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4 tips to better manage your finances during the coronavirus outbreak

By Jana Angeles

Have you been stood down from your current job? Did your work hours reduce or were you terminated from your position because of the coronavirus outbreak? For many Australians, worrying about their finances has become a top priority during the pandemic that we’re going through right now and it makes sense because when you think about it, our finances make up our livelihoods and dictate the way that we live

From paying the rent to making sure there is food to eat week-to-week, it’s important to have a good overview of your finances and better manage it during the coronavirus outbreak. As many of us have had to adapt to ways of staying in touch online with our friends and family, it has become apparent that some of us are struggling with the pandemic that is upon us with many losing their jobs, especially those working in the hospitality or retail industry

According to research from Monash University, the mental health effects of the coronavirus amongst Australians has risen, with more individuals experiencing anxiety and depression. As part of the study, 1200 Australians were surveyed to ask how they were coping with the pandemic and the preliminary results showed that the majority of these individuals were experiencing mild levels of anxiety and depression and about 30% of the same group had moderate to high levels. While Australians are experiencing stress, some may say this can be caused by a lack of financial stability. 

At a time where there is a lot of uncertainty, it makes sense to be practical when it comes to managing your finances. Whether you’re worried about losing a steady stream of income and unsure if the career path you’re on is sustainable for your livelihood, these tips below may help improve the way you manage your money and reduce your worries when it comes to the balancing act of paying the bills and saving income.

1. Prioritise building an emergency fund.

emergency fund money jar

In an ideal world, most individuals would have access to funds should they need it for an emergency. However, with the costs of living, it can be hard to squirrel away decent savings for something that “might” happen, so your financial goals may have altered because saving up for a house deposit is of priority right now. 

While we may be accustomed to having a separate transaction account for both saving and spending, an emergency fund can be extremely handy during a world pandemic. It’s suggested that you at least budget for three to six month worth of essential expenses as your emergency fund, more so if your income fluctuates, which may be applicable if you work as a freelancer

One of the key benefits of having an emergency fund is that you won’t have to interrupt your other financial goals such as saving up for big-ticket items like a car or a deposit for a mortgage. Since you’ll have the funds separate from these accounts, you won’t have to feel guilty about “dipping” into your savings when you need money for an unforeseeable expense or when you lose your job. 

2. See if you’re eligible for any government assistance.

If you’ve recently been made redundant or terminated from your role due to your organisation struggling to keep open for business, it’s worth doing your research and exploring your options of government assistance that you may be eligible for. For example, if you’ve been stood down from your role, you may be eligible for the JobKeeper allowance where your employer, if eligible, pays you a minimum of $1500 per fortnight as a supplement for your income. 

There are also other financial schemes like Rent Assistance and JobSeeker that you can take advantage of as well. Due to the coronavirus, the waiting periods for these have been waived and you can easily apply for government assistance through the MyGov online portal. Please note that due to the high demand of these payments, the approval of these may take longer than usual.

Also, if you’re keen to upskill but need some financial assistance from the government, depending on where you live and your eligibility, you could have access to funding when you choose to study a course with Upskilled. Majority of the government funding options available through Upskilled can help support people who are currently looking for employment or individuals who want to develop their current skillset to expand their career opportunities. These schemes can be helpful to have access to, especially if you’re looking to better manage your finances during the coronavirus outbreak. 

3. Minimise discretionary spending.

person working from home and eating takeaway salad

Working from home has its advantages and if you’re not a frontline worker, you may miss the option of having the option to buy lunch when at the office, so you may have turned to food delivery services like Uber Eats, Deliveroo or Menulog. However, now is not the time to adopt reckless spending habits, especially with the majority of us hopping online to do work from home. It can be tempting to ramp up your spending on discretionary spending because you have extra income at hand due to saving costs on commuting.

While it’s okay to splurge once in a while, it’s best to put away the money you’d spend on transport or eating out to top up your emergency funds if you don’t have one. A good guideline is to slash your discretionary spending by half. For example, if you normally put aside 30% of your after-tax income to splurge on activities such as eating out or travel, reduce this by 15% so you have more allowance in hitting your saving goals much faster. It’s important to think about taking care of your future savings at the moment and to stop yourself from making impulse purchases online. 

4. Find ways to earn extra income if possible.

If you’ve been working remotely for the past month or so, you may have realised the possibilities of being able to pick up a side hustle that can help boost your income. One of the advantages of working from home is saving time on commuting and having flexibility when it comes to your work hours. 

If your usual side-gigs like Uber or Ola have dwindled since the coronavirus outbreak, explore other job opportunities you can do remotely alongside your full-time gig. 

Of course, if you find that you’re less than qualified to undertake jobs outside of your day job, studying an online course with Upskilled can give you the flexibility of developing your skills and knowledge in industries such as business, community services or IT, giving you a competitive edge if you were looking to pick up a side hustle to put yourself in a better financial position.

Manage your finances better with more tips on SkillsTalk

If you’re after more tips on boosting your income and want to better manage your money during a crisis like the coronavirus outbreak, be sure to follow Upskilled’s resource blog hub, SkillsTalk. You’ll find some articles on financial advice that can help you stay motivated when it comes to saving money and inspire you to find ways to earn some extra income

Otherwise, if you feel like it’s time to further develop your professional life, consider studying an online course with Upskilled and see how qualification can help you find a position that can improve your financial situation to reach your short or long-term money goals. 

This article should not be taken as expert financial advice. Please consult a financial specialist for further advice on your circumstances. 
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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.