We’re all aware of how important it is to make sure we’re practising social distancing and isolating ourselves from others. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) both are crucial in helping to stop yourself and others catching coronavirus.
But this isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us, and it’s an understandably tough time for people all around the world, with many having to self-isolate at home for the foreseeable future. For some, this will have an additional, damaging impact on earnings and make saving money more important than ever.
If you find yourself in that camp, we’ve put together a short, helpful journey on how to save money while isolating. So take your time, put a coffee on, and let’s get going. It’s time to make self-isolation work for your wallet.
One of the first ways you should consider to save money is what financial support you’re entitled to from your government. It can take a while to get the ball rolling so best to get started as soon as you can.
The UK government has announced an unprecedented package of loans, grants and benefits intended to make sure everyone can save money and has some form of financial support in these difficult times. Many other governments around the world, including the USA, Canada and Australia have introduced similar money-saving measures for their citizens.
In the UK there are:
The UK Government has summarised their support for individuals affected by Covid-19 and this is a useful starting point. Consult your government’s website for their official advice on Covid-19 support.
The next port of call is your current account. Are there any subscriptions or direct debits that you’ve been umming and ahhing about? Now could be the time to cut them loose or have a look around to see whether you could get a better deal elsewhere to save money (more on this to come).
The UK Citizens Advice Bureau has estimated that the average UK citizen wastes £640 a year on unwanted subscriptions. For example, there might be a few of you in the house with your own Netflix subscriptions – why not combine to one cheaper ‘Family’ subscription and save money?
These might seem like small things but put them together and they can represent a big money saver for you and your household.
It’s possible to get better deals and save money on household bills if you have the time to shop around.
Your first port of call could be your energy bill. Latest research from UK regulator Ofgem shows switching energy providers in the UK could save the average household up to £305.
Switching energy suppliers can seem like a serious undertaking but there are services and advice available, like Money Saving Expert, which simplify the process.
Services like Choose Energy in the USA let you compare energy providers and get the best deal, or if you’re in Canada, LowestRates.ca will help you save money on insurance, mortgages and credit cards. Wherever you’re based, there will likely be a comparison website available to help you save money on household bills.
From gyms and bloggers like Joe Wicks offering virtual classes, health and fitness apps like Down Dog, who are offering free access to their home fitness app, to guided meditation and mindfulness with Headspace, there are a variety of normally paid apps that are offering free access for the duration of lockdown.
Now, technically this won’t put any money back in your pocket, but it will save you money on what you would have normally paid for the services. Just remember to set a reminder to cancel them before the normal paid service resumes.
Many of us will have had events in the calendar over the coming weeks and months that look like they might not happen now. Whilst there’s nothing we can do about that, what we can do is save money by making sure we’re not left out of pocket by the cancellations.
Have a run through your calendar and make a list of anything you’ve already paid for. Most event and transport providers are offering free refunds, but you will still need to claim for them as most will not refund automatically. In terms of how to save money easily, this is a no brainer.
The same goes for holidays. If you’d had a family getaway planned that’s now been scuppered, Which? has a good guide on how to get your money back.
Now that you’ve cleared out that calendar you’ll have more time than ever to explore the world of live streams, virtual museums and art galleries.
Global institutions like the Louvre, British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have opened their virtual doors and are ready to welcome you.
Many musicians, comedians and artists are also generously live streaming their work for free, so you can save money on those big ticket prices. Time Out is a great source of the best live streams and covers many different countries.
We have a helpful blog that covers some of the best virtual ways to stay cultural under lockdown.
Now that we’re on top of our bills, apps, and calendars it’s time to think about how to save money a bit more creatively. Going to the supermarket is risky business at the moment, so there’s probably never been a better time to start sowing, growing, and baking at home.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a garden then why not try your hand at growing your own vegetables. The Royal Horticultural Society has a comprehensive (and importantly, free) guide to growing any type of veg you can imagine.
If you can’t work in a garden, fear not, there’s an array of herbs that can be grown indoors. Check out this handy guide from Good Housekeeping on how to get started.
Switching to own-brand supermarket items, and trying to plan meals ahead of time are both good ways for a family to save money on food in these uncertain times.
FutureLearn has an array of courses to keep you learning during lockdown.
If you’d like help with household budgeting, check out The Open University’s ‘Finance Fundamentals: Financial Planning and Budgeting’ course, all about how to make good financial decisions.
If you’d like to know more about COVID-19 itself, London School of Hy gene & Tropical Medicine’s ‘COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus’ course explores coronavirus from its inception to the search for a vaccine.