Scissors for trimming a budget.

Trimming The Budget When Furloughed

With the pandemic and the partial shutdown of the economy, thousands of people are being furloughed. The sudden loss of income has caught most by surprise and necessitates some immediate action. Now is the time to circle the wagons, trim down the budget and hunker down for the long haul. Let’s take a look at some places that you can start saving right now.

Let’s Make Some Cuts

Who knows just how long these furloughs will last and for that matter, whether you will be brought back at all. Companies are losing money and lots of it and they might just take this as an opportunity to restructure. This could easily turn your furlough into a layoff. Because of this uncertainty, now is probably the time to make some serious budget cuts.

Trimming that budget might actually not be as hard as you think. You just have to be willing to do a little work and willing to make some sacrifices.

Cut The Cable Cord

This is something that you should have done years ago. The average satellite or cable bill in this country is 100 dollars. Many have bills that can exceed 300 dollars a month with special sports packages and premium channels. Compare that to the 10 dollars a month that a streaming service charges and you can see that there are some serious savings to be had.

Yes, cutting the cord will change the way that you watch television, but this is probably a good thing. There may be one or two shows that you just can not find on a streaming service but you can easily replace them with others. In addition, since it is all online waiting for you to stream, you can do so on your schedule.

Cutting the cable cord can save you 90 dollars or more each month. That is over 1000 dollars a year. Big savings.

Slash The Food Budget

Once again, this is something that is incredibly easy to do and it will not even change your quality of life. If you need money desperately, it is a great way to save hundreds of dollars a month.

First, you can cut out the take out meals. You are probably not dining out, but if you are like most Americans, you are probably replacing those meals with delivered food. This can be just as costly with the charge for delivery and tip for the driver. A family of four can still burn 40 to 50 dollars with a take out meal when all is said and done. If you are uncertain about employment, this is money that you can not afford to lose. Replace these meals with those prepared by you. If you do not know how to cook, now is the time to learn.

Second, you need to start meal planning. Plan out the meals that you are going to prepare and then list the ingredients that you need. This will allow you to shop more accurately and not buy wasted items. If you go to the grocery store without a plan, you can easily spend an extra 20 percent on food that you will not even use.

Finally, switch to cheaper foods. You can make a lot of meals with three simple staples. Rice, potatoes and pasta. All three of these items can make delicious meals that cost just pennies a serving. Of course, you can not live on just these three things, but when you do buy other compliments to them, make it a generic. If you still buy brand name, it is time to make the switch. Most generics are made by big companies anyway.

Just taking the steps above can save you a huge amount of money. The average family of four could save up to 200 dollars a week and still eat well and probably healthier.

Save On Utilities

You and your family are probably spending a whole lot more time in your home. This can take a big toll on your utility bill if you are not careful. Now is the time to take some steps to prevent some costly utility bills.

One thing that you can do, which should be obvious, is adjust your thermostat correctly. Keep your heat a few degrees lower and your air conditioning a few degrees higher. Then, dress properly and use fans to make up for the difference. Simply setting your thermostat a few degrees in the other direction can save you 10 to 15 percent on your energy bill.

Another thing that you can do to save right away is to adjust that hot water heater thermostat. Most come from the factory set at 140 degrees. This is both dangerous and costly. Turn that thermostat down to 120 degrees and save. Your water will be just as comfortable and you will save a lot of money. While you are at it, take shorter showers and use cold water to wash your clothes.

Finally, take a look around your house and look at just how much is plugged in. Most of the electronics that you have consume some amount of electricity even when they are not in use. Unplug them when you are not using them to cut down on power consumption. Make this easier by hooking blocks of electronics up to power strips that will allow you to quickly turn them on or off.

Do A Budget Audit

Hopefully you have a budget. If not, now is the time to write one. A simple spreadsheet, available on most computers, will do.

Write down all of your expenses including allotments for things like entertainment. Then review this budget and see where you can make some cuts.

Is your auto insurance too high? Perhaps you can shop your policy around and find a cheaper price. Are your auto loans taking a big bite out of your income? Now might be a good time to look into a refinance.

Everyone’s budget is a bit different, but there is almost always room to make cuts. So, take a hard look at it now and try to come back to it every 3 months. Regular budget reviews are key to keeping your expenditures in check.

Wrapping Up

Times are tough right now and even if you have a job, you need to be careful. Companies are not only struggling to make a profit but also reworking how they do business moving forward.

So, even if you think your job is secure, you need to prepare for the worst. Make changes now to avoid real problems in the future.

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James Car is a finance, loan and budget expert based in the United States. After attending Brookhaven college, he went on to become a successful entrepreneur. He now enjoys writing articles that help people save and make the most of their money.