By Daisy Mos
COVID19 has impacted millennials’ finances in a way that no one could have predicted. The world has been hit with the full force of this pandemic, emotionally, physically, and economically. If you’ve found yourself in a difficult position financially for any reason, it can be extremely stressful and daunting. Try not to worry, as there are many options to offer you help and support throughout this difficult time.
For millennials, coping with finances is a huge concern. Battling financial difficulty is hard enough without having worries about precisely what the future holds. Trying to get settled into a career during a time of uncertainty can leave people at a disadvantage. Indeed, being forced to accept a job you feel you have no choice overdue to money troubles can impact long-term careers and earning potential.
Here we will discuss some essential things to consider as a millennial struggling to cope during the pandemic to help you regain control and de-stress.
Accept Things That Are Out Of Your Control
The impact of COVID19 on the economy and job market is unprecedented. Millennials have lost their jobs, been put on reduced hours, furloughed, or feeling uncertain about their future within their job. While you can spend hours job hunting or worrying about what will happen, you have to accept that some things are out of your control.
It may be difficult; however, it is the best option to help you take a step back and approach things in a much more measured and rational way. If you’re continually blaming yourself or thinking you could have done more, you won’t progress towards where you need to be. So, the first thing to do is accept that yes, the future is uncertain, but it is essential to focus on putting yourself in a strong position for whatever will happen.
The best way millennials can approach this, especially amid the COVID19 pandemic, is to have stable finances. If you can set as much money aside as possible while working, apply for help through universal credit or work overtime for a few weeks, you will be in a good position for anything that will come your way. If you’re struggling, remember that there is plenty of financial support available to help you get through this difficult time.
Prioritize Essential Spending
Once you’ve accepted the situation for what it is, you can create a list of your essential expenses to know precisely where you are, financially. Here is a crucial list to get you started, although you may have other items that you need to add.
- Council Tax
- TV Licence
- Public Transport
Once you’ve identified what you need to be spending and how much you will be spending, you can easily visualize where your remaining money should be going. You can’t avoid some things when it comes to spending, so calculate how much you need as a bare minimum each month, and then you can go from there.
If you’re in a position where you have some disposable income (a financial surplus), it’s time to be sensible and save as much as possible. For example, if worst comes to worst, it’s best to have some money in an emergency fund to help you get through a tough spot.
If you lose your job, welfare claims can take a few months to the process, so even a small amount of money could make a big difference in helping you to survive the months that follow. Create an emergency fund, and find the best savings account possible to set your money aside. If you don’t lose your job or find yourself in a stronger financial position than you’d imagined, having savings is just a bonus!
Cut down on your essential spending (needs)
While the list at the top is full of essential expenses (needs), there are ways that you can save money. Here are a few ideas to help you cut down on your essential spending:
There are plenty of ways that you can cut down on your food shopping. One way millennials can help their finances amid COVID19 is to create a meal plan. First, create a meal plan for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week. With a meal plan, little to no food will go to waste, and you’ll only buy what you need. You can find plenty of cheap meal inspirations online to make delicious food on a budget. To be sure, you’ll end up spending so much more money without a plan.
Next, go food shopping when you’re full! You’d be surprised at the extra items you’ll pick up if you feel hungry. Going to a supermarket after you’ve eaten will help you stick to your list and save some money.
Millennials: Creative food shopping means good finances amid COVID19
Head to the frozen food aisle. Supermarkets have so many frozen food options, and you’ll find that the price of frozen meat, fruit, and vegetables is much more reasonable than fresh food. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the food going off for a very long time! However, avoid pre-packaged meals as they are expensive and unhealthy.
When selecting where to do your food shopping, consider discount supermarkets. Many people avoid them as they prefer brand name products, yet the quality of no-name products in places like Aldi and Lidl is outstanding. You will get so much more for your money in these places, and they always release new products, making food shopping a bit more fun!
Finally, control your portions. Weighing out your food to make sure you’re not eating more than you need. Also, it will reduce your weekly food spending. If you bulk buy ingredients to make a spaghetti bolognese or curry, it may be tempting to eat more than you usually would. So, once it’s cooked, weigh out sensible portions and freeze whatever you won’t be eating in the next few days.
Internet and Bills
Paying for the internet and other utilities are essential, they are your “needs”. However, look for better deals on your internet connection, insurance, water, and energy providers. There are so many price comparison websites that’ll get you the best quality service for a low price. You may be paying much more than you could be elsewhere. Shop around to find the best deal for all your utilities, and you’ll be surprised at how much you could save.
Energy and Water Usage
Another great way millennials can save their finances amid COVID19 is to reduce your energy and water usage. Try energy-efficient light bulbs that could help reduce your energy consumption and turn off lights when you leave any room. Only boil as much water as you need in the kettle, wait until you have a whole load of washing before setting off the machine, don’t leave your TV on standby, and spend a couple of evenings a week playing board games or reading books to reduce the amount of time your TV is on. These are all relatively small things that could make a massive difference to your bill.
When it comes to water, there are so many things millennials can do to cut down. Make sure that none of your taps or toilets are leaking or dripping. Indeed, this can waste hundreds of liters of water over the month. Keep your shower time to a minimum and invest in water-saving showerheads. While they slightly reduce the flow, I doubt you’ll notice much of a difference at all. Don’t leave the water running while you’re brushing your teeth or shaving. Wash your dishes by hand where possible, without leaving the tap running for too long when rinsing. Finally, watering more on one day is much better when watering the garden every day. It’s because not enough water will nourish the plants if you quickly skim over the whole garden.
Make sure you take photos of your electric and water meter every couple of weeks and keep them safe so that if you ever get charged more than you think you should be, you have evidence of your usage.
Get a Roommate
If you have a friend or family member looking for somewhere to live, try finding a place together. Room-mates are a great way for millennials to save on finances amid COVID19, at least temporarily. Millennials will save so much money when it comes to paying bills, maintenance, etc. It can also work out cheaper when food shopping for two people as less tends goes to waste.
Try a Budgeting App
When money is moving in and out of your account all the time, being organized is key. For this reason, it’s essential to learn how to make a budget (and follow it!) There are some fantastic budgeting apps out there that help you keep track of exactly where your money is going. You can set budgets for things and create sections to see where you are spending your money. For example, the app would tell you once you had used up your budget for the food section, so you’d know to cut down elsewhere if you needed another week’s worth of food. Being able to visualize your finances in one place will keep you on track.
Readjust Your Expectations
When you reach your mid-twenties, all of a sudden, millennials feel pressure to become homeowners, have no debt, and lots of savings. Yet, for many millennials, this isn’t financial reality, especially during the COVID19 pandemic. You shouldn’t take financial risks in such an uncertain time if you’re not in a stable position to do so. It is so important not to compare yourself to others as everyone’s success comes at different times. Focus on your own life and finances without comparing yourself to others.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
If you’re in a terrible position financially due to losing your job or having your hours cut, then don’t suffer in silence. There are many financial aids out there to support you. You’re not alone. Making cuts in your needs might not be enough in your situation, but there are other options out there.
For business owners, there are also many resources available. Governments have set aside millions to help people like you keep your business alive, ready for it to thrive again soon enough! Speak to your landlord or commercial property management team to discuss where things stand in terms of payments and see if you can come to a fair conclusion together.
Research exactly what you’re entitled to and apply as soon as possible to make sure you can access the money quickly. Also, if things are terrible, don’t be scared to visit a food bank. Food banks are there to help people who are struggling to afford enough to eat, so you should not feel as if you are undeserving. Once you are back on your feet, you can give something back to your local charities, but they are there to support you, so make the most of it.
Speak to Family
When you’re feeling worried and concerned, speak to your family. Perhaps not to ask them to help you financially but rather to offer advice about how you can make some changes. It is likely that at some point in their lives, your parents and grandparents would have had money troubles, and their wisdom might reassure you that everything will be okay.
Sell Unwanted Clothes
A great way for millennials to help their finances and earn a bit of extra cash amid COVID19 is by starting a side hustle. For example, you can start selling your unwanted clothes. Head to sites like Depop, which let you advertise your clothes for free and sell them on the app. Once sold, they will then take a small cut from each sale. Something that you haven’t worn for years could be just what someone else wants. For the best chance of selling something, take plenty of pictures against a bare wall to make it look as professional as possible. Even if you only make $10, that could make a big difference to your budget. Plus, it’s extremely environmentally friendly to sell on your clothes, so you’re doing your bit for the planet!
While there are plenty of things that can help millennials during the COVID19 pandemic, the most important thing to take from this article is that you and your finances are resilient. You shouldn’t suffer alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or talk to people about your financial problems. Try to stay positive and seek help to overcome this challenging period.
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Photo credit: iStock