Easy Ways to Save Money While Staying at Home

Everyone is spending more time indoors due to the stay-at-home orders put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic has also created financial uncertainty, and many of us are looking for easy ways to save money while we're home.

At a time when so much is being disrupted, it's important to find ways to adapt without compromising the things that bring you and your family joy. Here are some tips to help you make adjustments that protect your budget without giving up your favorite parts of your daily routine.

Hit the unsubscribe button

It's easy to ignore emails from your favorite merchants when you're crunched for time on a daily commute. Staying at home can mean more time to open those sales emails. You might find this makes you more likely to browse your favorite online stores and make unplanned purchases.

Removing temptation can save money with a few clicks. Go through your inbox and unsubscribe from any retailer selling goods and services that don't fit your budget. Luxury items and once-in-a-while indulgences are a great place to start. You might also unsubscribe from retailers specializing in things you won't need during stay-at-home orders, like apparel or outdoor equipment.

Go free-trial hopping

If not having a daily commute has freed up time to catch up on TV shows and movies, you can use free trials to plan your viewing and save cash.

Many popular streaming services might only feature a few shows or movies you want to see, and most come with free trial periods. Make a list of the shows you want to see most on each channel. Then, subscribe to only one free trial at a time. You should have enough time to finish a whole season or two of a show or watch several movies before your trial is up. Be sure to set a calendar reminder for the day before your trial expires to prevent a service charge.

Plan your meals ahead

Stay-at-home orders mean you likely have multiple people eating every meal at home. Meal planning is one of the easiest ways to save money, because it controls food costs in multiple ways.

Try batch-cooking some dishes that will last across multiple meals, like soups, stews and casseroles. You can do a web search for low-cost, large-batch recipes. This form of meal planning can help you plan groceries for the week ahead and get a real picture of your food costs so you can maximize your savings.

Planning out meals can also help reduce your food delivery expenses. When you use a delivery service, you're paying for service fees, delivery fees and tip every time you get a takeout craving. If you're able to do your shopping at the grocery store, those costs disappear, and a meal plan will minimize in-store impulse purchases.

Let in the light

Being home all day can mean a significant spike in your utility bills. To help reduce the impact on your monthly budget, keep large overhead lights off and open your curtains during the day.

For workspaces, use a smaller desk or area light instead of overheads. This will help reduce your electricity costs and keep your home light and bright. As an added bonus, you and your family will get a much-needed dose of Vitamin D.

Be smart about the thermostat

Having multiple people at home fiddling with the thermostat all day can put a dent in your utility bills. Instead of nudging the thermostat to keep you warmer or cooler, keep the settings where they were when you were still commuting.

You might even consider moving your workspace to an area of your home that gets great light and keeps you comfortable with sun and shade all day. Keeping your house even one degree cooler in the summer or warmer in the winter can have a noticeable impact on your utility bill.

Saving money while social distancing can help protect both your budget and stress levels—taking action and being proactive can often make us feel better when we're worried. The key to cost savings during these uncertain times is planning.