March 26, 2020
When I was a kid I remember getting money from my grandmother for my birthday. Once I was past a certain age it was easier for her to send a card with a $20 bill and a simple message:
Love, Memaw Byrd
I remember my dad immediately taking the crisp $20 bill and putting up in an envelope on the top shelf of his closet. Much to my dismay, he would say,
Let’s save this for a rainy day.
Today, as I sit here in my new, work-from-home office (my dining room table) and I cannot help but think, Dad was right. That rainy day is here.
Times of uncertainty like the ones we are experiencing now are why having an emergency fund is so important.
Social distancing has us all at home – not at restaurants, stores or the movie. So while it might not seem like the best timing, there are some ways you can begin saving while doing your part to slow the curve. Start saving for a rainy day. Trust me, you will be thankful you did.
Where to Begin
Start by evaluating where your money is going right now. Review your bank statements and credit card statements for a good picture of where your money is spent. Knowing where your money is going each month is the foundation for building a realistic budget. We have a great online tool to help you keep track of your finances each month.
Look at where you can cut back on your spending. The goal is to shrink the amount you spend on wants and needs to make more room for saving.
Ways to Save
Here are some ways to start building that rainy day fund while staying home now:
Entertainment: Social distancing has caused all large group gatherings to be cancelled so take that reimbursement for sporting events or concert tickets and put it straight into your savings account. Money that you would typically spend on entertainment (dining out, happy hour, seeing a movie) can now be put into your savings account.
Food: Make your grocery store runs or orders count. This one has been tricky for us because inventory is so unreliable. Pick up versatile foods you can eat a lot of different ways. (There’s shrimp kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried…) And some that’ll last a while. Think: peanut butter, potatoes, apples.
Subscriptions: Look at all your regular monthly payments to see what you can freeze (your gym, clothing rentals, subscription boxes). Or cancel altogether. Are you really using that gym membership? This is a good time to think about which subscriptions are worth your money vs. the ones you forgot to cancel after the free trial ended.
Housing: If it’s about time to renew your lease, play hardball. You could have more negotiating power if the coronavirus slows demand for rentals. If you own, consider refinancing. Mortgage rates recently hit record lows so do your homework and make sure you’re getting a good deal before re-signing on the dotted line.
Prescriptions: Getting medicine from a mail-order service can be quarantine- and budget-friendly. If your doc and insurance approve, generic and 90-day supplies could also save you money.
Thankfully, times like these are very few and far between. And, we will get through this, together. But the reality is that rainy days will come, so I encourage you to start preparing now. Rainy days give your emergency funds a chance to shine.