The COVID-19 outbreak hasn't just made thousands of Americans ill; it's also battered the economy to an almost unbelievable degree. Unemployment claims are through the roof, countless small businesses are shut down, and millions of Americans are stressed about the notion of losing their jobs and scrambling to pay their bills in the not-so-distant future.
It's not surprising, then, that many consumers are already altering their spending habits or switching up plans to accommodate their new reality. Here are some changes Americans are making, according to a new survey by Credit Sesame.
41% are ordering in less food
Takeout and delivery can be a source of enjoyment and comfort during a crisis, and they're also a good way to support local businesses that may be struggling for revenue. But if money is at all tight, it pays to stick to essential groceries only and avoid restaurants, which typically charge a 300% markup on the items they serve.
11% are canceling video streaming services
At a time when Americans are largely cooped up at home, retaining a low-cost streaming service is, arguably, a reasonable thing to do. But if there's a service you currently pay for that you find you don't use all that often, then you might as well cancel it and save that money.
22% have delayed a vacation
Even budget vacations can be expensive, so it's not surprising to see that a large number of Americans are hesitant to pay for them right now. Furthermore, postponing travel is a smart thing to do from a health and safety perspective just as much so as a financial one.
10% have put off buying a home
Buying a home is a huge financial undertaking, so it's not surprising to learn that many Americans don't feel ready to bear that expense right now. While it's true that mortgage rates are, at this point, fairly competitive, if you're at all worried about losing your job, you're better off waiting.
What changes will you make in light of the crisis?
There's already talk that COVID-19 will spur a full-blown recession, so if you haven't made any lifestyle changes or altered any plans to date, now's a good time to assess your budget and priorities and see if changes are in order. This holds true whether your income has taken a hit in recent weeks or not.
And if your paycheck hasn't gone down, assess your emergency savings and make sure you're doing reasonably well in that department. At a minimum, you should have enough money in the bank to cover three months of essential living expenses, like food, rent, and transportation. If you don't, it pays to make changes large and small to reach that savings level. It's too soon to tell how long the COVID-19 crisis will continue and what its economic aftermath will look like, but the changes you make today could spell the difference between getting hurt financially and coming out financially unscathed.