Tips To Improve Your Financial Resilience Amid Covid-19 If Your Job Is In Jeopardy And You're Not Financially Prepared

March 20, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy has many people feeling worried about their financial position, especially because so much has changed so quickly.

Some people are focused simply on survival, others are just wanting to stabilise in order to be more financially resilient to weather whatever is around the corner, and others are looking to take advantage of their opportunities.

This list of tips is aimed at those who right now are focused on survival.

That is, those who have lost jobs, are likely to, or their hours have been cut - and they're unprepared for such a financial shock. Please note this is general advice and therefore not all tips will be applicable to your unique financial situation.

Start with some sums:

You need to work out - what is the minimum amount of money you need every week to keep afloat? (already assuming no discretionary spending, which usually accounts for about 20 percent of your household budget)

Then you need to know - what savings do you have and how long will they last you based on the figure above?

If the answer is ‘not very long’ consider the following ways to reduce costs:

- Can you cut your fixed or minimum expenses back further - eg reduce food budget, keep power costs down, after the lock down consider renting out your home and living somewhere cheaper, move in with family

- Can you restructure debt to bring down the immediate cost? eg low interest/zero interest credit card transfer, consolidate short-term debt onto mortgage.

- Consider fixing floating debt to a lower interest rate, to reduce overall interest payments

- Talk to your bank to see if you can arrange a mortgage repayment holiday, or switching to interest-only payments or extending your term to bring down short-term debt costs

- If you’re in KiwiSaver and still employed - take a contributions 'holiday'

- Talk to your insurance broker - some insurers allow short-term premium holidays, but only consider if it doesn't disrupt your cove

Then we need to focus on generating cash reserves:

- Are there other ways you can sell your skills other than what you’re traditionally trained for?

- What money can you raise by selling non-essential assets?

- Work out what access you have to lines of credit – eg credit card, revolving credit, borrowing from family

- If none of the above, discuss an emergency line of credit with your bank

- Are you eligible for the Government package (and will access to that money over the next 12 weeks cover your minimum expenses?)

- Direct cash from KiwiSaver repayments holiday to savings

- Consider whether you can access your KiwiSaver under the ‘financial hardship’ category

- If considering withdrawing your KiwiSaver, you may want to shift it to more conservative settings. While this 'realises' the losses, it also allows you to be more certain about the amount of money you'll be able to withdraw. '

If you’re feeling panicked, consider talking to someone impartial – a friend, a budget adviser or a financial adviser – to help you make clear, calm decisions. Money can be emotional at the best of times, but in crisis you need to be making well-informed choices with a clear head.

Hannah McQueen is an Authorised Financial Advisor, Chartered Accountant, Personal Finance Author and the founder of enableMe - Financial Personal Trainers

Helpful links:

Click here for information on leave payments, wage subsidies and other benefits

Click here for information on tax relief, the economic response package and employer support

Click here for where to find a budget adviser near you

Or, to book a consultation with one of enableMe's Financial Personal Trainers to review your options, get tailored advice, establish a robust plan and improve your financial resilience, click here.

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