America is going through tough economic times due to the shelter-in-place orders closing down various non-essential businesses. In turn, millions of workers lost their jobs. The latest report from the federal government shows there are 33 million unemployed Americans. While some people believe the economy will rebound after the country reopens, I’m not so sure. Those unemployed Americans may not get their jobs back. So I’m preparing for difficult times in this country, and you should too!
Preparing For Difficult Times: Higher Food Prices
I already wrote about how to combat the meat shortage going on right now. In view of that, we are seeing higher food prices overall. Rice saw a 7-year high. Eggs and orange juice prices increased. Finally, farmers are destroying crops because they can’t find sellers, or they can’t find workers to pick the crops.
Even though the government is going to buy food from these farmers, it will take time for that food to make it to grocery stores. Until then, prices will continue to rise. So what can we do?
I am buying as much food as possible and freezing it. My local Sprouts farmer market had great sales for the last three weeks for meat and berries. So I bought as much as I could and froze it in freezer bags. I implore you do the same. Especially if the food items are on sale.
When it comes to dry goods, you may have to go to different stores to get them. I know my local Wal-Mart can’t keep much of these in stock due to people buying them. So check out places like Family Dollar or Dollar General. Many people forget about those stores.
If you are unemployed or have reduced working hours and have little money for food, contact your local food bank and/or church. Unfortunately, they are seeing higher requests from loads of people due to these tough times, but you can still get food. With this in mind, you may have to wait in a long line to get the food.
Preparing For Difficult Times: Reduce Your Debt
I believe banks and lenders are going to tighten credit lines even more. Many are concerned because millions of Americans are unemployed and could run to use their credit cards to pay their bills and survive. And since that’s unsecured debt, the banks and lenders have little recourse of getting paid if the debtor doesn’t pay.
What I did in mid-2019 was pay off my last debt. As a result of that action, I saved more money. I highly recommend you develop a plan for your debt if you are still working. Now is the time to work on 1) not incurring more debt and 2) pay down what you have.
If you are unemployed, then I suggest contacting your creditors and get on a payment plan or a forbearance plans. However, you need to read the details about those plans before signing up. Some creditors may allow you to stop paying for a period of time, but then require all the back-payments when the forbearance ends.
Preparing For Difficult Times: Reduce Your Expenses
While preparing for difficult times I went through my expenses and cut stuff I could do without. That includes some expensive treats like protein cookies or Brazil nuts. Maybe you like to buy makeup or beauty items? Or you like to pay for monthly subscription boxes. Consider postponing those purchases or find more frugal alternatives.
Also, verify how much you spend on monthly utilities like electricity, water, natural gas, and phone. Afterwards, find ways you can reduce your usage.
Given that it’s warmer now and more people are stuck at home and using the air conditioner, I recommend you keep your thermostat at 76 degrees. Yes, this could be quite warm to some people but the cost savings are dramatic. This is what I keep my thermostat set at.
With this in mind, the next biggest draw of electricity are lights. I keep most of my lights off if possible and use natural sunlight instead. When evening rolls around, my timer attached to my living room light turns it on. This light stays on until morning when the timer turns it off.
Finally, if you want to get really strict with electricity usage, you can invest in smart power strips that turn off electronics when not in use.
If you pay a variable rate for water usage each month, you will need to monitor that to save money. Turn it off when you brush your teeth. If you have a dishwasher, only use it when it’s full. Finally, take shorter showers.
Depending on your location and your natural gas provider, you may or may not be able to save money in this category. I have a gas water heater and furnace. Since it’s warm, I’m not running the furnace, but I must use the gas water heater. I know of some people who lower the temperature of their water heaters to save money, but that can be dangerous to your health. The water temperature should be at least 130 degrees.
If you have a landline phone still, double-check to see if you actually need it. However, this can be included at no cost with certain Internet package plans.
Most people have a cellphone, however, and may have a more plan than they need. As a result of this, you could be paying a higher price. Check with your phone company to see if they have lower-cost plans to suit your needs. If not, then do some research about other phone companies and see if you can save money with them.
Check For Payment Plans And/Or Discounts From Insurance Companies
Check with your insurance company to see if they are offering premium discounts and/or payment plans for car insurance since more people aren’t driving right now. I have Progressive and they sent me a notice that they will give me a 20% discount for April and May premium payments.
Preparing for difficult times is not easy. We in America live a lavish lifestyle and it’s hard to decrease that. Yet, there’s nothing wrong with downsizing or reducing your expenses. Living this way will not only save you money, but also reduce your consumption which helps out the planet.
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