5 simple ways to improve your personal finances in lockdown

Getting on top of your finances amid COVID-19 is a keyway to stay in control of your future and give yourself peace of mind in these uncertain economic times. Here’s our lowdown.

When it comes to uncertain times it doesn’t get much more unsure than lockdown. And while these times can be unsettling, it can also be a chance to examine your financial health. With that in mind, here are five ways to get smarter with your money right now.

Access financial support if you can

First off, while lockdown can lead to extra financial stress there is a significant amount of financial support being offered by state and federal governments.

This support differs depending on what part of Australia you’re in and is available if you meet certain eligibility requirements. But it’s not automatic, you have to apply for it.

So, whether you’re an employee, a sole trader or small business make sure you get online and find out what you can access.

Chase refunds for services you can’t use

Once you’ve looked into available support, turn your mind to small financial changes which give you a boost without sacrificing your quality of life. For instance, despite venues being shuttered due to the pandemic, you may still be paying subscriptions for things you can’t use right now like gyms, health clubs and other leisure activities.

On this front, it can pay to contact the relevant subscription services and see if you can get a payment holiday. Likewise, if you’re struggling financially it may help to reach out to banks, utility companies, insurers and your landlord to seek financial assistance or payment breaks.

Change your payday rituals

If you’re lucky enough to still have a job in the pandemic, lockdown can be a chance to examine your budget and get smarter with how you spend your money in the period ahead.

For instance, if you tend to spend lot of cash as soon as your pay hits your account take a look at your payday spending and develop better habits around payday.

In practical terms, this could mean, when your pay lands securing fixed costs like rent, mobile, internet, insurance payments and memberships and subscriptions first. Alternatively, you can consider automating deductions from your bank account to coincide with payday in order to help streamline your finances.

Start an emergency fund

Getting through lockdown with financial security is a big effort, but there’s also the future to think about. Setting up an emergency fund, in short putting funds away for a rainy day, can lead to less stress as you’ll have some money in case you’re struck by an unexpected financial event, like future loss of work due to further pandemic disruptions.

By contrast, if you already have a good amount of savings stashed away in your emergency fund, the extra hours at home in lockdown can be the perfect time to compare whether you’re getting the best interest rate on your account.

To this end, get online and shop around to see if you can get a better rate with another bank or lender. Remember to check what the interest rate is, how often it’s paid, and if the account has a bonus or honeymoon interest rate to make sure you get the best deal.

Plan for when restrictions ease

In the event you’re unable to get your old job or hours back when lockdown ends, don’t despair. Try to view this as an opportunity and as a time to get job ready. With some state governments offering fee courses to help you get started, so hop online and see what is available to you.

Remember, with a better grip on your finances you’ll be more securely placed for whatever coronavirus throws at you in weeks and months ahead. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed don’t be worried about reaching out to a financial counsellor who may be able to help.