Top 10 Ways to Make and Save Money During an Economic Downturn like COVID

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Top 10 Ways to Make and Save Money During an Economic Downturn like COVID

There are moments in history where one is suddenly faced with an unprecedented change. While many thought this generation would go unscathed, suddenly we found ourselves amidst a pandemic that the world hasn't seen for almost 100 years.

As I write this, small businesses are closing their doors for the last time, people are being laid off or let go altogether; businesses are frantically trying to find normalcy amidst having all of their workers suddenly working from home.


1/ Drop or reduce your car insurance:

First off - just by not going out to work is saving money. That extra mileage on your car and transit is already saving you a few hundred dollars over the course of the year. That said, if you're in a two-car household, there's likely no reason why you both need to be driving your cars at the moment. People who take their cars off the road and put into storage, can pay as little as $10/month. Decide what car will be used over the course of this COVID lockdown and call your insurance company immediately.


According to CNET:

When an auto insurance company calculates your premium, one of the factors it considers is how much you'll be driving the car. This is why the company may ask how long your commute is. The longer the commute, the higher the risk of the accident -- and thus the higher your premium. If you're working from home, there isn't a commute. 

"When the car isn't being driven, there's hardly any risk," said Dan Karr, insurance industry watchdog and CEO and founder of ValChoice. "For insurance companies, the cost to insure goes down dramatically. There's no good reason for insurance companies to be collecting and keeping this money when the risk is reduced."


2/ Use electricity when price is lower

The price of electricity is lower at night, on the weekends and on statutory holidays, when the overall demand in Ontario is lowest. However, during COVID, here's what the Ontario government has announced:

For a 45-day period, the government is working to suspend time-of-use electricity rates, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour. This reduced price will be available 24 hours per day, seven days a week to all time-of-use customers, who make up the majority of electricity consumers in the province. By switching to a fixed off-peak rate, time-of-use customers will see rate reductions of over 50 per cent compared to on-peak rates.


3/ Change your storage option

Many people cringe when they're reminded about how much they're spending each year on storage costs. Indeed, one in twenty Canadians and one in ten Americans use self storage. The money you're wasting on this is mind boggling. In the city of Toronto, a 100 square foot space costs $400/month or over $5,000 a year, not including additional storage insurance and increases in fees. That's a HUGE waste of cash. 

Travel Photo by Mohamed Ajufaan on Unsplash

If you need to store, consider storing with a neighbour instead. Since trips to your self-storage facility are often quiet with nobody else in the area, why not start going through your belongings and decide what to keep and what to donate. In downtown neighbourhoods, you can save over 75% on your storage costs, have a space far closer to your home and be able to help out someone else financially. Imagine saving $3000 a year on storage. That's a trip to the Caribbean for two (and you WILL travel again - we promise!).


NOTE: Donation centres are not taking donations during COVID so please do not drop off items right now.


4/ Cancel unnecessary memberships

Sadly, many people will no longer be able to benefit from attending a gym or other social gathering location. While the physical distancing initiatives are in place, it's now time to put all those memberships on hold. While this doesn't affect the larger organizations as much, many smaller boutique gyms will likely go out of business. If you love your facility, consider joining their weekly live workouts.  While the larger franchises are charging as much as $55/week, other great places are charging $15/week and sometimes it's pay-what-you-can. It's a great way to stay in shape while we're all housebound, but also connects you to the community you know and love.


5/ Cancel any extra phones in the family (ie. your kids!)

Many people have now signed their children up to use a phone, mainly so they can stay in touch when they're out of the house. Now is the time to contact your phone provider to get that put on pause. It could save as much as $50/child/month and a necessary saving while you're scrambling to be their new teacher. Of course, internet at home is always a must, especially now.


6/ Learn how to cook and bake...better

Most people have never baked bread, but this one Mommy Blogger has started a whole new passion and business, educating families on the best recipes to use. 

Photo courtesy of Mommy Gearest


The baked goods and homemade foods will not only save you a LOT of money over the course of a year, you will finally get to have food that no longer is laced with preservatives. The taste is far superior to what you find in your supermarket and it's about as easy as you can imagine - especially the bagel recipe above.


7/ Find out about payment deferrals and reductions

Across North America, banks/mortgage institutions, utility companies and government entities are working on how to mitigate the risks but also ensure you're not defaulting on your payment. From loan payments to credit card debt to mortgage relief, there seems to be a multitude of options. If you require a deferral, be sure to check that there isn't any penalty for not paying for that month. For instance, some financial companies allow you to defer a month, but the full amount is due further down the road - decide if that's the best way for you and your family to proceed. If the interest rates are low, might be worth doing. Either way, don't go into more debt if you can help it. 

Check out the list of participating Canadian banks

Check out the list of participating US banks


8/ Invest NOW

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing a lot of economic uncertainty to people around the world, now is a good time to invest some of that cash that might have been sitting on the sidelines. For all the downturn, there's a lot of upside if you look for opportunities. According to Global NewsBen Osmond, a financial adviser and executive consultant for the IG Wealth Management firm in Lethbridge, says the stock market may be a good place to start. “For years, we’ve been prepping clients for something like this,” he says. “We’ve been holding more cash than usual, holding more fixed income-investments.”


At this stage, the best strategy is to stagger your payments on the way down; 10% each week for a series of weeks. Also be sure to research those companies or rely on a reputable investment advisor. Ask around to your most successful friends on who they use when it comes to making investments or take a course on investing yourself. or learning about couch potato investing. Here's a link to the rating system that offers a good analysis of the course: 


9/ Shop used, buy less and donate or sell more

Facebook marketplaceKijijiCraigslistVaragesaleLetGo and more. With the multitude of options available, there's simply no need to buy items that could be second hand. Consider the old furniture that gets a complete refresh with paint, covers or just a good clean. 


This hutch cost $40 at a local Value Village. With a paint makeover, the piece could be sold now for over $400.


10/ "Sell" Space

While you're in the Spring-cleaning mode, why not empty out a space and offer it for rental? Here are the most sought-after spaces needed:

  • ·       Garage space - often resembles a self-storage building but can net you at least $400/month for a double-car garage. This will also save someone about the same, as self-storage spaces are usually $800-$1000/month for the same size. Regular access to the space for the Renter is also a great way to increase your monthly price.

    ·       Driveway - if you have an extra parking spot on your driveway, you should definitely consider renting it out. Costs range from $60-250/month depending on your proximity to city centres, transit and nearby monthly corporate lots.

    ·       Shed - if your shed is empty, chances are a nearby neighbour could use it for their winter tires, bicycle/motorcycle or general items that can be stored outdoors. 

    ·       Basement - now that COVID is an ongoing concern, people are considering more and more about renting their space for storage instead of as an apartment. Earning $1/square ft/month can net you as high as $1,000/month for someone to use your space to store their stuff. If you have different rooms that lock, breaking up the space for several individuals will also allow them some privacy and you more money. Just decide on your comfort for access (ie. 24/7 access; call to visit or 1x/month or year) and set it up on a space-sharing site. Be sure they offer protections when sharing space - insurance and liability come into play and a generic site where people sell items and rent space don't give you the same type of assurances when it comes to payments and users.

 Where ever in the world you're at, stay safe, stay home and take advantage if possible of this time at home. There are so many ways you're already saving money but there are still so many ways we, as a society, waste money. The more you consider now, the more you can save up down the road, or at least keep your debts lower. We're all in this together.



Lead photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash