From our Household to Yours
Today’s post is definitely a new one for me but a thought I felt I had to get off my chest.
Much like others, the effects of Covid-19 have left Adam and myself thinking about our financial future 3 or even, 6 months from now. While we’ve all witnessed the weight of this pandemic on countries worldwide, healthcare systems and family relationships – we also can’t deny the discussion of the financial impact of this virus.
I feel like my inbox is bombarded daily with constant reminders of sale events, buy one get one free and more. While I understand and appreciate that supporting the economy is crucial at times like this, it’s also important to ensure you’re in a financially responsible situation to do so.
I myself am guilty of sharing the news of sales from well loved brands and more. And to be clear, I don’t think there’s any harm in shopping local, supporting small businesses or continuing to shop – as long as you’re in a financial position to do so.
Employed in the communications space, working remotely is something, up until recently, I took for granted. While I understand few have job security at a time like this, it’s assuring to know my entire job can be performed from the office of my house.
My husband, Adam, works in graphic installations and relies on the use of physical labour to fulfil his role on a day to day basis. While his team is working diligently to ensure they have continued work to support a company in the midst of Covid-19, we have had many discussions around being prepared for a very real risk: his company having to close due to lack of business. This is a reality we’ve seen many friends face in the past week or two who hold careers in hospitality, construction, dentistry, personal services and other sectors where employees have been temporarily laid off.
This will have been the second recession we’ve lived through since being married, owning a home and having to ensure we came out on the other side stronger than before.
I thought it might be helpful to share some of the ideas we put into practice in 2008 and what we plan to do again in the coming weeks.
We had a mini brainstorm on the weekend to pick apart what we can do to ensure we’re fiscally aware at times like this:
Set a Budget: This might seem like a no brainer but it always shocks me to talk to friends who let me know this is something they’ve never done. Adam and I share a Google Sheet we both have access to where a monthly laundry list of expenses and line items are listed. We try to meet once a week for 10-15 minutes to review our weekly purchases and keep tabs on how our spending is looking for the month. If we’ve overspent on eating out or shopping, we have time to pull back before month end.
Review your subscriptions: As a blogger, I have subscriptions to everything from Dropbox to GoDaddy to Adobe Creative Suite and more. While I can argue these are services required to do my job, taking a hard look at my use case and if there are lighter packages or cheaper options now available on the market, is always worth a look.
Identify essential services for the Household: We spent the weekend reviewing all of the small fees we have added to our budget over time: AppleTV, movie packages on our cable subscription, unused gym memberships and other services which required a review to ensure they were still of value to our household.
Shop around: We haven’t shopped out our cell phone or insurance pricing for years and while I’m not able to confirm or deny if we do have the best price, now seems like the perfect time to quote out revised estimates from 2-3 additional brands.
Preplan your Grocery Shopping: We’re notorious for making multiple visits to the grocery store each week to prepare last minute dinner ideas or satisfy late night cravings for ice cream. By preparing our shop in advance, we can not only save time but ensure we keep our grocery budget on track for the month. We’ve also tried to be cautious with what kinds of meals we’re preparing shifting from our usual organic, free range chicken entrees to meatless options or batch recipes like soup or chili that will provide us with leftovers.
Kickstart a Side Hustle: I understand this may not be an option for those who are required to collect EI in the coming weeks but if that’s not the case, options like Rover, Uber Eats, using your space to rent out rooms for AirBnB, Swagbucks and other apps can help to put some additional funds in your bank account by month end.
Clean out that Closet: I am totally guilty of hoarding items from seasons – even decades – past that I no longer wear. I set up a Poshmark account and have actually made quite the little stash of cash selling my gently used items to other gals across the country.
Review your automated deductions: We have funds deducted from our account every month for a savings account and RRSP fund. While we have plans to continue with these options moving forward, during the 2008 crisis, we found that shifting donations from our RRSP to a larger emergency fund helped us prepare for those out-of-pocket expenses we could be faced with (automotive, house maintenance) in addition to reduced incomes.
Unsubscribe: If the temptation is too strong to avoid emails from your favourite brands with 20% and 30% sales right now, consider unsubscribing from the emails or label them appropriately in your inbox so they can be directed to a subfolder.
48 Hour Rule: I’d be lying if I told you I made it through the 2008-2009 without buying a blouse here or a pair of jeans there. What I did find helpful was creating a Pinterest board of items I loved and saving the item to the board. I would force myself to wait 48 hours to ensure it was an item I HAD to have. If it was, the rule was to try and sell something in return to make up the difference in funds.
And last but not least: always have a back up plan. We’ve discussed what we’re both committed to doing in the event either of us are laid off whether it’s temporary work at a local grocery store, pharmacy, warehouse facility or elsewhere. Being open about what our plan is now will ensure we’re able to execute on next steps should the worst case scenario become a reality rather than focus on the negative.
I’m sure some or most of these tips could be redundant for you but I wanted to give you a peek at what we’ve been up to in our household to prepare for what could be in store.