Early last year, the entire world was plagued with an unpredictable pandemic when Covid-19 spread like wildfire across nations and entire continents. Covid-19 brought with it death in the likes of which the current generations had never experienced before. The pandemic also brought with it economic disruption as countries came to a standstill and entire industries collapsed. Countries were plunged into debt, unemployment rates spiked and governments had to hand out relief for its citizens to survive.
If there is one thing that the Covid-19 pandemic clearly proved is the volatility of economies and the general unpredictability of life. The importance of having an emergency fund and practicing good saving habits was never more pronounced. Even if you are one of the lucky few who managed to keep their sources of income relatively stable, it is very important to cap unnecessary expenditure and stick to a tight budget as the economic windfalls of the Covid-19 pandemic have not yet become fully apparent.
Here are a few ways you can get better at managing budgets:
1. Keep records.
Probably the most important on this list, keeping track of your expenses is the first step in managing your expenses. It helps you separate your income and expenses, and identify where you can reduce expenses.
2. Set realistic goals
When making your budget, be realistic about it. Saving up to 50% of your income sounds wonderful but it is simply not possible most of the time and will simply demotivate you entirely. Allow yourself one month of normal expenses (remember to track it) and then set realistic goals for savings and expenses based on your normal level.
3. Reduce expenses
Once you have identified your expenses, your next step is to cut down wherever possible by being more frugal. The habit of sticking to a budget will stick with you even after the economy is stable and help you curb your spending. If your utility bills are spiralling out of control, it’s time to take a long, hard look at your living habits. Switch off unwanted lights and reduce use of air conditioners. Use washing machines only when there is a full load and water your plants at the bare minimum. Downgrade your cable TV or internet connections and reduce your telephone bills as much as possible. Reduce, wherever and whenever possible.
4. Try and increase income
While easier said than done, if you do get an opportunity to make some extra money, do not turn it down even if it means a bit of extra work. Every little bit counts and goes a long way, giving you some peace of mind should you face a financial crisis in the near future.
5. Save, save, save!
One key takeaway from the Covid-19 pandemic is to always be prepared! No matter how difficult it might be, try to tuck away a few thousand each money into a savings account. A little sacrifice now might prove to be greatly beneficial in future. If possible, try to budget for a separate emergency fund so that an unforeseen circumstance will not completely wipe out your savings.
6. Avoid long-term financial commitments
While it might seem more practical to break up a large purchase into 2-3 year monthly instalment schemes, try and avoid doing this while the economic ramifications of the pandemic are still uncertain. In case you end up losing your regular source of income, a large, monthly-recurring expense will be a great burden. Therefore, unless it’s a critical purchase, try and save up the cash and make the purchase in one go.
7. Avoid large, non-essential purchases
In the same vein, try and avoid any major non-essential expenses and try to get by until the economy settles down or picks up.
While managing a budget during the Covid-19 pandemic might seem next to impossible when you are simply trying to get by, a little planning goes a long way and helps you prepare for any eventuality. Managing a budget is a trial and error process and you might even find yourself needing to borrow money to make ends meet. Finding what works for you is part of creating a budget.
If you find yourself in a mountain of debt and are not ready to evoke force majeure, you can always contact a loan partner like OnCredit who can help you out with quick and easy unsecured microloans to help you find your way out of such predicaments.