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How to balance your budget during quarantine

The pandemic could be here for a while. Plan your finances and budget your time accordingly.

None of us expected the COVID-19 pandemic to change the shape of our year – and when the guidelines for living at home came into force in March, very few of us imagined that we would still navigate quarantine, zoom meetings and online learning when we moved in in the fall. Habits that we thought would only be temporary, from giving children more screen time to wearing masks in the grocery store, have now become a staple in our daily lives.

In addition to worrying about our health ability to do our jobs and if our children get the education they need, many of us worry about money. A HoneyFi survey of 300 Millennial couples showed that 56% of couples felt less financially secure than they did before the pandemic, and 22% worried about money every day. The survey found that although many of us spend less than we did before quarantine, we also earn less – and save less. This financial strain is even more difficult for people of color; The racial wealth gap between white and black Americans continues to grow, and a new study from the Pew Research Center shows that Spanish workers experience higher unemployment than the general American population.

What does this mean for you and your family? We can not predict what may happen next – but we can prepare for it. (It's like how life insurance works, by the way.) The season back to school is often a fresh start for families, and although this school year will feel different, you can still use it as an opportunity to refresh and rebalance. We spoke with finance, parenting and productivity experts to learn their advice on balancing your budget, managing your time and creating space for both work and family life.

In this article:

Review your budget

We've been on this for a few months now, which means quarantine feels less like a deviation and more like a new normal. For your budget, it means planning accordingly, starting by reviewing how your spending habits have changed during this time. Example: your food budget. If you were surprised to see how much your food bills expanded during quarantine, you are not alone.

"Many people have spent more money on food during the pandemic," says Bri Bell, a registered dietitian who shares budgeting advice at Frugal Minimalist Kitchen. "Before you get too worried, it's important to dig a little deeper to find the causes." If you spend more on food because your family eats more meals at home, it's probably not something you need to worry about. "School lunches account for 1/4 to 1/3 of children's daily intake, so it's definitely to be expected that your food bill will go up without it," Bell explains. You may spend more on getting lunch at home, but less on work lunches and expensive restaurant meals. Also, since many families are trying to spend more time at home today, you can also save money on other budget items as well. "I would check your entertainment budget," Bell recommends. "If you have spent more on food but less on entertainment, it is likely that you have simply replaced your regular entertainment [spending] with food."

In addition to spending less on restaurants and entertainment, you may also spend less money on gas (especially if you no longer drive to work or school every day), and you probably did not spend much money on a large summer vacation. This year, many changed expensive travel plans for less risky and more affordable family vacations such as camping trips for the weekend. Every dollar you do not spend on a flight or hotel room can go to another area of ​​your budget – or to the vacation you hope to take when it is safer to travel.

In short, control your spending. If you spend more on groceries and less on other areas of your budget, you're fine. If your food bills have gone up but you still spend the same amount of money on takeaways, movie downloads, clothes and so on, it's worth making a new balance. See if you can keep your total expenses at or below where it was before quarantine – and consider adding some simple, affordable staples to your food list.

Invest in home-based pleasure

If your budget evaluation reveals that you will enter During your pre-quarantine spending levels, you can add some of that money to an emergency fund – but you can also add some of it to some fun fun.

"For parents who save money because they can not go out to eat, travel or attend events, now is the time to upgrade your home-based fun," said Olga Zakharchuk, founder and CEO of Baby Schooling. have small children and a garden, create a backyard destination with relaxation and fun activities. Set up obstacle courses, get a small pool, go cleaning hunts and invest in things like hammocks, garden games, furniture and outdoor lighting. "

Yes, this This type of upgrade will cost you money in advance – but it has the potential to save money even after the quarantine is over. "Unlike a night out at a restaurant, these things will keep you going for more than a season," explains Zakharchuk. Investing in home recreation will make your home more enjoyable – and when the home becomes a destination, you can enjoy yourself as a family without having to look for expensive entertainment options.

If you decide to ig to put this advice into practice, start acting early. For example, many popular inflatable pools were sold out at the end of May. Families who want to install patio heaters or fireplaces also have a hard time finding available storage. You can still find fun, unique items to make your outdoor space more interesting or entertaining, but the most popular items can be sold out months in advance – so think one season ahead and shop for what you may need in three months. (The Toboggan race season begins … now.)

“For parents who save money because they can not go out to eat, travel or attend events, it's time to upgrade your home-based fun.

—Olga Zakharchuk, Founder and CEO, Baby Schooling

Budget Time for Healthy Habits

Balancing work and parenthood is hard enough under normal circumstances. It is even more difficult during the stress of a nationwide pandemic – and even more difficult if you do not take the time to take care of your physical and mental health.

Lawrence Gonzalez, Government Accountant and Founder of The Neighborhood Finance Guy, advises busy parents to spend the last weeks of the summer shifting to healthier habits. “Start doing simple challenges like just drinking water in August. Go to sleep no later than for a week or two. Start waking up early to walk, jog or run. “Even a few minutes of light yoga or stretching in the morning can make a big difference.

Going to bed at 10pm can seem like an impossible luxury – especially with all those clothes you still have to fold or emails you still have to answer – but not getting enough sleep makes it much harder to be an effective parent or a productive employee. Taking breaks to rest and recharge can actually help you get more done, both at work and with your family – which means that rest and sleep are both essential aspects of work-life balance.

In terms of balance: Gonzalez and Bell both noted that the pandemic caused many people to adopt stress-eating or stress-drinking habits. If that sounds like you, ask yourself if it's time to cut back. "It's okay to stress once in a while," says Bell, "but as a daily occurrence, it can really take a toll on our health and budget."

Breaking a stress-eating or stress-drinking cycle. can be difficult, so start with substitutions: sparkling water, herbal tea, fresh vegetables or cinnamon gum. Getting more sleep can also reduce the urge to snack between meals or use alcohol to unwind.

“It is perfectly fine to stress-eat once in a while, but as a daily occurrence, it can really take a toll on our health and budget.

—Bri Bell, Frugal Minimalist Kitchen

Prepare for furloughs and layoffs

Many people were fired or competed in the first weeks of the pandemic – and more people may lose their jobs in the weeks to come. It is a good idea to start preparing for the possibility of layoffs or layoffs, even if you currently think your job is safe.

Steffa Mantilla, founder of Money Tamer, suggests that you start spending your money as if you lost your job. Ask yourself what expenses you have reduced, cut out those expenses right now and put the money into savings. “If you think you may be tormented, save your money as you have already been. This saved money should be deposited in a separate savings account and built up if you need to cover your daily expenses.

Lou Haverty, chartered financial analyst and creator of the Financial Analysis Insider, agrees. "There is no perfect way to budget for a fjord or a layoff because of their unbelievability. The goal should be to withdraw your savings in emergency funds. Look for as many ways to reduce discretionary expenses [as possible] and transfer it to the emergency fund."

Both Mantilla and Haverty suggested starting streaming services, if you are currently paying for Netflix, Hulu, Disney + and more it may be time to win your subscriptions to a single streaming option.You can always switch streaming services every month or so to keep things fresh. "The key is to accommodate different options over time, especially when you have children who are tired of a network's streaming library," explains Haverty.

Gonzalez also advises people to put more money into their emergency funds – and to look for additional ways to make money. "To balance the real anxiety, start saving for 3x-6x [your monthly income] and start generating side gigs at a distance." Ablair a side feeling is one of the best ways to prepare for an economic recession, so ask yourself where your skills can be most useful – and where you can make the most money.

Do not expect an increase [19659009] If you have been lucky enough to stay in your job during the quarantine, you have probably had to learn new skills, take on extra tasks and work longer hours. A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that COVID-19 created "significant and lasting increases in the length of the average working day", averaging 48.5 extra minutes per day.

Unfortunately, you will probably not be able to use the extra work for extra income – at least not right now. "I do not think it is possible to renegotiate your salary [during a pandemic]," Haverty explains. "But I think you should keep a good record of your performance during this time period so that you can remind your boss of them when the business environment improves and promotions are more likely."

We all hope that life will start to improve soon. Until then, we will continue to wear masks in public, practice social distancing whenever possible and find balance where we can. This includes how we budget our money and our time – so use this time to evaluate your starting habits, your health habits and your family's habits and routines. Then use what you have learned to prepare for the future, whatever it may entail.

Our Editorial Policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigating life insurance decisions, your personal finances and general well-being can be refreshingly easy.

Our Editorial Policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that is supported and wholly owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigating life insurance decisions, your personal finances and your general well-being can be refreshingly easy.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not support the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less difficult if they suit your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to provide tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide and should not rely on taxes, legal or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

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