Stay on track with our 10-step COVID-19 financial checklist

Now more than ever, you may be feeling uncertain about the future and your financial health. It’s totally normal to feel that way in times of crisis but there are a few steps you can take to help avoid a sense of panic and feel in more control of your finances.

We have put together a financial checklist to help you focus and gain control of your finances. Read on to learn a few simple actions you can take that can help you ease any financial uncertainty.

Take a few simple actions to help you ease any financial uncertainty

Your home loan is likely to be your most significant financial commitment. For this reason, it’s extremely important that you’re not paying more for it than you have to. We are currently seeing some of the most competitive home loan interest rates across both variable and fixed rate home loan products, which means it’s a good time to check in with your broker to see if you’re getting a competitive deal. If you haven’t refinanced your loan for 24 months or more, chances are you are not on the best deal.

If you have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and you are struggling to make your home loan repayments it is extremely important that you speak to your mortgage broker or your lender as soon as possible. Lenders have announced financial relief packages for customers who find themselves in this situation. The options available to you will vary depending on your lender and financial situation so it’s important that you seek guidance as soon as possible. Mortgage Choice brokers are available to meet you by telephone, Zoom or Google Hangout to discuss your situation and help you understand the options available.

The sad reality is that many Australians are now having to make ends meet with little to no income. If you are fortunate enough to remain employed during this time, it’s important that you take steps to build a savings buffer to protect yourself in the event that your situation changes, be it reduced hours, reduced pay or a period without work altogether.

It’s not uncommon to feel anxious in times of uncertainty but one way you can try to find focus is by taking stock of your finances. Sit down and review your expenses to ensure that you are only spending on essentials. Go through your transaction and credit card account and look for opportunities where you might be able to cut back your spending.

Now that you are likely to be spending more time at home, you will be able to redirect some of your money. You may be immediately able to cut back on transport costs to and from work, gym memberships or personal training, entertainment, dining out and more. Are there any memberships or subscriptions that you won’t be using for the foreseeable future that you can afford to cancel?

Isolation means that many of us will be spending more time online. Given many brands have closed their stores Brands are looking to capitalise on this, which means you might have noticed an influx of bargains flooding your inbox and social media. If you’re trying to stick to a budget, it’s time to hit unsubscribe!

Health insurance premiums were set to rise, however private health funds have postponed the April 1 premium increase for at least six months as part of a package of support measures to relieve pressure during the pandemic. Contact your health fund to learn if you have been affected, or take this time to confirm you have the right level of cover or shop around for a better deal if you feel you’re paying too much.  Recently introduced reforms mean that hospital cover is now displayed in 4 easy to understand tiers there is no better time to compare your options.

Now that you are home using your phone and internet more often, it’s important that your phone and internet plans allow for increased usage. Check your internet data allowance with your provider and if necessary switch your plan or provider to avoid a shock at the end of the month.

Is it time to break up with your personal trainer? Or move to an online bootcamp instead of 1:1? Some gyms are offering a membership payment freeze while others are offering online classes. If you are looking to cut back on this expense, there are countless workout videos on YouTube.

Ask yourself, are there any services you can pay for annually that perhaps you could pay monthly? This could increase your cash flow in the short term. For example, your home and contents insurance, school fees etc. When considering this check which providers don’t charge any additional to pay by the month.

Now is not the time to panic and cancel insurance premiums as they protect you if the worst were to happen. Your insurance provider may be offering a premium holiday or deferment so it’s worth speaking to your financial adviser or insurance provider to learn what your options are.

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Note: Information is accurate as at 2 April 2020