I have to be honest, when I sat down to write about what I have been doing while living through lockdown, I was stumped. I couldn’t think of anything that was of merit. But I guess, it doesn’t have to be a huge accomplishment at the moment, getting through this is an accomplishment for us all.
I thought about what I’ve been doing, I’ve been talking with my clients via phone or zoom, working on an assignment for university, rearranged my furniture to make a new and spacious home office in what was my never used formal dining room. It’s been a good time to do those jobs we never had time for, like going through your filing cabinet, refolding all your linen – all we have is time now. I think I need a new hobby!
Lockdown’s impact on us
Family life, social life, work life, it’s all rapidly changed – again. We swapped restaurants and café’s for zoom calls with family/friends and commuting to the office for early morning yoga (not me, but probably others), more time in bed or spent with our kids before we attempt home schooling. There’s no more going out to socialise and participate in sport, and we can’t even go to the movies like we used to.
In theory, staying home means we are not spending as much money, but with such easy access to online shopping and some essential stores remaining open, some are not seeing that much of a reduction in overall spending. The focus of our spending has changed. We have gone from eating out in restaurants and travelling abroad to experimental cooking at home, more domestic travels and small renovations to our homes and gardens.
The very nature of lockdown is unusual, and for many it’s a significant change to how we live our lives, whether you’re a social butterfly or not. As the pandemic unfolds and lockdowns continue to extend, there needs to be a focus on our physical and mental health as well as our financial health, especially if your work life has also been impacted.
Exercise is highly recommended to be undertaken every day during lockdown. It’s not only good for your physical health, but also for your mental health and is one of the allowable excuses to leave home – just be mindful of who you can exercise with. Can you do too much exercise? My dog, Tsarina, will say you can – she’s had enough of the long walks, she just sits down now when she’s had her fill.
Now your physical and mental health are in check or “under construction”, what’s next?
How do you do a financial health check in lockdown?
There’s lots that you can do which could help give you a better understanding of where you stand.
Five quick and easy things that you could try:
Go through your bank account – is there anything you don’t recognise or no longer want to subscribe to, perhaps it’s time to cancel it. While you are there, check the fees and compare your mortgage as well – this is a very big-ticket item for many family budgets.
Start a budget – it can be confronting at first to see where your money goes, but it is useful in ensuring that your income is covering your expenses. Most bank apps will do this automatically for you.
Compare your bills – there are many services who can compare your current utility bills and home/car insurances and are designed to make this easier for you. Big savings can be made.
Start saving – if you have any money spare, even just $50 per month, then it could be worth setting this aside. This can be into a mortgage offset account or into a separate savings account, try to build up a savings buffer. Begin to save for the sake of saving, without having an end goal in mind.
Talk about money – money still seems to be a taboo subject to many, but by being open about your finances you can reduce your anxiety and make managing your household budget easier. Engage with your Financial Adviser and see where you can save/make more money.
If we have learned anything from the pandemic’s effect on our lives and finances, it is to be prepared for whatever life may throw at us.
We have heard of normally healthy, vibrant people being knocked down in their tracks if they get ill. Covid is no longer an illness for the old. We are all affected by it, and we can see that it can spread rapidly.
So, what should we be doing in our newly created spare time? We can do those “another day” tasks:
- Is your Will, Power of Attorney and Enduring guardianship up to date?
- Is your superannuation beneficiary current and accurate?
- Do you have sufficient insurance for your family if something were to happen rapidly?
- Does a family member/friend know where all your documents are kept in case something is required urgently?
These all sound dull and mundane but will ensure that you do not leave a mess behind if something were to happen to you. Let people know what your intentions are.
What has lockdown taught me?
Firstly, that I need a new hobby. Secondly, with a few adjustments here and there, we can cope with most things thrown at us, even staying at home for long periods.
Finally, I have everything organised, everything done I had been putting off as too boring and I can go back out into the big, bad world knowing that if anything were to happen to me, my family will be ok financially.
Written by Sharon Goodwin
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