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The Coronavirus is striking fear and anxiety, not just for the safety and health of our loved ones, but also on our finances. Some of you may be facing a layoff, furloughs, or reduced work hours. Cutting expenses drastically is a positive step in taking control of your finances. Even if you still have a job or feel that your job is secure, it’s safe to prepare for the uncertain. Now is the time to make every dollar count, and save for the unexpected. Here are a few personal finance tips on how to cut expenses during an emergency like this one.

10 General Tips to Cut Expenses during an Emergency

  1. Focus on your basic necessities – food, shelter including utilities, transportation, and basic personal hygiene and household items. Prioritize your needs, and separate your wants.
  2. Reduce consumption to the bare minimum. Use products sparingly, and minimize your use of electricity, heating, and water if possible.
  3. Make every dollar count by using up everything you have before purchasing more.
  4. Take a thorough inventory of your food, personal hygiene, and household supplies. Check your basic cleaning supplies like laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, and all-purpose cleaners. You may have more on hand than you think.
  5. Cut expenses and save aggressively.
  6. Cut out luxury items like gym memberships, dining out, clothing, makeup, books, hobbies, or magazines.
  7. Avoid online shopping unless for basic necessities.
  8. Avoid credit cards and borrowing from your retirement fund, if at all possible. Cut expenses, find other sources of income, or use your savings or emergency fund first.
  9. Renegotiate monthly bills like your cell phone plan, internet or cable bill.
  10. Learn how to live a life of contentment. Be happy with what you have and learn how to live a simple minimal lifestyle.

Tips for Cutting Food Expenses

  1. Get creative with what you have on hand. Use this website Supercook and enter the ingredients you have at home. It will generate ideas and recipes using your food items on hand.
  2. Consider decreasing your protein portions like meat or tofu by 25%. In its place, add cheaper filling foods like starchy vegetables, beans, or pasta. Chances are your family won’t even notice the difference.
  3. Stick to easy, filling, family favorite recipes like pasta meals, soups, or stews.
  4. Don’t be afraid to experiment and serve different types of food at mealtimes. Make breakfast or lunch items for dinners. It’s okay to have cereal, pancakes, omelets, or even sandwiches for dinner.
  5. If you have the ingredients on hand, try making some items from scratch. Brew your own iced tea, squeeze your own lemonade, or try making bread or pizza crust at home.
  6. Limit the amount of pre-packaged, convenience food items. Shred and slice your own cheese and cut up your own fruits and vegetables. Read this post on kitchen gadgets that save you money to find money-saving tools that pay off in the long run.
  7. Cut down on fast food or restaurants altogether. No matter how much you rationalize it, it’s cheaper to make food at home
Cut Food Expenses. Picture of dining out and grocery bag filled with produce with a pair of scissors cutting through pictures.

Tips For Cutting Shelter and utility Expenses

  1. If you’re paying extra mortgage payments, pause and save the extra cash for now. You never know if you might need it due to a job loss or furloughs. When this is all over, you can throw whatever you didn’t have to dip into at the mortgage. For now, beef up your emergency fund even if you have 3-6 months of basic living expenses already saved. It’s better to be safe than sorry later.
  2. Aim to use the least amount of electricity possible. Turn off lights when you leave a room, and use as much natural light as possible.
  3. Use less water by taking shorter showers. Consider taking a navy shower by trying to take the shortest shower possible. Turn on the water for thirty seconds to get wet, turn off the water, lather up, and then rinse off for a minute or less.
  4. Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face.
  5. Run your dishwasher only when it’s full.
  6. Reuse water as much as possible to water plants.
  7. Use natural heat from the sun by opening up window shades.
  8. Wear extra layers of clothing when it’s chilly instead of turning up your thermostat.
  9. Close doors and vents to unused rooms to conserve heat or cooling.
  10. Make sure all of your cooling and heating vents are clean, clear and open.
Cut Shelter & Utility Expenses. Picture of gas bill and blocks with mortgage picture with a pair of scissors cutting through pictures.

Tips For Cutting Transportation Expenses

  1. If you’re working from home, your commuting expenses should dramatically decrease. Save the difference in your emergency fund. 
  2. If you’ve been saving for unexpected car repairs or a new car, hold off and save it in your emergency fund.
  3. Clean out your car and make sure you’re not transporting heavy loads in your trunk.
  4. Call your insurance carrier and check for special discounts. Research and understand your current coverage. If you have an older car, it may not be worth paying for full comprehensive and collision coverage.
Cut Transportation Expenses. Picture of highway and train line with a pair of scissors cutting through pictures.

Tips For Cutting Household Expenses

  1. Use less disposable products. Use cloth rags instead of paper towels. Consider using cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.
  2. Cut down on toilet paper by using a bidet, washing with water, or simply using less.
  3. Use soap, dishwashing soap, and laundry detergent sparingly. Measure out the correct portion if required. Use every drop of product that you possibly can.
  4. Consider making your own simple DIY cleaning products.
  5. If you’ve outsourced housecleaning, yard work, or other house maintenance duties, consider doing it yourself. You have more time to spend at home and you can save money at the same time.
Cut Household Expenses. Picture of paper towels and various household cleaners and tools with a pair of scissors cutting through pictures.

Tips For Cutting Personal Expenses

  1. Take an inventory of all of your personal hygiene products. Don’t be afraid to dig into your stash of travel-sized products or free samples. Now is not the time to be picky. Use everything you have before you buy more.  
  2. When you think a bottle is empty, cut it in half to see how much is left. You may be able to get a few more uses out of it.  
  3. Don’t replace luxury items. Now is the time to question all of your purchases. Even though you may have a favorite luxury product, consider cheaper alternatives. If you don’t really need the product, consider getting rid of it altogether.
  4. Check your prescribed medications and order what is necessary.
  5. Check your vitamin and supplement stash. Only purchase what is absolutely necessary.  
Cut Personal Expenses. Picture of store shelf with hair care products and other picture with bottles and spray bottles in a wooden bowl and a brush with a pair of scissors cutting through pictures.

Tips for Cutting Luxury Expenses

Cut out leisure spending on clothes, makeup, crafts, and books

  1. Take the time to go through what you have and shop your own closets and shelves. You probably have way more clothes, makeup, craft items, and books than you originally thought you had.  
  2. Clean out your closets. Use old clothes as rags to cut down on disposable paper towels and napkins.  
  3. Rent books or magazines digitally from the libraries. If you don’t have a library, check your local library’s website to see if you can request a library card online. 
  4. Unsubscribe to all marketing emails. You won’t be tempted to window shop online.
  5. Clean out your makeup stash. Throw out expired makeup products. If you end up throwing out a large amount, this is a sign that you probably buy too much makeup in the first place.
  6. Raid your craft supplies and avoid starting any new hobbies. Use what you have and finish old projects before starting new ones. You most likely already have the supplies on hand.
  7. Cancel any monthly subscriptions for makeup, clothing, books, or other “nice-to-have” products.
Cut Leisure Expenses. Picture of rack of clothes and makeup products with a pair of scissors cutting through pictures.

Cut out entertainment

  1. Cut out entertainment entirely. Find free ways to have fun at home. Click on this post, Fun and Free Date Nights. There is a section on how to have fun and free date nights at home.
  2. Rent library books, magazines, and even audiobooks instead of purchasing them.
  3. Look for free online training courses. Watch YouTube for DIY ideas on just about anything.
  4. Don’t pay for on-demand movies if you have cable or a streaming service like Netflix.
  5. Face Time friends or use Google Hangouts to stay in touch with friends and family.
Cut Entertainment Expenses. Picture of couple dining out and picture with movie tickets and popcorn box with a pair of scissors cutting through pictures.

Final Thoughts on How to Cut Expenses during an Emergency

The Coronavirus pandemic is throwing the economic climate in a tailspin. You might be facing a layoff or a cut in income. This is the time to prioritize your spending and learn how to cut expenses during an emergency. Focus on basic necessities like food, shelter, transportation, and basic personal and household items. Slash expenses, use what you have, and learn to appreciate what you already own. Take control of your spending habits now, so you can save and feel financially secure during this time.

Please comment below and share your tips on saving money during an emergency. If you liked this article, please subscribe to the weekly newsletter below. You’ll get an email each week when I post a new blog article. Don’t forget to share on Facebook and pin to Pinterest to view later or to share with friends and family.

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