15 Money-Saving Hacks for When You're Stuck at Home

Women arranging stuff in new apartment


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Women arranging stuff in new apartment

Home Banking

Many people have felt the financial effects of the coronavirus directly — whether they have been laid off, had wages reduced, or just had their monthly bills increased from sheltering in place. This unprecedented era has brought hardships to families across the country, but it is also giving many a chance to refocus how they live their lives and what they spend money on. Whether you are being forced to find cheaper alternatives or have just been given more time to reconsider your expenses, here are some ways everyone can save money now.

Make Money by Emptying Out Your Closet
Adrian Copos/istockphoto

Go Through Items Already in Your Home

The average U.S. home has 300,000 things, according to a Los Angeles Times report. That's a lot of stuff. But more importantly, do you know what you have? Do you use it regularly? Or are you buying duplicates of items because you can't find what you were looking for under all your clutter? Take time to go through the items in your home.

Related: 16 Ways to Live Like a Minimalist

Small Businesses You Can Start With Less Than $1,000

Sell Items You Are Not Using (at a Safe Distance)

With so many items in our homes, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. If you can "get your clutter under control, your attitude and health just may improve too," WebMD says. While you probably don't want to host a whole garage sale right now, there are plenty of ways to sell stuff, and maybe even make more money: For clothes in good condition, check out Poshmark, which gives you a portion of a sale after you ship it; for household goods, check out Mercari, which takes a percentage of sales but shows how much you'll make as soon as you list an item; for larger items you don't want to ship, try Facebook Marketplace. To make this a contactless transaction, have the buyer send you money with an app such as Venmo, and leave the item out in your driveway or on your porch for pickup.

Related: 20 Ways to Sell Your Clutter Quickly (and Safely) Online

Sort Like Toys Together

Sell Items Your Children Don't Use

The average American child gets in excess of $6,500 worth of toys in their lifetime, according to SWNS digital. But a recent study on infant behavior development actually found that fewer toys were better, fostering a more creative and focused environment for toddlers. That means the average U.S. household has more toys than is actually healthy for a child. With more time interacting with children at home, parents can use this time to see which toys they actually use and which can be sold, gifted, or donated to others.

Related: 50 Toy Fads That Drove Us Crazy!

Build a Fort

Shop Your House First

Now that you have a more manageable amount of stuff, be sure to "shop" your own home before going out to buy anything. This may mean repurposing an old tool, upcycling old clothing into something new to wear, or turning cardboard boxes into a fort with your child. Use your imagination and those single-purpose gadgets may just prove more useful than you initially thought.

Make a Monthly Budget

Analyze Your Monthly Budget

Do you even know all the monthly subscriptions you auto-pay? Go through your credit card and debit card statements to ensure you know what each expense is, that the price you are paying is what you should be paying, and that there are no hidden or forgotten charges you meant to take care of but never did. This is a great time to be critical about monthly expenditures. "If you have a pricey cable TV package, can you save money by cutting out the premium movie channels? If you have a lawn service that's still in operation, cancel the service and mow the lawn yourself," says Timothy Wiedman, retired associate professor of management and human resources at Doane University. "If you pay a monthly fee to an expensive health club, cancel your membership ASAP. They're likely closed right now anyway."

Related: 21 Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Bills When Money Is Tight

Leave a Car in the Driveway

Save Money on What's Suddenly Going Unused

Most likely your car expenses are down drastically, considering less driving, reduced gas prices, and insurance companies giving back a portion of payments. Are there other ways you're suddenly saving? It's important to not think of this as "free money" you can go spend. If you've seen a reduction in pay or have been laid off entirely during this economic downturn, you can use these monthly savings to help out elsewhere in your budget.

Distinguish Dementia From Age-Related Memory Loss

Limit the Amount of Advertisements You're Exposed to

We see as many as 5,000 ads a day, according to the University of Southern California, and the websites we visit are peppered with ads curated to our interests. While this is great for catching the eye, it can be costly for the wallet. Make it a habit to clear your browsing history and cache regularly. This will reset your targeted ads, and the less you see that enticing cookware set, the less likely you are to buy it.

Related: 18 Ways Companies Use Your Data (Without Your Knowledge)

Shop with a Grocery List

Be Critical With Food Purchases

Grocery stores are one of the only places we get to visit in a lockdown. Whether you shop while hungry, are subconsciously stockpiling, or just finding comfort in food, it's easy to go overboard with what you put in the shopping cart. An easy way to know exactly what you're buying and how much you're spending is using a shopping service. Some grocery stores have their own version, or partner with a service such as Instacart. Pricing policy is up to the retailer (as in "everyday store prices," "higher than in-store prices," or "view pricing policy"). But if it's hard for you to stick to a grocery list — and it doesn't cost more than you save using it — a service such as Instacart can help.

Related: Online Grocery Delivery Comparison: Is One of These Services Right for You?


Invest in a Bidet

We learned a lesson at the start of the coronavirus lockdown: When America panics, toilet paper becomes a rare commodity. Many stores have the precious paper on shelves again, but there's no guarantee it will be there when the next crisis hits, whether it be a second wave of coronavirus or something else. Bidets use less water than it makes to create a single roll of toilet paper, and consumers will see a savings on their grocery bill. But did you know there are different types of bidets? We have a rundown of which bidets are best.

Window Herb Garden
CBCK-Christine / istockphoto

Start a Garden

The initial cost to start a garden may seem daunting — from the cost of seeds, to soil, to any structures you'll need to build, or tools you'll need to buy. But a home vegetable garden might give you $677 worth of fruits and vegetables in a year, Investopedia says. Therefore, even if you spend around $300 to get your garden started, you'll still save in the long run. Plus, there is the benefit of knowing exactly what chemicals are used on your food.

Related: 22 Tips to Keep Gardening Dirt Cheap

Use Power Strips
Elena Elisseeva/shutterstock

Assess Your Home Energy Use

Most families probably saw a spike in energy use when stay-at-home orders were put in place. That shows it's time to shift your behavior and make your home smarter. "Some electronic devices that are off but remain plugged in to a power source will continue to draw electricity — these devices are called 'energy vampires.' Devices like cable boxes/DVRs and game consoles, microwaves, coffee makers, space heaters, phone chargers, and powered toothbrushes can account for 20% of your monthly electricity bill," says Alexandra Pony from Pony Communications. Use smart plugs or smart power strips that detect when you're no longer using a device and turns off its power supply, saving an average $432 annually.

Related: 25 Energy-Saving Products You Need in Your Home

Small Business Stock Awareness

Diversify or Start Investing

Now is a great time to start investing for the long term. If you're just exploring the stock market for the first time, author and public speaker Phil Barth advises you to research companies with an eye toward which will be hurt long term by the coronavirus pandemic and which will thrive. It's easiest to pick businesses you're familiar with from your own life. And make sure to buy during a dip — it gives you that extra good feeling of seemingly getting something on sale — even if you are in it for the long haul. Most importantly, don't follow stock prices every day; it'll drive you crazy for no reason.

Related: 15 Industries That Would Benefit From a Recession

Health Insurance

Shop for New Insurance

Now is a great time to review insurance policies, says Ryan Moore of Balanced Living. Compare companies, bring figures back to your current provider and see if it'll match. If not, at least you know there is a cheaper option. It's also a good idea to look at how much coverage you pay for. Policies often include a lot more coverage than is needed, or simply does not apply.

Related: 12 Tips to Keep You from Buying Too Much Insurance

Old-School Crafts

Monetize Your Hobbies

Are you a crafty person? Do you enjoy lawn care? Think about the things you enjoy on a daily basis and figure out a way to make money off them. Creating a side hustle can help to bridge financial gaps. Design your own Etsy shop to sell handmade items, help members of your community get into shape with yoga lessons — thanks to the internet, there are many ways to monetize hobbies and get your brand out there. 

Have a Family Game Night

Be Creative With Entertainment

You don't have to spend money to have fun. Go outside and take a walk, come up with a game from items you already own — one of the most innovative ideas I've seen came from a family in which each member made up a ridiculous PowerPoint deck and another member had to get up and present it. There were lots of laughs, and no money was spent.

Related: 30 Classic Backyard Games Due for a Comeback This Summer