CNN Portugal spoke to an economist to see if the country should brace for a recession and put together some savings tips that could help mitigate the effects of a possible protracted economic crisis.
With a war in Ukraine with no end in sight, the times ahead will be challenging. Inflation continues to rise, while fuel, housing and raw materials lag behind. More and more important, though more difficult, is conservation.
Is a recession coming? According to Ricardo Ferras, professor of economics at the University of Lusofon and ISEG researcher, it is too early to talk about this scenario. “We know that the most recent forecasts from international organizations point to a slowdown in the Portuguese economy over the next few quarters. But, at least for now, they don’t see the country going into recession.”
“However, there is a huge unpredictability in the world, so any macroeconomic scenario has a high degree of uncertainty. and investments,” he added.
According to the economist, “a protracted economic downturn will certainly be synonymous with deep destruction of wealth. If household consumption and corporate investment collapse, there will be bankruptcies and layoffs.”
Since the beginning of the year, everything has risen in price and revenues do not keep up with this growth. According to a report by Ricardo Ferras, “Food and drink rose 7.6%” and combined “housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuel prices rose 7.7%.” Only fuel increased by “an astronomical 20%”. And all this within five months.
To try and alleviate these difficult times ahead, CNN Portugal also spoke to Natalia Nunez of Deco’s financial protection team. Despite the difficulties, there are exercises that can be done daily and that can save tens of euros at the end of the month.
From housing, fuel and grocery shopping, here are some of the specialist’s recommendations.
Public transport or own car?
- follow public transport user, the main advice is to find the pass that best suits your needs if you are not a Unified Social Pass user. “Sometimes there are municipalities that do some kind of discount for people over 65 or for young people, and people don’t know about it,” recalls Deko;
- If you live relatively close to work, you can always choose to walk or bike;
- If you really need to use own car, since there is no public transportation that gives the answer, decide to share the car with other people, whether they are colleagues or friends who work in the same place or in the same area. So you can split the cost of fuel or tolls;
- Before fill the car, always try to compare prices at different gas stations and choose the one that offers the most affordable prices. O website of the Directorate General of Energy and Prices can help you in this search;
- Avoid using the car for short distances that can be covered on foot;
- try to have one economical driving: Avoid aggressive driving, try to maintain a constant speed and do not always accelerate and brake. Keep engine RPM as low as possible by using higher gears to keep RPM low.
Prepare for a trip to the supermarket
According to Natalia Nunez, it is “important for families to know how much they spend on food every month” in order to be able to set savings goals. After this analysis, here are the most practical tips:
- Make a list before you go shopping. And maybe it’s not a good idea to do it in your head. It’s best to look in your pantry and write down what you really need so you don’t buy items that you end up having to spend or use;
- Make a meal plan it can also help to create an even more stringent shopping list because you end up only buying what you know you’re going to eat;
- Set a budget. Do not shop without setting a limit on the amount you are willing or able to spend. According to Natalia Nunez, “it’s important to shop for a while” in order to “be able to see and compare all the prices.” Don’t forget that the cheapest prices are not always at eye level on the shelves, they can be higher or lower;
- Don’t be tempted by promotions. It is important to have an idea of the original price of the non-promotion product in order to know if advertising is really paying off, even if they are promotions packages;
- Still in the field of promotions you should be aware of product expiration. This is because it may be useful to take, for example, two detergents, but this does not apply to yogurts. If the deadline is too short, “we run the risk of spending the money”;
- Don’t go to the supermarket hungry. This is one of the factors that tends to induce the consumer to buy more than he really needs.
Try to cook as much food as possible at home, trying to avoid food waste.
Is it time to reevaluate your mortgage?
Natalia Nunez reminds us that the most important thing in this area is “to look at the level of our efforts”. providing home loan should not exceed 35% of net profit. “This is the golden rule,” he explains.
If your mortgage payment is about 45% of your monthly net income, you should try to understand if your conditions match those of the market. If this is not the case, you should call the institution where you have a mortgage and try to renegotiate the terms.
You should also check if the spread matches the values that are practiced in the market. As? Running some simulations on banks websites or on Banco de Portugal banking customer portal. These simulators can be used by anyone and are a “good source of condition checking”.
You should also check the amount of insurance associated with your home loan. When applying for a mortgage loan, an agreement is also concluded with an insurance company and, as a rule, people forget to check whether these values are still being adjusted. The rule is the same as for the spread, simulate or contact insurance intermediaries.
What charges do you pay to the bank?
If you have a single bank account that always has a cost associated with it, namely maintenance costs, consider requesting that this account be converted to a minimum banking account. According to Decaux, this is a way to “reduce costs”;
You may have already wondered if it makes sense to have a savings account. Natalia Nunez believes that she does this only if “it’s not very expensive.” To do this, “we need to seek and negotiate.” However, a savings account remains the most efficient way to save some money.
If you do not have a savings account, you should not do two things: keep the accumulated money in a checking account, that is, in the account that you use every day; or even keep money in an envelope at home.