Personal Budgeting during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Let’s be honest with ourselves: travel is not happening anytime soon. As we have a true love for all things travel, this is hard for us to admit. We started Budget Your Trip out of this love for travel, as we wanted others to know how travel can be a reality for almost anyone on any budget.

But for now, times have changed. To promote the idea of traveling right now is not just irresponsible, it’s also dangerous.

We (Bryan and Laurie, the founders of Budget Your Trip) are currently staying in. We want to keep ourselves and our family and friends safe. We live in North Carolina, and our community is currently experiencing a relatively large outbreak of the virus. While many communities in the U.S., and elsewhere in the world, might not yet be on “lockdown”, our area is. Local businesses and schools are closed by order of the state government. I’m afraid that this will soon be the norm for much of the country and the world in the next few months. The crazy stories of what’s happening in Italy won’t seem so crazy soon; they will be a reality. Based on the statistical data that is available to the public of how this is growing, things will get worse before they get better. While I hope I’m wrong about that, we should all prepare for the worst.

The Economy

Other than the worry of getting sick, the other major problem we’re all facing is… what should we do about our finances? As everyone stays inside and avoids large crowds, small businesses everywhere will face serious economic hardship. In my city, all of the restaurants and shops are closing by order of the government. Tens of thousands of individuals will lose their jobs as thousands of businesses close their doors. Furthermore, the suppliers to those small businesses will lose money, and then the suppliers to those suppliers will lose money. It’s a domino effect of economic losses that will impact almost everyone, no matter what your career path might look like.

So what should you do as an individual?

Making Smart Financial Decisions

In summary, be smart about your budgets. Cut what is not needed, but also keep in mind that the small businesses around you need help.

It’s very possible that many of the businesses you frequent are still open and working in some capacity. Restaurants in my city are open for curb-side take-out meals. Small shops often have websites where you can order their products. This is now the way that these businesses must survive during this horrible time. They have no choice, as it’s the only way they can make money unless the governments of each country and state provide some form of assistance to both individual people and businesses alike. Only time will tell.

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Tips for saving money at home

If we’re in this for the long haul, then we all need to be responsible about our own personal finances.

Analyze your spending

Buy what you need, especially groceries and household goods, but put off the more frivolous expenses. While it’s up to everyone to determine what is important for their particular way of life and their specific needs, this is the time to sit down and evaluate your shopping habits. After all, now that you’re stuck at home (if you’re not now, you soon will be), you have all the time in the world to do it, right?

Get lower prices for your existing services

Many companies in the U.S. (and we’ve heard elsewhere in the world, too) are currently offering reduced price or free services which you might be able to take advantage of during the outbreak.

  • Internet access might be free for you if you don’t already have it. Spectrum in the U.S. is offering free access for those that qualify, and other large providers have similar deals. If you are already a customer, it doesn’t hurt to call and figure out if they have a more affordable plan.
  • Phone companies are also responding with more variety of plans that offer lower services.
  • Look into your car insurance. If you’re not driving anywhere anytime soon, it might not hurt to reduce your insurance plan.
  • Your utility bills might qualify for a discount, give them a call.
  • Student loans in the U.S. are supposedly able to be put on hold during the crisis. Student loan companies are not advertising this despite the government decree, so you will need to call them.
  • Check on your recurring subscriptions, especially to online services that you might not use very often. (Just don’t cancel Netflix…. Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, and the other streaming services will be what ultimately saves the planet from becoming a Mad Max dystopia.)
  • Gym memberships are not a good idea, as this is a place where disease can spread quickly, and you can exercise at home.

What not to cut

While the economic and physical fear of the pandemic might make you want to cut everything out of your life, there are some things that you need to keep spending money on.

  • Food, obviously. Also keep in mind that if you’re stuck at home, you’ll have time to try out those new recipes, especially the ones that take awhile to make. While you don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy ingredients, you might want to consider making meals that are not just instant noodles and cold cereal.
  • Health expenses. Staying healthy is the best thing you can do for your body right now just in case you get sick later. Eat right, exercise at home, visit the doctor if you need to, and fill any prescriptions you might need

We are also a small business

It’s just us, my wife and myself. We occasionally hire freelancers to help us out, but we’re very small. This pandemic has so far taken a huge toll on our business, and I’m afraid it’s just the beginning. Website traffic is down, advertising revenue is down, and no one is interested in traveling anytime soon.

If you want to support this site, then click here to go to Amazon.com the next time you want to buy something (such as that truckload of toilet paper). We will receive a small commission, but the cost will be the same for you. We also have partnerships with a number of travel companies, so if you want to book hotels, activities, river cruises, or tours for 2021, we can send you a link where we also earn a small commission.

The future of Travel

In the long run, we WILL get through this as a society. People will then once again want to travel, because most people have an innate desire to see the world. When that time comes, we’ll be here to help you figure out how much it will cost, just like we always have.

But for now, stay safe, stay healthy, enjoy a good movie, and practice social distancing.

And if you have tips, advice, or want to just let us know how you’re doing, leave us a note in the comments section below, or drop us a message here.

– Bryan

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Bryan

Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won't let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.