HELENA — Families across Montana are having to tighten their belts right now during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although it might seem like an uphill climb, with the proper budget, getting through tough financial times can be done.
First, you’ll need to take a good, hard look at your finances.
"Once we understand how we usually spend, it’s easier for us to make tweaks to that and start planning budgets," Rocky Mountain Development Council Family Engagement and Volunteer Coordinator Signe Ask said.
"The biggest thing is, start small. So what is one thing you can change this week that can help your financial future. What is one thing you can change within the month?"
That could mean meal planning for the week. That way, you go to the store and are not as likely to impulse buy things you don’t need.
Another easy start is making coffee at home and saving that money instead of buying a few cups a week.
When it comes to online shopping, delete emails for products you don’t need right now. Or put something in your shopping cart but wait a day or two to see if it really is necessary before you click buy.
“Start small, weekly, monthly and then the bigger goal is, what do you want to accomplish in six months?" added Ask. "Write that goal down and how you are going to achieve that goal?”
Once you can consistently follow your budget and savings goals, it’s time to start an emergency fund by saving enough to cover about three months' worth of expenses. Now, if you also have found yourself trying to do a budget while unemployed, it helps to get organized and pick up the telephone.
“If you are not bringing in enough to pay your bill currently, budget everything out, write down all the bills that you have and contact the people you owe the money to," Ask said. "Contact your landlord, contact the power company and work out payments plans with them. Because a lot of people are in this situation right now. But the worst thing you can do is not pay or avoid contacting people."
Budgeting, especially right now can be tough. But being diligent and thrifty now can pay off in the long run.