29 Sep 23

How To Create A Budget During The Coronavirus Pandemic

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Last Updated on: 2nd October 2023, 09:49 pm

How To Create A Budget During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Hey there! With everything going on in the world right now, it’s totally normal to feel anxious or stressed about money. A global pandemic can throw anyone’s finances for a loop. But having a budget – even a simple one – can help you feel more in control. This article has some tips to help you create a budget during these crazy times.

Take Stock Of Your Current Financial Situation

Before making a budget, take some time to analyze where you’re at financially; you want to know what you’re working with. Gather up any bank statements, bills, debt information, etc. and make a list of:

  • Your current income sources (job, unemployment benefits, government assistance, etc.)
  • Your regular monthly expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance, etc.)
  • Any outstanding debts (credit cards, loans, etc.)

This will show you how much money is coming in versus going out each month, which is key to making a realistic budget. If your expenses are more than your income, you’ll need to cut back on spending.

Prioritize Your Essential Expenses

The pandemic has likely changed some of your regular expenses. With stay-at-home orders in place, you may be spending less on things like commuting, eating out, entertainment, etc. Focus first on budgeting for your essential, non-negotiable expenses:

  • Housing (rent/mortgage)
  • Utilities
  • Groceries/household necessities
  • Insurance (health, car, etc.)
  • Medications
  • Minimum loan/debt payments

Having these basics covered will provide some peace of mind. Be sure to include any new essential costs due to the pandemic, like delivery fees for groceries or supplies to work from home.

Evaluate Your Other Expenses

For your non-essential expenses, really look at what you can reduce or cut out entirely. With many places closed, you likely won’t be spending on things like:

  • Dining out
  • Entertainment/recreation
  • Gasoline
  • Public transportation

See where else you can trim – cable TV, gym memberships, subscriptions, etc. Even reducing these non-essential costs a bit will help free up cash to cover the basics.

Maximize Any Government Assistance

With the financial impacts of coronavirus, the government has introduced programs to help people, like stimulus checks and expanded unemployment benefits. Be sure to research what’s available and take advantage of any assistance you qualify for. Some options to look into:

  • Unemployment insurance – eligibility has been expanded
  • One-time stimulus checks – $1,200 per individual
  • Suspended student loan payments
  • Suspended evictions and foreclosures

Every little bit helps, so apply for anything you might qualify for – it’s free money during a difficult time!

Get Help From Your Bank

If you’re struggling to pay loans, credit cards, or your mortgage, reach out to your bank/lenders to see if they can offer any assistance. Many banks are working with customers impacted by COVID-19 by:

  • Waiving late fees
  • Reducing interest rates
  • Allowing skipped payments
  • Offering payment deferrals

This relief can free up a lot of room in your monthly budget. Be proactive in communicating with your bank about your situation – they want to help!

Look For Ways To Earn Extra Income

If you’ve been laid off or had your hours reduced, finding a side gig can really help. Things like online tutoring, freelance writing, web design, delivery driving, and more are doable from home. You may also be able to pick up part-time work at an essential business that’s hiring. Even a small amount of extra income makes a difference!

Use Your Stimulus Check Wisely

When that stimulus money comes in, it can be tempting to spend it on non-essentials. But be smart and use it to shore up your budget by:

  • Building up emergency savings
  • Paying off debts
  • Covering any income gaps

This one-time payment is best utilized for financial security, not impulse purchases. Be wise!

Create Your Budget

Now it’s time to actually make your budget! List all of your income sources, then map out essential expenses first followed by non-essential ones. See where you can trim and optimize. Apps like Mint, You Need A Budget, or EveryDollar can help with tracking.

Make sure to build in a buffer for unexpected expenses that come up. Having some wiggle room is always a good idea. And be sure to revisit your budget periodically and adjust as needed – it’s not set in stone!

Reduce Stress Around Money

Money is one of the top causes of stress even without a pandemic. Don’t obsess over every penny – just take it one step at a time. Reach out for help from banks, government programs, or financial advisors. Talk with trusted friends and family for support too!

Learning to budget and manage money better will benefit you well beyond COVID-19. You’ve got this!