For most people, the whole world turned upside down when the pandemic came out of nowhere. Restaurants, malls and other nonessential business hang the closed sign, transportation came to a halt, and we are experiencing record high unemployment rates.

Even if you’re not missing paychecks, it is always necessary to re-evaluate your budget and look for ways to free up some extra cash. Frugal living is currently gaining a momentum with young and old alike as people find more ways to stretch their hard-earned peso.

Being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap. It just means being smart with your money and understanding its value. Here are simple ways you can do right now to save up and gear up if it gets even bumpier in these uncertain times:

Start with knowing how much you have

First things first, do a thorough sweep of your bank accounts so you know how liquid you are, and how deep your pockets can get. With this pandemic continuing to wreak havoc on a global scale, it is best to have a lot of on-hand cash for “just in case” scenarios.

If you haven’t started already, now is the time to create a budget file. It may not sound fun for some, but it will go a long way in making sure you are aware of all the ins and outs of your budget, and will help you map out a good financial plan.

Spend smart ASAP

As industries continue to feel the impact of the pandemic, and world economies fall into recession, the slowdown may take its toll on our budgets soon so it’s best to be prepared.

Aside from housing, food may be your family’s biggest expense. That is why you need to make every grocery run count. There’s no need to spend more on food supplies now – we are certainly not eating more, and our food consumption remains the same. Before heading out, make sure to make a list and keep it simple. Check the cupboard what stocks are running low and what can hold for another one to two weeks. Have the determination to stick to the list no matter what – this will also help minimize your time at the store where the virus may hang out.

Try home cooking. The good news is that you can’t overstay and overspend money in bars, restaurants and malls right now. But if you find yourself always online and surfing those delivery apps, you might want to take two steps back and think about cooking more meals at home. It’s surprisingly fun to browse recipes online (some are restaurant top secret recipes) and review the ratings given by the users. After whipping up a good meal from scratch, you may find that you have some kitchen prowess after all, and you can build on that skill.

Shop online – and use those free coupons! Zero in on what you need to buy specifically without the need for go shopping aisle-hopping. It’s all about conscious consumption or thoughtful shopping. Whatever the term may be, when you understand that emotional spending/ retail therapy will only improve your mood for a little while, you will think more about what purchases really matter.

Cancel subscriptions you don’t need. Whether it be for streaming services, online magazines or even cloud storage, eliminating these expenses may free up some much-need cash at the moment. You don’t need three different video streaming platforms for sure, or go pro on all those online editing apps. While you don’t have to scratch them all, taking a moment to prioritize what you need at this time will go a long way in saving up a few bucks.

Pay your bills on time. Avoid late fees (they can really add up) and possibly grab a discount when you pay your bills on time or even earlier than scheduled. It’s also one way to make your credit record sparkling clean – and this will be a good thing later on in case you do file for a bank loan.

Stash those extra cash

Put on park whatever cash you’ll be able to free up for now. It’s not the time to go all-out on the monthly sales happening online or give in to the quick money making schemes your friends keep telling you about. Delay what can be delayed and focus on the essentials. When things start easing up again and you’re in a more comfortable state, you would be surprised to find out how you survived Covid, and how much more you have post-pandemic.