Spending a lot of time at home during the coronavirus pandemic might be helping you save money in some ways (everyone's cooking for themselves a bit more), but it also might be sneakily forcing you to spend more money (lights on all day, in every room + impulse online shopping, anyone?)
That's where personal finance and frugal living expert Lauren Greutman comes in with her top tips for saving money while staying home during a time when money might be tight.
To save money on electricity ...
1. Switch to LED bulbs + get a programmable thermostat.
Lauren suggests swapping any traditional bulbs you might have with energy-efficient LED bulbs to save on electricity.
As for the thermostat, "You can program the temperature down at night to save a lot of money," Lauren says.
2. Cook with your Crock-Pot (slow cooker), Instant Pot (multi-cooker) and/or air fryer instead of your oven.
Cooking at home, rather than ordering out, saves money in and of itself — but avoid using your oven to save money, too, Lauren suggests.
"That actually uses a lot less electricity," the frugal living expert explains, "so you're going to [see] huge savings throughout the month."
Lauren likes to prep 10 to 20 (!!) freezer meals at once, so she can pop in her Crock-Pot each morning — making dinner a cinch!
To save money on impulse online shopping …
3. Remove your saved credit card info from all of your favorite sites.
"That way, to make an impulse purchase, you actually have to get up, go get your debit card or credit card and think about your purchase before you make it," Lauren says.
4. Put your stimulus check into a free savings account.
"My recommendation is to put it into a free savings account and let it sit there for when you really need it," the personal finance pro says.
That way, you won't feel tempted to spend it on a brand-new outfit or expensive watch. (We get the urge, though!)
Plus, look into deferring your student loans if you need to.
While Lauren doesn't suggest putting off minimum credit card payments, she says you can possibly receive loan forgiveness for a couple months.
"If you have student loans, you can defer them to pay them at a later time without any penalty," Lauren says. "[Just] contact your student loan company and ask if you could have a deferment because of what's going on in the economy right now — and a lot of them are giving you a grace period for a certain amount of months."
To save money on groceries …
5. Take advantage of free rewards apps, like Fetch Rewards.
"All you have to do is scan your grocery receipts into the app and they give you points for gift cards," the frugal living expert explains.