The coronavirus is rapidly shifting daily routines for millions of Americans, who are looking for ways to stay busy at home.
Many of these folks have been laid off or furloughed. If a job loss or pay cut has you worried about paying the bills, you’re probably looking to cut corners.
While high-priced hand sanitizer and toilet paper have been making national headlines recently, some things have actually become cheaper due to the coronavirus.
From home workouts to food delivery and car insurance, following is an array of things you can get for free or on the cheap right now.
1. Virtual entertainment
People are hitting the internet in droves to socialize and peek at the outside world as they hunker down at home. Aside from your friend’s virtual happy hour, there are dozens of free activities online right now.
Stores may be temporarily closed to customers, but a lot of them are still operating online. Several — including REI, Sephora, Staples and Walgreens — are even offering free shipping on orders with no minimum purchase for a limited time.
You may even find free prescription delivery, although you’ll have to check for eligibility requirements to see if you qualify.
3. Required minimum distributions
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act waived required minimum distributions (RMDs) for the 2020 tax year. That means folks who normally would have to take an RMD for 2020 aren’t required to withdraw money from their retirement accounts this year.
If you choose to skip your RMD for 2020, your taxable income likely will be lower this year. That means you are likely to see some tax savings when you file your return in 2021.
Orders to “stay at home” have caused a dramatic drop in driving for millions of Americans. Following suit, demand for gasoline is at its lowest point since 1968, and the national average price of a gallon of gasoline had plummeted to $1.86 as of April 13, AAA reports.
5. Car insurance
Car insurers are noting the shift in driving habits, too. Some, including GEICO and Allstate, are providing discounts or reimbursing policyholders for a limited time during the coronavirus outbreak.
6. Home workouts with personal trainers
Your local gym may have temporarily closed, but you can still get your sweat on — at home — using a mobile device. Many gym chains are offering online classes, so check your gym’s website or social media pages.
If you want to try something new during the pandemic, Blink Fitness and Planet Fitness are each hosting free home workouts on Facebook Live. Orangetheory Fitness is posting workouts to its YouTube channel. Life Time Fitness is hosting at-home workouts at its YouTube channel as well.
The coronavirus’ impact on the economy has been reflected in several major U.S. stock indices over recent weeks.
In early April, the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq composite were all markedly down from their respective February highs. Although some losses have been recovered, stocks generally remain a lot cheaper than they were in late February.
8. Restaurant food delivery
Bars and restaurants are temporarily closing across the country to limit social gatherings. But that doesn’t mean every meal has to be home-cooked.
Some restaurants are offering takeout and free delivery, while others are partnering with services such as Grubhub and Postmates, which are offering free delivery or free trials.
The Federal Reserve’s two rate cuts in March are expected to have a domino effect on multiple types of consumer interest rates, ultimately making it cheaper to borrow money. APRs on credit cards and mortgages, for example, are now lower than they were one year earlier.
Global travel restrictions and domestic stay-at-home orders aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus have disrupted all forms of travel. As a result, the price tag on airfare has plummeted. For example, U.S. airfares dropped an average of 14% in the first week of March, while the price on some routes dropped as much as 70%, according to a CNBC report.
11. Federal student loan payments
Under the CARES Act, borrowers with federally owned student loans get a temporary break on loan payments of principal and interest from now until Sept. 30 — penalty-free. The payment suspension is automatic, so you won’t need to submit a request if you choose not to make payments during this time frame.
Private student loans don’t qualify for this benefit, but you can contact your loan servicer about hardship options.
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