10 money-saving tips for the coronavirus era

Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 7:46 AM CDT
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The coronavirus pandemic left many people hurting financially. Chris Wolgamott, Director of Financial Education with Meritrust Credit Union, has advice for anyone who is falling behind.

1. Evaluate your budget.

If you were furloughed or worked fewer hours, you may have less money now than you planned for. Set new goals, then align your budget to meet those goals.

2. Be wary of anyone offering to send you money.

Scammers thrive in times of uncertainty and worry. "If you don't know the person, and you don't have any business with this person, it's probably too good to be true most of the time," Wolgamott said.

3. Don't buy stocks without consulting a professional first.

With stocks so low, it's tempting to buy. Financial experts say you should not buy stocks with money you cannot afford to lose. Wolgamott says if you're new to investing, seek advice first. "I would personally shy away from doing stuff like that unless I really knew a lot about it or I talked to a professional who could guide me through it," Wolgamott said.

4. Stick to the necessities and cut back on all other expenses.

Take care of the most important things first. Rent and mortgage, food, medical needs, transportation, gasoline, and insurance should be top of mind.

5. Go into everything with a plan.

This even includes grocery shopping. Meal plan and make a specific list when you walk into the store so you're not tempted to buy things you don't need. Clip coupons for things only on your list.

6. Be cautious around sales.

Stores use sales and coupons to entice shoppers into buying things they normally wouldn't buy. Wolgamott says just because the sale saves you money on the product does not mean it's a good thing to purchase. If you purchase things just because they're on sale, you may end up spending more money than you intended.

7. But not all sales are bad.

Stores are hurting from shutdowns. Many companies are holding sales to encourage shopping, especially online. Wolgamott says if it's something you need and it's in your budget, you can take advantage of these sales. "You can get good deals and that's ok to do as long as you have the money to do it and again, it's about meeting the goals that you already have for yourself," said Wolgamott.

8. Ask yourself if you have a better use for that money.

Wolgamott says if you're tempted to make a purchase, before you buy it, ask yourself this question: "What am I giving up by purchasing the item I'm purchasing right now?"

9. Talk to your creditors about your situation.

If you owe them a payment but don't have enough money to pay, keep them informed.

10. Try your hardest to stay calm.

"Take a breath. It's very easy to stress out," Wolgamott said. "But we make poorer decisions when we are stressed out and when we're not thinking clearly."