When it comes to money matters, almost everyone is affected. At one point in life, you are faced with a situation where money becomes a challenge, and you have no option but to stretch your budget to makes ends meet.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. From losing jobs to taking pay cuts, the situation has proven that someone ought to be prepared for anything. There are several measures one can take to ensure that you survive with what you have, depending on your status.
Here are ten realistic ways you can use to stretch your budget;
Buy in bulk
It’s obvious that buying in bulk can help you save money on some items. When choosing this option, make sure to purchase items that a non-perishable or have a longer expiry date. Items such as tissue paper, rice, soap, cooking oil, toothpaste, etc., take time before expiring.
Buy necessities only
When trying to stretch your budget, forget about the ‘luxurious’ things. These include things that you can actually do without. Items such as bacon, sausages, juice, or snack like chocolate, biscuits, and ice creams are comfort foods. You can resume buying them once your financial situation goes back to normal.
Get a roommate
This might mostly work for people without a family. If you are living alone, find someone you trust and live with them for a few months. Getting a roommate helps you save on rent, bills, shopping, and even housework. You might end up cutting on the money you’ll use when staying alone by a half.
Cook your own food
If you are used to eating out or ordering in, you might have to teach yourself how to prepare simple meals. The good thing is, there are lots of tutorials both on YouTube and Pinterest to guide you in cooking any food you want. Buying an average meal in Kenya, say rice and beef, will cost you about Sh200 or Sh300 in other areas. If you use this money to cook, you may prepare a meal that will take almost three days.
Minimize what you need
Have you ever checked on how much detergent you use when washing clothes or even the amount of cooking oil you use in preparing meals? Most of us use more than what is required. You might use half the amount you normally use, and it will still serve the purpose. Consider minimizing on such things.
Plan your meals
Now that you’ve learnt how to cook a few meals, plan on how you’ll eat them throughout the week. When planning your meals, consider cutting on meat and focus on buying foodstuffs such as beans and green grams—try using eggs in place of meat and chicken. They are cheaper and healthier in terms of calories.
Go for a slower internet
If the internet you use at home is mostly for entertainment, saying downloading and streaming movies online in HD, consider using a slower internet. If you pay for a 20mbs speed internet, try using 10mbs; it might not be as fast, but you’ll still be able to watch the stuff you want. Even for those working at home, unless your work requires you to have really fast internet and download huge files, pay for slower internet.
Minimize energy consumption
There are numerous ways of minimizing energy consumption while in the house. Have you ever checked how much energy you consume washing your clothes using a machine or the heater while showering? Instead, try washing your clothes regularly to avoid bulking them—shower in the afternoon when the water is not so cold now that you are working from home. Avoid switching on the lights if you do not require them. You might be surprised at how much you’ll save by doing such things.
Avoid moving around if you could
Staying at home sometimes might be boring. However, if you look at how much you use fuelling your car or the fare for public transport, you might consider staying at home when trying to stretch your budget. Only move around if you need to, say going to the hospital or if your work requires you to.
Make a plan and stick to it
At the beginning of the month, you make your budget on how everything will fit when you’ve stretched your budget. However, if you don’t stick to it, you’ll go back to the drawing board. Put sticky notes around the house if you can, to help you remember the plans you make. Sticking to the plans you make will not only help you survive on your strained budget but also give you peace of mind.