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What to Do if You’re Working (or Spending Extra Time) at Home

Mar 23, 2020

What to Do if You’re Working
Recent public health concerns have encouraged people to practice social distancing, businesses to close, and companies to establish work-from-home policies with no definitive end-dates. This new reality can be stressful if you’re working your day job, caring for kids around the clock, or simply worried about what might happen tomorrow. The following tips can help you get through your day-to-day routine until life returns to normal.

When you need to shop, shop small.

Larger retail stores might run out of high-demand items that are essential, like toiletries, paper goods, and cleaning products. Some stores are shifting their business hours so they can stock up on these items during their off periods and take some extra time to clean all surfaces, making it safer for you to shop.

Something to keep in mind, though, is that these stores may be overcrowded due to the shorter hours and increased public demand. To avoid crowds, take this opportunity to support local small businesses like pharmacies and mom-and-pop corner stores in your area that are still open. Be sure to keep in mind that most small businesses have a smaller staff, so a great way to support them without overwhelming them is by buying a gift card now and waiting to use it later, once everyone is back to their normal day-to-day.

If there’s a local restaurant that you go to frequently and want to support, consider ordering takeout or delivery, if you’re comfortable with it. Many restaurants are switching to only accepting takeout or “no-contact” delivery orders, where they handle each new order with a new pair of gloves, drop the food off outside of your house, and call you to make sure you receive it. If you do order from a restaurant, try to tip extra—we should all try to support each other during this time.

Stock up only on the essentials.

Try to stock up as soon as you can, but don’t let widespread public concern stop you from purchasing your groceries strategically. Be sure to purchase nonperishable items that won’t go bad once your normal day-to-day routine picks back up. Nonperishables like pasta, rice, and soup are sometimes offered at a 10 for $10 price, and you can make many delicious, budget-friendly meals for your family with them.

Chickpeas, lentils, and black beans are also great nonperishable and affordable alternatives or supplements that can be kept in your pantry long after you’ve returned to your normal routine. You can use them as a substitute for meat or you can incorporate them into salads for added sustenance.

When it comes to fresh proteins, produce, and dairy products, don’t rush to buy more than you plan to consume in one week, that way they don’t go bad before you even have a chance to cook with them. Start small by buying one gallon of milk and one carton of eggs. Not only do eggs have enough protein to fill you and your family up for breakfast, but they’re also inexpensive. You can also purchase and freeze your family’s protein(s) of choice so that you have them if and when you need them.

Grocery stores are deemed essential businesses, so you can buy these items on an as-needed basis. But, if you want to cook healthy meals without having to go to the grocery store more than once, you can stock up on frozen veggies, which are a great, affordable alternative that will last months in the freezer. Plus, they’re ready to cook whenever you need them.

When stocking up on antibacterial cleaning products like wipes and sanitizer, or paper goods like toilet paper and paper towels, buy enough to last you at least 14 days—but don’t go overboard! Remember, other people need these supplies, too. You should also try to buy the store’s generic brand as it’s typically cheaper and will still get the job done.

And, while shopping online is typically more convenient, try to avoid it unless all stores in your area are closed or out of stock in order to avoid paying high shipping fees due to heightened demand.

Prioritize quality time with those that matter most.

Uncertainty and change can be very stressful, especially when it involves your job, finances, or your health. While it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by events out of our control, a new routine can be an unexpected opportunity to spend more time with your loved ones—even if you’re doing that virtually through FaceTime or Google Hangouts.

If you’re able to do your job from home, be sure to schedule breaks in your day to sit outside for a few minutes, call a friend, catch up on reading, or sit with a cup of coffee or tea away from your computer and social media. Taking time away from your screens and the news can go a long way in boosting your spirits during stressful times.

If you live with family or friends, spend your free time together doing what makes you happiest, whether that’s watching your favorite movie, reading a good book, or playing card or board games like Monopoly and The Game of LIFE.

If you have kids at home, especially school-aged, it can be hard to balance your priorities and theirs. Don’t feel guilty for giving your child extra screen time so you can tick things off your to-do list.

While many of us have been forced to embrace a new routine, it’s important to continue to maintain a sense of normalcy and do the things you love. Be sure to consult these tips to make sure you’re prepared today and in the weeks ahead, while prioritizing your wellbeing, enjoying your days, and most importantly, staying safe and healthy.

Erin Ellis

Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor ®
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