next, add a cell with your income for the month and underneath it add a cell for the month’s outgoing total.
Then use another cell with a simple formula to deduct expenditures from your balance:
=Income Cell – Outgoings Cell
Alternatively, you could use the app provided by your bank but sometimes there are delays in transactions and downtime for app maintenance so it’s better to track it yourself.
Cut out the costs
Another survey in Britain found that a total of £25 billion per year was wasted on unchecked items of expenditure.
The main bad habit people tend to do is purchase things that they don’t need. One example would be our entertainment packages like Amazon Prime and Netflix. Really think about it. Do you need Amazon Prime? The answer might be yes, but then think about whether you need the premium add-ons like Hulu, hayu, and Shudder for the horror fans. You can probably live without the extras.
Even if it is just temporary, cutting out some things you don’t really need can have a big boost on your available money in times of hardship. A good strategy is to cancel subscriptions every now and then just so you have a little more for the month.
Other outgoings you may not need include gym memberships (be honest with yourself), old insurance policies, and free trials that extended into subscriptions. A quick check of your bank app will show any of these and most companies have the facility to cancel online.
Get the right mindset
Lastly but probably most importantly, you might need to change how you think about your money. Having money and wanting more isn’t a bad thing. We all need it and it is a necessary fact of life. But many people simply squander money like it is nothing or purchase things they don’t need, especially just before the new year with all the sales going on.
However, what most people don’t realize is that having enough money to live on is a privilege that a large portion of global citizens does not have. Appreciating money is an essential part of spending it and knowing how to use it well is important if you want to make it go further.
Most people don’t have unlimited money, although that would be great but your cash is a finite resource and like all finite resources it will eventually run out. A good tip is to think about money in the long term rather than short term indulgences.
Like most, you probably receive your money monthly, so refer to your income and expenditure spreadsheet to plan what you have left after outgoings and then how much of that can be used for fun after savings.
Thinking about the money you do have rather than what you don’t have will make you appreciate it more and can help with shedding some desire by forcing you to save and then buy what you need rather than what you can’t afford and don’t need.
Have fun with your hard-earned money, but treat it with respect because if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that it can always be taken away.