Watching Our Money: The new normal in budgeting during COVID-19

Let’s face it – money is tight with COVID-19 looming over all of us. It’s a trickle-down effect where consumers or clients are forced to spend less, so service agencies and companies are taking a hit too. According to an NPR report released in April 2020, more than 17 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits.

With so many people on stricter budgets, how do we navigate all this new normal, especially when it comes to money? How can we spend more wisely? Where can we cut costs?

Much like consumers have been advised to cut back on certain luxury items or non-essentials, companies can follow suit. Look at where your spending happens and evaluate how you can either eliminate those services or lower their expense.

As part of the CARES Act, organizations are helping individuals and businesses get through these tough financial times by providing opportunities to lower ongoing necessary expenses. Utility companies, car insurance providers and more have offered lower costs or waived late fees for those financially affected by COVID-19. CARES is also offering financial support through loans and grants to small businesses so they can stay afloat during these uncertain times. It’s worth the call to ask for help and to invest in further research about what’s available to help lower or temporarily alleviate your business costs.  

Once you’ve explored how to lower your costs through these generous programs, can you still get what you need for your business?

To get access to necessary medical goods at a fair rate and in high quantities, California Governor Newsom took the team approach and leveraged the buying power of his state and others to get what they needed. Try this for yourself and identify what you need and how much. Pool your financial resources with your connections and buy in together. That way you all save on costs and everyone gets what they need. In this situation, teamwork can make the dream work.

Trade and the good ol’ bartering system—is also an effective practice. Dating back to 6,000 BC, bartering is essentially trading one good or service for another— no cash, moolah or dinero. Through swap meets and online sites like Craiglist, the practice still exists today. Brands also trade their goods for ad spots, promotional mentions at events and other marketing opportunities. It’s not the wave of the future (that we know of), but it’s worth exploring for the here and now, as appropriate.

If you do want to consider trading goods with another organization, think about what you have and what you want in return. Perhaps you have a surplus of an item and can spare your overage in exchange for another good or service that you need. Look through what you have on hand or the talents that you and your team can offer.  What about equipment? Do you have specialty equipment or perhaps something that can’t be easily obtained right now that others could use in exchange for something you may need?

Think about your options and opportunities. The best part is you’re saving money, because remember, there’s no monetary exchange involved with a barter.

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