Uber Frugal Week: we will do this together

The economic impact of the coronavirus is not good. Many businesses are shuttered for the foreseeable future. Last month a record-breaking number of people filed for unemployment in the United States. We’re barreling into a recession and I don’t think it’s going to be a short one either. I won’t sugarcoat this: the economy is bad and likely to get worse as isolation slows both the spread of the virus and the economy.

With that as cheerful backdrop, I’m launching a new series titled “Uber Frugal Month, Except In One Week Because We’re In A Pandemic Headed For A Recession: Oh Crap.” Rolls right off the tongue. Just kidding, we’ll call it the Uber Frugal Week, even though it’s going to be only 6 days long. Time has lost all meaning, so I figure six-day weeks are next. The Uber Frugal Week is a condensed, pandemic/recession-focused version of my infamous Uber Frugal Month program.

The main difference is that the Uber Frugal Week dispenses with most of the psychology and background that the Uber Frugal Month addresses. The Uber Frugal Week is quick, dirty and designed with one goal in mind: to help you save more money right away and organize your finances in preparation for/response to a pandemic recession. If you have the time and would like to pursue a more holistic re-framing of your relationship with money, I encourage you to take the full 31-day Uber Frugal Month Challenge.

Help Others If You Can

Listen, I know not everyone needs to save money right now and if you’re financially able, please consider ways that you can support your community and local economy. Check out this post for ideas: How We Can Help Out During A Global Pandemic: Resources, Ideas, and Encouragement.

However, if you find yourself suddenly unemployed or at risk of losing your job, now’s the time to save like you’ve never saved before. If you don’t have an emergency fund, now’s the time to build one. If you don’t know how little you can live on every month, now’s the time to find out.

The Uber Frugal Week Is FREE

Uber Frugal Week = free

This program will be free because the last thing I want to do is charge people money during a time when they need to save money. While the Uber Frugal Month is an email program, the Uber Frugal Week will appear right here on the blog in a series of posts.

I’m rolling it out in this format because I think it’ll be easier for everyone to access and discuss in the comments section. Please share the series with friends or family members who might find them useful.

I will publish the Uber Frugal Week posts as quickly as I can, but in all honesty, I haven’t written all of them yet because pandemic means both of my kids are home all the time and my husband and I are both working from home.

Below is the table of contents as I envision it. I will link to each post as it is published. If you want to make sure you get a heads-up when each post publishes, sign-up for my email list in the box below (you’ll get an email every time a new Frugalwoods post goes live).

Uber Frugal Week Table of Contents (and yes, it’s only 6 days long… Whoops.)

Day 1: How to track your spending and establish a “time-of-crisis” savings goal.

Day 2: What to do if you’ve lost your job. How to navigate pandemic-related benefits and services, such as unemployment, health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), loan forbearance programs, what the new CARES Act and coronavirus stimulus checks mean for you, and more.

Day 3: Specific ideas on how to save more money in (almost) every category of your budget.

Day 4: Make your money work for you. We’ll discuss emergency funds, high-interest savings accounts, and using credit cards to your advantage

Day 5: How to get on the same page with your partner about your money–and fast.

Day 6: Figure out your full financial picture and set money goals. We’ll discuss pulling together information on your net income, debts, and assets.

A Disclaimer About Me

I am not a trained financial professional and I encourage people not to make serious financial decisions based solely on what one person on the internet advises. I encourage everyone to do their own research to determine the best course of action for their finances. I am not a financial advisor and I am not your financial advisor.

Send Me Your Questions

Since we’re in an ever-evolving climate of fear and uncertainty, please feel free to send me questions you’d like me to address in this series. I can’t promise I’ll cover everything, but it’s helpful for me to know what you would like to read about. I will try to update and adjust the posts as your questions and responses roll in. You can comment on this post with your questions (that’s your best bet) or email me: mrs@frugalwoods.com. Day One will publish later this week! Be on the lookout.

What topics would you like me to address in this new series?

Go here to start with Day 1 of the series

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  1. Could you address what to do with investments during this time? Also, how/what to teach teens about money right now? Thanks!

      1. Hi Mrs Frugalwoods. Thank you so much for this timely info. I invest my money with Weathsimple (roboadvisor). Can you provide some info about what to with this type of advising? Specifically should I keep investing as someone who uses a robo advisor? Thank you kindly!

  2. I’d like to address the kids at home spending. I, for instance, swore to myself that Easter would not include gifts this year because we had enough stuff. Yet, in an effort to help a small local business, I ordered a gift for each. Do they need it? No. I wanted to add something new to the mix as boredom as set in. But how do you stop the “pandemic” treats?

    1. I’ve also had this thought, but then quite a lot of what they’d normally do that is paid-for, such as extra-curriculars and so on, outings that would normally happen at least once in a while are not happening. Now clearly that’s a win for the budget, but if a modest portion of that is spent on something that contributes to them being happy for any sustained period (I’m thinking books, games, that sort of thing, whatever is relevant), then that feels like a good re-purpose of money.

      For us in South Africa, astonishingly, our government got out in front of this really quickly and we’ve been in full lockdown since 26th March, and it will run until at least 21st April. Schools were shut a week earlier than usual (we have a first term holiday that approximately coincided with this, so for some of the time they were on holiday anyway), and since then it’s been home-schooling.

      Anyway. My point is that even in a budget-conscious family, often school holidays would involve the odd outing or treat or something, so take what you would have spent and aim to spend half that amount.

    2. Pandemic treats! Love that term. We definitely got a few things when this first started – mostly craft supplies though etc. I have been guilty of some bubble guns, new outdoor chalk etc. I think initially I thought it would help fix the situation but the more I am discovering it’s all pretty much the same 🙂

  3. Eagerly looking forward to this. We are actually buying a house during all this. Fortunately, we kept our house savings in a high interest savings account, rather than investing it, because we knew we would need access to it in the short term. We close in mid-May.

    1. We are also buying a house, closing at the end of the month. We were looking before the pandemic, so it isn’t an impulse purchase (if anyone ever buys a house on impulse.) Our market here in Seattle is normally 10 offers on a house in the first 3 days level of competitive for tiny houses with no yard. So when we saw a house with an acre with a reasonable commute, we felt like we had to offer. Normally we would have been outbid in a heartbeat, but under the circumstances the seller just wanted to offload the house so we got it!

      It’s scary to outlay that kind of money right now, but my husband and I are so, so fortunate to have not lost our jobs and to have had the ability to save up for this. Frugality + high income is a winning combination. Meanwhile, we’re trying to judiciously spend on our local small businesses to help keep the community afloat.

      1. We had been looking for some time. We had actually been considering buying a multi unit place–living in one unit, renting out the other. But I’m glad we didn’t. Looking at the numbers, it woud be tough in our area to float the mortgage if the tenant couldn’t pay rent, or didn’t. We then pivoted to looking at single family homes and were surprised to find a number of nice ones at a reasonable price in an area we like. Our lease is up June 30th, so we decided to go for it.

        The seller in our circumstance also was pretty desperate to unload it and already had an offer fall through due to the buyer getting laid off. I put in an offer as did another buyer, but they went with me thinking that I was a safer bet than the other buyer to actually close the deal. I am pretty diligent, and motivated to ensure the purchase happens, so I am confident.

        I wouldn’t say we’re high income, maybe upper middle, but we have been very diligent about savings with a big thanks to this blog without a doubt. We are a one-earner household (me, with an infant and stay at home dad) and we purposely selected a home that has a mortgage payment equal to what we’re used to paying in rent. Now, instead of saving money every month for a down payment, we’ll save the same amount each month for a home maintenance and repair fund.

    2. We bought a house that needed renovations. The lockdown happened days before the final renovation that could make the house habitable (flooring installation). Weep.

      But, it could always be worse, it could always be worse.

  4. Since I was furloughed from my job, we are living on my husband’s salary only. After my gigantic hoard buy on Sunday of groceries and gardening supplies I am planning to lock things down financially, but I feel like cash flow might be tight and I am wondering if I should pause my automatic savings to avoid running my checking accounts down? Thanks to the advice here and a friend employing me for a year and a half as an extra job I didn’t plan on, I have a comfortable emergency fund.

  5. Can you provide info about how to go about job searches at this time? Especially for people who would potentially be relocating for a new position in their field?

    1. Job search info might be better directed to askamanager.com — she’s already answered a bunch of questions on that

      1. Seconding this recommendation. She has a ton of great info on all things employment-related really (Mrs. Frugalwoods I’d try to direct folks to this blog for unemployment concerns personally).

  6. I just wanted to chime in and say that a few months ago we took the plunge and switched to an MVNO. We went with Ting, based on where we live. We’ve cur our bill in half! We use our data quite a bit when we are out an about for our side hustle and can’tconnext to wifi (such as driving directions), otherwise it would be lower. I even convinced my parents to switch (they were able to get a it through another company). They’ve been happy with theirs as well.

  7. I have been working hard at reducing my debt. I am blessed to have a job that allows me to work from home during the stay at home order. We may have a future furlough or reduction in pay. How do I create a plan keep paying down my debt and increase my savings? Also, a gratitude message in each daily post would be great.

  8. Playing off of something Laura said, I think it would be useful to discuss balancing supporting local businesses during this time (which I think is crucial) with saving during a crisis – and how we find the right balance for our situation.

    1. I feel it is crucial now more than ever to help the small businesses in our Town that are still open. A wonderful, local BYOB is now only able to do take out. We seldom eat out, yet we ordered appetizer and 2 entrees one night. The Chef at this restaurant has already done 3 free online cooking classes. So much fun and a “Date” for my husband and I to watch together. Another popular local restaurant we purchased 2 desserts from. They met us at our car to pickup. A local Tea Shop that serves delicious high teas is closed. She is selling her fabulous quiches this weekend for Easter. I ordered one. My husband will lose his job. Yet we all need to help each other during these challenging times. We will get by together.

  9. Thank you for including ways that we can help our community during this time when there is so much financial uncertainty and food insecurity across the nation ❤️

  10. just this morning I was hoping for a new Frugalwoods post and as usual you do not disappoint! First, thank you for your posts; while all of us have Covid-19 on our minds, how to survive financially is a real close second, and your advice is sage and sound. Second, I’d love to know how to balance debt repayment with saving, especially as one of the extremely fortunate people who can work from home and do not appear in danger of losing my position. I know anyone who’s lost their job should focus on saving, but at least for now our income remains the same and I’ve been focused more on paying down debt than on saving (we have about $3K in savings – without the mortgage payment or credit card payments it would float us for a couple of months). And although I am extremely blessed not to need a new job now, I too would like to know options as a backup plan. (I have fortunately not needed to file for unemployment, but my personal inclination would be to search heavily for a new job, any job, rather than live on unemployment if at all possible.). This could also help our millennial son who is gainfully unemployed since graduating college (no student loans, thank God). Thank you and namaste!

  11. Thank you for creating the Uber Frugal Week for us. I’m always motivated by your posts and the communities’ experiences. I was furloughed for 60 days however we have my husband’s income so I foresee us being okay as long as his job is unaffected. I want to ensure that I hit my 401k max this year and was wondering if I can still put money into my 401k to receive my company match even though I don’t have hours over the 60 day period or do I need to wait until I return to work and increase my contribution to make up for loss time.

  12. Excited to see this series. One thing that has come up for us – continuing to pay for daycare while not utilizing the service. Our daycare is still open in MN, but we have pulled our child out for the last 3.5 weeks, and I can’t imagine him returning before sometime in May or June. Since they are still open, we need to continue to pay for our slot, and we also want to support the staff there. However, this recession is already leading to furloughs and reduced hours in my field, so I feel the need to boost our emergency fund (especially because we found out we’re pregnant with our second at the beginning of March before all this madness). Our solution (for now) has been to drop his enrollment to 2 days/week to save some money but continue to support them and hold our spot (or at least part of our slot), but I know not every daycare has that option. Anyways, sorry for the novel, but I imagine a lot of people are in similar boats of paying for daycare (or other services) that they are no longer utilizing.

    1. I second this! We’ve been in the same boat of continuing to pay for childcare to hold our slots, since the daycare center is still open, while figuring out the tricky balancing act of working from home with the kiddos. I’d love some insight on this topic, too.

    2. We are in the same situation. Our daughter’s nursery school is shut down and they are still charging since the teachers are providing at-home activities (circle time, book reading, workshops, etc.). They did offer a $100 discount, which I appreciate. We want to support the school and the teachers but it is a hard pill to swallow to pay for daycare when our daughter is home with us while we are working from home. We want to make sure she has a slot for next year, so I don’t want to make any waves and request a further discount. I really don’t anticipate the school opening anytime before June given the severity of the situation here (we are in the NYC area). Congratulations, Molly, on your pregnancy….I am pregnant too!

      1. Our daycare is closed (required by law in MA u til early May) but we are sending her to a preschool teachers house by herself or one other child 3 days a week. I’m an essential worker in healthcare. But, if it goes longer the daycare owner has said she won’t be able to pay rent on the building, a place our daughter loves. So I envision us crowdfunding to keep it open. I’m so torn about how much money is enough to save and how much to give away (I tend to not know my limits sometimes with donations but also feel we are so fortunate that’s it’s my obligation).

      2. I write this as a childless person, but have to admit that I’m stunned by what you’re saying about paying for Childcare which you can’t use. Cut it now. No matter what Trump says (and from Europe, he looks and sounds like an idiot), these lockdowns are going on for many weeks more if our governments are wise and heed expert medical advice – like end of May and into June. You,need this cash now, ideally not to spend. Please put yourself first. Harsh but necessary.

        1. It may seem like a straightforward math exercise, but high quality child care spots are hard to come by in the US, and families often have to sign up months in advance to secure one. If everyone drops their spots now and tries to sign up all at the same time, especially if multiple child care sites have gone out of business, there will be a lot of parents unable to return to work when things do settle down. It’s a much larger issue than simply the monthly outlay, so it makes complete sense that families aren’t simply eliminating this seemingly optional expense.

  13. Thank you for doing this. If you can, could you discuss how to reduce spending specifically for monthly budget items that come from a contract. For example, I don’t want to spend the $150 a month for my gym membership but to cancel would mean paying a hefty fee. But then not cancelling would mean $150/month out the door when I could use that $ to save or pay down debt. Going forward I won’t ever sign another gym membership again unless I’m completely out of debt and have a robust emergency fund. I hate to not support my local gym but at this point I need to save as much as I can. Thanks.

    1. How i do this is just calculate the fee divided by the monthly cost. That’s how many months it will take for your fee to be made up by the savings of not having a gym contract.

      So if the fee is $300 and your membership costs are $150 a month, it will take two months of cancelled payments to make up the fee.

      If you expect to not use the service for at least that many months, go ahead and cancel. Most of the time, if you want to be out of the contract long-term, paying the cancellation fee is worth it.

      1. Check, however, to see if you are being charged for this month or any that they are not open. Many gyms may not re-open so this may be a non-issue.

    2. Another option might be to call the gym and see if they would be willing to negotiate a lower amount to end the contract. Considering we are living in extraordinary times, you never know what they’ll say.

  14. Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods, thanks for the initiative ! I’m really looking forward to all of this fantastic and timely content. Funny, the first question that popped into my mind was also relation to investments.

    I know you’ve written dozens of time about grocery shopping and meals optimization, but one suggestion is : how about revisiting some basic principles and update them with the crazy times we’re living in ?

    For example: advice on hauling at least 2 weeks worth of food without crossing the line of hoarding (how many eggs are too many?), how to navigate online shopping for pantry staples (and not panic at seeing yet another “temporarily out of stock” message in your Amazon cart), tips on starting an urban garden for newbies, freezer friendly recipes, etc.

    Thanks a million, stay safe and be well !

    1. Oh yeah, this is my struggle. Also meal planning while staying flexible in case something I’d planned to buy is out of stock. Normally I’d go to as many stores as needed to get what I need at a good price, but right now I’m trying to stick to one store every couple weeks and this has been a struggle.

      1. Same here! I just placed an order for pickup and praying everything we need is in stock. I am in upstate NY, and I was pleased to see a lot more available compared to a week ago (couldn’t get chicken or ground beef then).

    2. I second this! Normally for Uber frugal times an important tip is to cook at home and use up your pantry… but right now I want to build up my pantry and buy multiples when things are available in stores since it seems unknown when they will be in stock again… I feel better having extra food in storage, but it’s killing my grocery budget of course. I wish I lived on a food producing homestead 🙁

  15. Thank you for your posts. I know the traditional rule of thumb is 3-6 months of living expenses in an EF. But is there ever a case for having more in there? We are trying to figure out if we should momentarily pause investments to bump the EF up (we have 6 months in it) because My husband and I have had massive payouts and the layoffs keep coming and job losses are a possibility. We are also concerned about this possibly turning into something like a Depression. So if you could speak to those things in your next articles, that would be great:) thanks!

    1. I’m not Mrs. FW obviously but: If layoffs seem likely in your fields, having more emergency money makes sense IMO. Up to a year would be good. It may be hard to find another job in this market so more cash on hand gives you more flexibility.

    2. We are following the advice of Ramit Sethi ( author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich) and he recommends a one year emergency fund. I figure having 6 months is great, but doubling that would allow for even great access to resources, for example we live in Washington, which was the original epicenter. We briefly considered leaving the area to a state with lesser cases, which would have been a significant expense that would not be accounted for in a normal 6 month e fund. But if we had a year, we could easily rent a place elsewhere( like an Airbnb), and still have that same security of 6 months of regular expenses.

      1. Right. I’m all about continuing to invest and dollar cost averaging and all but should I just be putting cash in the mattress? But then are we missing out on investment opportunities?

  16. We havent lost our jobs but our side hustles are majorly diminished or gone with the pandemic. But nonetheless we can still afford to pay our bills. We are wondering if we should continue to make the payment on our federal student loans which will be automatically put in deferment and have 0% interest for 6 months. Making those payments will allow us to make some headway on them by paying down the principal. But I wonder if perhaps we should pause on paying the fed student loans and instead throw that money at another, smaller debt to get the snowball moving. What do you suggest?

  17. I’m still getting paid, and trying to figure out how to balance how much to save versus how much to spend to help others. My sister in law got furloughed for 2 weeks, and it will likely be extended. I sent them a generous gift card to a local pizzeria that delivers since she hates cooking. I wish I could do more, but I feel like I should be saving as much as possible.

    1. I’m in this boat too. I want to help others and keep the local economy going but I don’t know what the future holds and am afraid to spend too much money!

  18. Continue paying off 4% car loans? We have emergency fund, and secure (hopefully!) jobs (teacher and business).

  19. Thank you! I look forward to your posts always, but especially now. Maybe talking about the future, and planning for it will lessen our hyperfocus on Covid. We are doing all we can to be safe in house, but sometimes all the coverage feels overwhelming. What I wouldn’t give right now to watch a baseball game and share a beer with our neighbors. It’s the little things I’m missing. Take care all, and I look forward to this new challenge with you!

    1. I turned off the news programmes and discussion programmes. I listen to one BBC three minute radio bulletin at 7am each day, and I am very calm as a result. It’s not ignorance, I see how serious the situation is but by not feeding the frenzy (especially when there’s nothing I can do about it on a macro scale), I’ve just focused on what I can do. I would like to suggest that you consider doing likewise. And dump social media.

  20. Maybe suggestions for a dialogue between local businesses and local customers? i hate the term “haggling”, and the idea of it, but I think what is needed is more transparency. Most transparency from businesses about their costs, more transparency from customers about their ability to pay. I know generally why organic costs more,or why a boutique on Main Street costs more than a chain store at the mall, and I might want to support local business, but also feel constrained in my decision-making by my bottom line, if my next paycheck might be my last. What are the costs that go into your product? How is it different from something cheaper online? Obviously there is a right to privacy around finances, but sharing our limitations might help us meet in the middle. Also, how can I help my local economy if I’m pretty resolved to “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without?

    1. By buying local food, I presume you are still eating. Buy half a cow, get your milk from the farmer, honey from the beekeeper, potatoes at the source. Look at bakery or mills if you bake your own. Bypassing the large supermarket is one thing you can do.

      1. My question is more over the long term during this recession . (I live in Ireland, your advice would better suit big American freezers. i’m American, btw. And there’s not a big problem buying local in supermarkets here- Irish products are well-represented.) i feel I would be more likely to patronise local shops(restaurants, services- not just food) that make an effort to demonstrate good value. But it’s hard sometimes to know when a price is good value. And that’s where transparency about costs come in- rent (maybe a business would like us to contact local representative about commercial rates?), paying workers and themselves a living wage (no comprimises here, please), supplies, shipping, storage. I don’t pretend to be an expert about those things, but I would like to make educated consumer choices. And I do have a choices- they may not be between great options but they are choices.

  21. Question – after reading Frugalwoods for the last 6 months I’ve buckled up and saved 6 months pay + built up a good nest egg of liquid cash. Is now the time to invest on that (the liquid cash) or should I hold and continue to build out a cash reserve?

  22. Hello. Love your posts and looking forward to uber-frugal week on steroids! On Day 8, would you also consider adding some thoughts on the “other” types of documents to consider having at the ready in addition to wills, such as Power of Attorney, Living Wills and other critical documents from a layman’s perspective? (I’m in Long Island, NY — and it’s scary to read the news everywhere). Thank you — and may we all get safely through this.

  23. Do you have any special advice for those of living on Social Security? Our investments are way down and we’re existing month to month on SS and one tiny pension.

  24. Safely sourcing reasonably priced essentials during a pandemic feels damn near impossible. I’d love to hear what strategies are working for people to help them keep costs of essentials down. Physically shopping multiple stores to find in-stock low priced food and personal care products is not a safe endeavor right now. And grocery stores in my area that have any delivery/pick-up options still avail are $$$.

  25. I’d like to understand more of the logic behind not increasing one’s investments while the market is down, since it seems like that would be the mathematically smart thing to do when we know the market will eventually recover. But the four FI sites whose posts I’ve read since the pandemic began (Frugalwoods, Our Next Life, MMM, Mad Fientist) are all sources I respect and they all say don’t do it. I’d love to understand why not.

      1. I think the big idea is that nobody knows how to time the market. If you’ve got money to invest, you should invest it, no matter what the market is doing at the moment. But trying to guess what the market will do in the future is futile and people who try to do it usually fail. It’s better to have a consistent, automated investment strategy and to stick with it.

  26. Thank you guys for putting this together. I’ve been wondering g about this topic and curious what you and other similarly minded people are doing with their money right now and what plans they are making to endure this financial downtown. Looking forward to the posts and discussion that follows. Thank you for being realistic, helpful, and uplifting.

  27. You could suggest tips for shopping for necessities and possible backup otions. Some ideas that come to mind:
    1.) Toilet paper. Back up options: Commercial rolls, Kleenex, napkins, rags…well you can add more ideas here.
    2.) Face masks for out in public: N95 (if you have your own in garage from sanding,etc.), surgical masks, cloth ones (many sellers on Etsy make really nice ones), bandana, make your own…
    3.) Gloves for in public (pumping gas, etc): Nitrile if you have, vinyl food handler gloves, plastic food handler gloves, your winter gloves, garden gloves…
    4.) Soaps: Buy a large bottle of Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap that you can have on hand to wash anything and anywhere….
    5.) Food substitutes….
    Well, that was a thought that came to mind. How to shop and stay alive during a pandemic.

    1. not surgical masks, these are in short supply and required by actual medical people. Please don’t buy these and if you have, donate them to a local medical centre. Please don’t buy these.

    2. PLEASE donate your N95 Masks from your garages, shops, etc. Do NOT keep these around and DON”T use them yourself. Hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers…they all need them very badly!

  28. It’s a good idea. I’m specifically curious about point #3, savings.

    Since the beginning of the Lockdown, we have decided to consume less (as it was difficult to find things in supermarkets). We started making a few adjustments here and there…and realised how many things we can optimise around the home. Even loading the dishwasher better can save money! 🙂
    So I’m looking forward to day 3 to get even more ideas…

    1. I agree, we are using a little less dishwasher soap with each load, using our coffee filters twice, I simply use a spoon to gently scoop out some of the grounds to put in trash, put filter with remaining the remaining grounds in fridge overnight, then use again the next day with fresh grounds put in over the old grounds. We notice no difference in taste. Chose to do this when sams ran out of our filters. I rounded up old shampoo samples also, had a bagful from hotels. Bought extra paper towels as we have not seen napkins for 6 weeks. Have cloth napkins also. I am sure there are hundreds of ways to cut back when needed.

  29. As a 26 year old whose (not very high paying) job is safe, with 4 months in high interest savings account, and now unemployed husband, should I continue to add to my Roth IRA? It feels hard to put in $500 at a time and then see it evaporate in a couple days. But is it worth it to put in now while the market is down, over the long term?

  30. Australia here. Just letting you know what is happening here. We have had restrictions on travel movement here for 3 weeks, 2 weeks of warning of social distancing when shopping and for over 1 week now, only allowed out for shopping, doctors, work or outdoor exercise (surfing or sunbaking is not considered exercise). No group together outside more than 2 and no visiting people. Fines of $1300 can apply. Here anyone (Aust. citizen) losing a job gets access to $1100 (A) a fortnight, businesses can be paid $1500 a fortnight to keep someone employed, all banks must look at making home loans interest only if requested. These payments are set for 6 months and then stop. Essential workers get subsidised child care and are allowed to send children to school. If not essential worker, asked to keep children home. Essential worker is anyone in a job. Our hospital system is free. Emergency & hospital workers, pension, health care card holders have exclusive access to supermarkets each morning from 7 to 8 or pensioners only can access on-line grocery shopping. For me, as self funded retiree, I am on a fixed income, so the problems of losing a job, house repayment are not a concern. The upcoming depression is a concern. Getting some necessities are not on the shelf or appear in very small amount- sugar, flour, toilet paper, tissues, hand sanitisers, canned goods. All strange as here we make sugar, flour, toilet paper but transport networks cannot keep up- we do have over 5000km from N to S. Plenty of meat and vegetables. So far 5016 people contracted the virus, 59 deaths and over 2000 recovered. Over 2/3 of cases came from passengers and then their contacts that left cruise ships. Compulsory isolation of 14 days in homes or 5* hotels before moving home. 315000 people have been tested here which is a rate of 1 in 100 people. Huge effort here in ensuring that Covid19 stays out of our indigenous communities in the rural areas as they already have some health problems ie diabetic and heart health in the over 50s. City people are still using take away food as coffee shops can only sell take away foods. Travel here between states here also require 14 days isolation, all borders are closed unless for work, doctors and food/ goods transport. We have excellent internet so can keep in contact with family via facetime/ skype. We are very lucky here, although going into winter, half the country does not get cold. Our physical isolation in the world is an advantage. Yes we will have a recession. All countries are facing this crisis in their own way but I wish everyone all the best and hope you can find comfort with your families.

  31. I use Quicken to track my personal expenses. It lets me download bank and credit card transactions, enter out of pocket expenses and categorizes them. I just got notice that Quicken will stop supporting the program. Is there another program in the market that will essentially offer the same features including creating standard and customized reports – either free or for a one time purchase price. My interest is focusing on expenses, not income or investments.

  32. For Day two, would it be helpful to break it down by country, ie you do the US but then leave fields for folk from other countries to fill in their parts? I am conscious each country has different systems. Thanks for this, I have been pandemic spending – on Term Deposits (CDs in US) and building up savings accounts so will be good to see what you and others suggest.

    1. This is a great idea!! I previously wondered if Mrs Frugalwoods might do a Frugal Around the World topic one day, and this is very much in the same vein as that, as things are different depending on your home country.

  33. I’m interested to hear your thoughts predicting the long term impact of this recession/possible depression. What can we learn from history about how to prepare? What fields of work will become more or less relevant? What are some of the financial opportunities that might open up and how could we use them to our advantage? Also want to hear other Frugalwoods community thoughts!

  34. Thanks for this Mrs Frugalwoods, what a great idea! I will be following along for sure. One thing that would be good to address (and you may already have this included in one of the topics) is how to traverse a time when you’re already living on your emergency savings (as we have been for a month or so already). There are no extra side hustles to take up and virtually no jobs to apply for (I work/ed as a freelancer in recruitment and my recruitment work is now 0!). Usually the action when you’ve lost work / income, is to find it elsewhere, but there is no where else (I’ve applied with all the essential services such as supermarkets, hospitals etc but no luck so far)! Any thoughts? How should one structure spending when doing it on emergency savings? (obviously uberfrugally….but I don’t know if I’m missing anything). Thanks for creating this space for us all to interact and feel heard and comforted at this scary time <3

    1. I’ve been very lucky recently in staying and gaining employment recently despite the current crisis. As such, l’ve been very aware of how the job market has been and is changing. I encourage you to reach ouch to any agencies providing essential services such as financial and government call centers, c most of which are done by large contractors, and where your recruitment experience is valuable, the other sector you may look into is e-learning although this is a longer process to join and she’s hired in the industry.

  35. Such a great topic. Thank you for your generosity of time and spirit in helping all of us stay afloat mentally, emotionally, and financially.

  36. This may not be quite appropriate for Uber Frugal Week, but I would like any frugal teaching ideas for my 4 year old. Thank you!

  37. This is a less serious topic but ideas for inexpensive at-home entertainment and hobbies would be great. I’m lucky enough to have my job but all my plans for the summer have gone up in smoke and I’ve realized that I have basically no hobbies that don’t require leaving the house. Plus my usual free go-tos (go hiking, or to the library for free books) are closed.

    1. Check if your library belongs to overdrive (Libby) to download ebooks. And many libraries continue to add ebooks to their online offerings while they are closed.

  38. if you are truly uncomfortable w/the idea of investing in the market but still want to add to your Roth, you can, just don’t invest it in stocks but something less risky.

  39. We were eligible to renew our mortgage but since we weren’t due until July we were going to wait. The uncertainty of the economy due to the pandemic pushed us to do it now. We’re getting a slightly lower interest rate and rolling some debt in which reduces our monthly expenses. My husband is off work but getting unemployment and as a nurse I’m working extra shifts so for now we are financially stable. Our drastically reduced spending is helping and we have managed to quickly accrue a small emergency fund for the first time.in our entire marriage (7 years). No daycare, gas to commute, eating out, extra trips to Walmart. And with the longer shipping times on Amazon we’re not even bothering to shop online. It’s a scary time for a lot of us, but seeing how little we actually need to spend has been so good for us.

  40. Thank you for adding something that I can read and possibly put to use in my life too. I have already figured out by googling what to substitute for an egg in banana bread. Vinegar and soda, who knew? Saves my precious eggs. Also I was low on cornmeal mix so I ground up grits in chopper to fine consistency and made my own mix. Also instant potted my chicken carcass to make broth for bean soup. When this is over, I feel there are things that are being considered to stimulate the country out of this and create many jobs. People may not have the job they once had but there will be jobs. Delivering for companies like amazon and sams club. Warehouse workers to fill orders, healthcare jobs, manufacturing because I believe this country will stop being so dependent on China for essential things like drugs and healthcare products, etc. as we have seen in this pandemic, they cannot be trusted. Technology jobs will increase also. I would love to see president Trump push for 2 percent, 30 year mortgages that would stimulate jobs in thousands of companies and all over the United States. I, for one, have always enjoyed take out nearly as much as dining out especially on wings, pizzas, sandwiches and we simply drink our own good beer. I think take out will become much more popular. Also this was a somber but much needed trial run to learn how to deal with a crisis in the future that may or may not be worse but would be more easily handled. Stay safe and again, thank you!

  41. My first recommendation to everyone would be to read your book, it was so well written and inspiring! I usually sell my used books but this is a keeper to be reread!

  42. Mrs. Frugalwoods, I’d like to know more about life insurance- I know that this will be a very personal topic and differs for each family, but I wanted to know what is the average… My idea of coverage seemed very low ($500K) until I found out that some coworker had four times more coverage. I don’t want to be a cheapskate but at the same time, I don’t want to end up having to sell the house if something happens to one of us…

    Truly looking forward to this Uber Frugal Week posts! I love everything that you do on your blog. Thank you for keeping us somewhat feeling sane in this crazy time period.

  43. Erin very neatly encapsulated the Australian experience, I would love to read similar posts from other countries. Social Distancing is very strongly emphasised here, 1.5 metres between trolleys in supermarket queues, smaller shops working on a one in,one out basis, larger ones limiting to 100 people at a time. 5 people TOTAL at a wedding, 10 at a funeral, no sports, entertainment etc open. Tough rules, but seems to be working better for us (so far!) than other systems. Very high test rate per capita, and free health care are also, I think, helping us a great deal. Wishing health and happiness to all of you.

    1. In Britain, no weddings, no baptisms or equivalent. Only closest family for funerals. Sadly, many people at end of life are dying alone in hospital because no visitors are allowed.

      Government scheme will pay 80% of salary to workers who are furloughed and there are schemes to give businesses a 12 month business rates holiday, and there are mortgage payment suspension provisions.

  44. Can you provide easy inexpensive meals? I remember you posted an easy formula to spend about $1.35 per meal. I have trouble being frugal at the grocery store and I know this is the perfect time to cut grocery bills. Thank you!

  45. I was permanently laid off several weeks ago. There are many of us in the same situation. The unemployment filing websites in many states are overloaded, and people are getting desperate. It would be very helpful for ideas on reducing expenses immediately. I’m OK with my bills until I get unemployment next week. I just reduced by cell phone bill by 50% with Boom Mobile.

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