Five tips to survive a decline in income

Since precautionary measures were heightened to slow the spread of COVID-19, almost one million Australians have lost their jobs. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia lost 7.5 per cent of its jobs between 14 March and 18 April. If you’re one of the many Australians who has lost their job, it’s understandable that you may be feeling stressed about managing your finances.

 

Put together a new budget

The first thing you need to do if your income has fallen is put together a new budget. With a reduction in your income, you’ll likely be looking to reduce your fixed and discretionary expenses. Put together a budget that includes your essential expenses such as your mortgage or rent payments, bills, and groceries. This is also a good time to assess which expenses you can do without until your income rises again.

 

Set up payment plans

Losing your source of income can be stressful, especially when you have ongoing payments to meet. If you’ve put together your new budget and you’re not sure if you’ll be able to meet your regular payments, speak to your mortgage lender and other providers about setting up a payment plan. The important thing is that you do this proactively and keep communication open as having these conversations now will put you in a much better place to negotiate.

 

See what support you may be entitled to

The government has announced a range of support packages available to people who have lost their source of income or have had their income significantly reduced. Check which support you may be eligible to receive and organise all of the details you need to apply. Full details about the Federal Government’s measures to support individuals and businesses are available on the Treasury website.

If you’ve lost your income due to illness or injury and you have income protection insurance, check what claims you are eligible to make and what payments may be available to you.

 

Identify potential savings

When you put together your new budget, you probably identified expenses you could do without such as gym memberships and other discretionary expenses. To identify further savings, check if you can switch to cheaper providers for your utilities such as electricity, gas and internet and consider winding back your mortgage payments if you have been paying extra.

 

Seek advice from financial professionals

In stressful times, it can be hard to look beyond the current period of financial stress. However, this is also an opportune time to reset your financial plan for the future. Take this opportunity to speak with your financial professionals, including your mortgage lender or broker, accountant, and a financial adviser to manage your finances now and into the future effectively.

 

Moving forward

At a stressful time for people, it’s important that you don’t feel like you need to weather financial challenges alone. Taking the time to see what support may be available through the government’s support packages is a good place to start. And to set up a financial plan for the future that also addresses your current financial challenges, make sure you speak to a qualified financial professional for tailored advice.

Kids and money – it’s never too early to start

When teaching your children to manage their money you are helping your kids grow into financially savvy adults. You might even learn something about your own money habits along the way.

Children see money nearly every day, and as they become old enough to recognise the currency value on coins and notes they’ll want to start counting – just be mindful that  small children and coins don’t mix well.

If you decide to give children pocket money or  pay them for doing age-appropriate chores, encourage saving by giving them a moneybox. Get yourself a moneybox as well and each time your child puts money away, do so yourself. It could be beneficial for you too!

As they get older, open their own bank account. Explain how interest works and talk about their savings goals. If, for example, they want to buy a new bike, discuss how much it will cost and how much they will need to save each week.

When your child is old enough, introduce them to their bank statement and point out any fees and charges. Children of all ages often assume that ATMs supply unlimited cash. When making a withdrawal, show them the receipt and explain how the balance has reduced.

The humble mobile phone can be used as a great opportunity to teach kids about meeting financial obligations. Show them how to put aside money for bills, allocating the remainder for savings and spending.

Part-time jobs are a standard way for teenagers to earn money and choosing how to spend it. A debit card on their bank account will give your kids an early introduction to how “plastic” works – particularly when it’s  cool to ‘tap and go’. Except with a debit card, when there’s no more/nothing/no funds left, there’s no more/nothing/no funds left. Resist the temptation to top up their account if it is/becomes empty.

Learning early that plastic money is not limitless can avoid a lot of grief later in life. The Reserve Bank of Australia reports that there are currently more than 16 million credit cards in use in Australia. Across those cards, there is more than $31 billion accruing interest every month! Nobody wants their child to add to those statistics.

However, not all debt is bad; few people can buy a home without a mortgage.

Your child’s first debt will likely be a car. It’s tempting to help financially but you’ll probably do them a greater service by encouraging them to borrow. Not only will they earn their own credit history, they will understand the importance of borrowing, the effects of interest and price.

If you decide to lend money to your offspring, establish a repayment schedule and be strict.

Teaching your kids good money habits early is a lasting gift. And as the line goes – if you ever think no-one cares about you, try missing a mortgage payment!

Book an appointment today and begin planning for your children’s future.