The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak is continuing to impact people and lives worldwide, and it’s also begun to take its toll on economies and global markets. More than likely, these effects will be felt for a long time to come, well after the outbreak.
Small businesses, independent workers and employees in industries that rely heavily on tips are unquestionably the most vulnerable in times like these and likely to take the biggest hits. That’s why it’s more important than ever to support local businesses in our communities.
At the same time, it’s also a good chance to review some of your regular spending and find out where you could afford to cut back. Here are some tips to get you started...
If you're stuck at home, there are countless at-home workouts you can find online and do right in your living room. So should you still be paying for a pricey gym membership? While many large gyms have put membership fees on hold (since they’re closed due to Covid-19), if you’re used to getting your workouts in at the local yoga studio or a smaller gym in your neighbourhood, they might need all the income they can get right now. Don’t cancel direct debit payments to help support smaller gyms and fitness instructors. Many places are offering credit or discounts in the long-term as an option, instead. Some small gyms are even offering live virtual classes in exchange for members paying whatever they think is fair.
If you have a sitter, dog walker, cleaner, gardener or other houseworker, for their safety and yours, they might need to stay home for a little while. You could offer to still pay them, even if they can’t show up to your home for the time being. Instead, you could come up with a payment plan that you’re both happy with. For example, you could offer to pay them in full now, and get your money back later, in installments. Remember that for many people, this is what they rely on to take care of and provide for their own families.
Many people opt for additional services from their local laundromat such as dry cleaning because we’re too busy to do this ourselves and because we need our pressed, clean clothes each week for heading into work. But given that many people are working remotely these days, this is one additional thing you’ll certainly be spending less on. To still support your local laundromat, do your wash and dry with them as you’d normally do (even if it’s fewer clothes than usual), and support them by buying packages to use later on (such as for extras like steaming and ironing).
Whether it’s magazine subscriptions, paid apps, cable, expensive sports channels or multiple streaming services, this might be an excellent time to review everything you’re signed up for or have downloaded. Only keep what you’re most interested in and what you’re actually making use of — and put all the rest on pause. Or you may even consider downgrading and finding plans that actually work out better for you.
It might also be a fantastic time to renegotiate your services. From your phone contract to your broadband subscription, many companies would rather offer you a better deal than lose you as a customer. Therefore, take advantage of this time to make a few extra phone calls to your service providers. It’ll be worth it as it can end up saving you some cash each month!
When it comes to planned holidays, whether to cancel or postpone your travel plans completely depends on your individual situation. Some accommodation websites, such as Airbnb, are offering full refunds on any bookings. But if you’re indifferent about when you travel and can reschedule your holiday, you can accept one of the flexible options that many companies are offering instead of cancelling. For example, many airlines are providing passengers with new travel dates or even vouchers which could be used for up to a year. It’s best to check your airline or travel agency's website for updates on what they can do for you under the circumstances.
Some people might hesitate to order food right now from local restaurants via popular delivery services like Uber Eats or Deliveroo, for fear of contamination and spread of the virus. However, in response to the outbreak, many of these companies have put in place extra measures for the protection of you and their employees. For example, many now include a contactless delivery option where your food can be left at the door. If you want to be extra cautious, pick up any food deliveries with gloves on, dispose of the packaging and wash your hands before eating. In general, though, the risk of contamination is said to be quite low when it comes to food delivery. Therefore, many experts say you can continue ordering food from your favourite apps. Many delivery workers depend on this job as their main source of income, so keep paying for your favourite meals and tip generously (you’re likely saving big on dining out anyway).
If you’ve signed your kids up for extracurricular activities, whether it’s dance, sports or summer workshops, consider postponing the classes instead of asking for a refund. Many small schools and local community organisations count on these enrollment fees to keep their programs up and running. Plus, many of the instructors will need this money now more than ever, so opt for a reschedule if you can.
You may be at home, thinking about all the extra money you’re saving by making your own morning cappuccino versus stopping into your local coffee shop on your way to work each morning. While this is a great way to save right now, you may want to think about buying gift cards at your corner store bakery, small coffee shop, neighbourhood pub or even local boutique to support community businesses in their time of need. You can then use your gift cards later, once everything’s returned to normal. Some coffee houses also sell their own pods for popular coffee machines, so it might be a good idea to stock up on some of your favourites!
We want to take this opportunity to thank gig economy workers for keeping our cities going in this crisis — from filling our supermarket shelves to delivering food to the most vulnerable; you’re helping us all to be social-distancing safely.
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