This time last year we all hoped 2021 was going to be a better year, instead, many people are still doing it tough. So, what can you do to ease financial pressures, or, if you are one of the fortunate people who finds them self in a good financial position, how do you make the most of these challenging times?
A budget helps you identify where your money is currently going and whether there are expenses that could be cut, to boost savings or reduce your mortgage and other debts. A budget also helps you work out how much money to put aside regularly for bigger expenses like car registrations, school fees and insurance. It doesn’t matter whether you use pen and paper, a spreadsheet or an online tool like our budget calculator, it just matters that you do it.
If your kids are usually in private school but you’ve been home schooling for a long period of time, ask the school for a discount on fees. If your car is spending a lot more time in the garage, ask your insurer for a discount on your insurance. Look over your budget to see what other expenses you are currently paying but receiving limited benefit from. It costs nothing to ask for relief, and the worst they can say is ‘no’.
If you’re stuck at home and have time to spare, use the internet to shop around for better deals on everything from groceries to utilities, phone and internet plans, free recreation facilities (for when you can get out), even Facebook groups offering free stuff in your area. Use your imagination, the possibilities are endless.
Throughout the pandemic the Government has made considerable financial support available to individuals and households, whose income has been affected. Visit Services Australia to see if you or your family members qualify for assistance.
If you are struggling to meet repayments on debts such as mortgages, personal loans, car loans and credit cards, talk to your lender, they have special arrangements for people facing financial hardship. Arrangements could include reducing interest and fees, or a deferral of payments until the crisis has passed and you’re back on your feet. You will achieve the best result if you approach the lender proactively. The worst thing you can do is fail to pay without talking to the lender, thereby defaulting on your debts, which may have a negative impact on your credit rating, potentially affecting your ability to borrow money in the future. The Australian Banking Association website has more information.
If you need help, please contact us or read our Problems with debt money guide. If your financial stress is temporary and you need short-term help, each Service has a Relief Trust Fund (RTF) that you may be able to access. Please contact the fund directly to see if you qualify for a RTF loan.
If you are in the fortunate position to be saving money during the pandemic, because there are fewer opportunities to spend, here are a few tips on making your money work harder:
If you are in need of financial education or guidance, access to free financial counselling due to financial hardship or independent personal financial advice, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have a small team with extensive knowledge and access to a large network of professional people outside of Defence who can offer assistance by way of free financial counselling (in the case of hardship), or financial advice on a fee paying basis, depending on your personal circumstances.
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