Steps to Create a Sustainable Family Budget

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These uncertain times are forcing more and more people to re-examine their finances and rewrite their family budget.

According to the Pew Research Center, in a survey conducted shortly after the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, 33% of Americans either lost their jobs or suffered a pay cut or reduced work hours. Additionally, 49% said the outbreak posed a major threat to their personal finances.

Whatever your situation, reviewing your budget and making a few changes to it can save you money and secure your financial future. Here are four ways to budget wisely.

• 1. Calculate the net result.

Determine your basic income. Next, categorize expenses by what you need to maintain your standard of living, such as a mortgage, utilities, groceries, and insurance. Another category should include non-essential expenses. Consider whether you also want to set aside money for savings, retirement plans, or college tuition.

And, experts advise setting aside at least three to six months of expenses for emergencies. Once you have these numbers you can calculate what you will need on a monthly basis.

• 2. Eliminate or reduce valuable assets.

If your spending is still too high or you want to save more, re-examine discretionary spending and find ways to cut back. An easy way to save is to cancel premium TV channels, upgrade to a basic plan, or even sign up for a streaming service instead (Sling, Hulu, etc.). You can also ditch your DVR option to save on the monthly bill.

Digital streaming or downloading content from your local library is also another entertainment option. Everything from movies, music and magazines is available for free.

• 3. Find ways to save on essentials.

Everyone needs insurance, and many companies offer discounts if you buy both auto and home insurance. You can also search for unique programs to control expenses. For example, Erie Insurance offers a program called ERIE Rate Lock that takes the worry out of car insurance premiums going up with inflation. Instead, unless you move house, buy another car, or change drivers, you’ll pay the same amount each year, even if you have a claim.

Erie Insurance also announced immediate financial relief for automotive customers impacted by the pandemic. Other ways to save include taking advantage of credit card rewards and cash back apps, and making sure to use them. And if you’re overwhelmed with organizing things, there are free services online to track your loyalty program points, including airline miles.

• 4. Consider home concerts.

Many supplement their income without leaving the safety of their living room. In fact, nearly half of American workers have a gig outside of their main job, according to Bankrate. But before applying for a remote job, always check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure the company is legitimate. Depending on your skills, there are a variety of online jobs you could do, such as customer service, writing, or online tutoring.

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