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How to Get Back on Your Feet Financially

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As lockdowns ease and the economy stirs, it’s time to get back on your feet financially. 2020’s rocky road of pandemic-fueled turmoil has left many Australians in damage control.

Luckily, at the time of writing, the worst appears to be over. Bolstered by a Federal Budget with ‘fast recovery’ in the crosshairs, make your future brighter.

We go over some of the best ways to save money. Here’s how to get back on your feet financially…

1: Ballpark Your Income and Expenses

It’s far easier to get on top of finances when you actually know where your money goes. Start by listing your income, then make a note of expenses.

Usually, it’s easier to keep these numbers based on a paycycle - ie: if you get paid weekly, list expenses per week. There’s no need to be accurate to the cent or even nearest dollar - a ballpark figure should suffice.

Simple Example:

Weekly Income:
$1,000

Expenses:
Rent: $350
Utilities: $55 (average Australian weekly)
Phone / Internet: $17 (average Australian weekly)
Food / Shopping: $91 (average Australian weekly)
Petrol: $40
Loan Repayments: $110
Misc: $100
Total Expenses / Week: $763

2: Trim the Fat On Your Expenses

It may take a bit of getting used to but there are numerous ways to cut down on those expenses listed above. Often, it’s simply a case of buying smart.

Some of the best ways to save money are also the easiest:

Fuel:

In Australia, petrol prices fluctuate dramatically. At the time of writing, petrol cycles are roughly 2-3 weeks. The cheapest price or low point in the cycle is around $1.05 / litre of 91 ULP - the highest is around $1.48. The average vehicle in Australia uses 1,797 litres of petrol per year.

  • Filling up at peak price: $2659.56 on fuel per year.
  • Filling up at the lowest price: $1886.85 on fuel per year.

Ballpark Savings / Year: $773 (if you can fill up at the bottom of the cycle)

Coffee:

Comparing instant coffee to a fresh brew in your favourite cafe may be a crime for coffee lovers, but, for this example:

  • Average cost per cup of instant coffee: $0.20 (depending on brand and milk added).
  • Average cost per flat white: $3.99

You drink 2 cups of instant coffee per day: $146 / year

You drink 2 flat whites per work day: $2082.78 / year (261 working days/year)

Ballpark Savings / Year: $1936.78

Power:

Electricity is another big cost and another category where you can trim the fat off your expenses. To summarise recent findings on cutting electricity costs:

  • Turn off game consoles when they’re not in use: Around $193 / year
  • Do not power a second fridge: Around $172 / year
  • Use a clothesline instead of a dryer at least once a week: Around $79 / year

3: Contact Your Lender

If you’re struggling with loan repayments, the worst thing you can do is not pay. This will likely negatively affect your credit file and credit score. Many people’s circumstances have changed in 2020 and lenders are well aware.

Some borrowers fear talking to lending institutions about their situations. There’s no need to be worried. Lenders deal with their clients changing circumstances, especially during the Covid pandemic, everyday. They’ll be able to readjust your repayments to suit your income, giving you some breathing space if you need - often with no hit to your credit file.

Keep your lender informed and aware if you’re struggling with repayments.

4: Refinance / Consolidate

Refinancing:
If you’ve been making repayments on a loan over a long period of time, you’ll likely be able to refinance. This means getting a better interest rate and even extending the loan term to reduce payment amounts.

Debt Consolidation:
Taking out another loan to off an existing loan may seem strange at first but it’s a popular choice for some people. If you’re paying off numerous loans at one time, the repayments can be a big chunk of your income. Consolidating them (paying them off) with a larger loan can drastically reduce the amount you have to pay per pay cycle. On the other hand, it can also extend the length of the loan term.

If you’re not sure how, or even if debt consolidation can help you, talk to a broker or seek professional advice.

5: Be Active

With an economy in recession and jobs hard to come by, being active is even more important. If you’re looking for work, polish up your resume and cover letter as best you can, apply for as many jobs as you can that suit you and take advantage of free training provided by the Australian Government. Even volunteering can provide job leads and make your resume look good.

To Summarise:

Despite 2020 proving itself the year of fear, uncertainty and doubt, there are a lot of steps you can take to soften the blow. Make sure to take the above into consideration and apply the ones that suit you. If and when you get some savings, know the safe practices to protect them.

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