Many of us are experiencing the effects of COVID-19 – whether it be emotional, physical or financial stress. If you haven’t been personally affected by the economic disruption, there’s a good chance that you know someone who has.
Considering the lockdowns, the uncertain economy and the subsequent impact on businesses, it’s understandable that you may be feeling stressed about your finances.
Here are five ways to help you manage financial anxiety during these testing times:
- Focus on what you can control
You can’t find a solution for everything. Some things are simply out of your control. If you dwell on the things that you can’t control, you will become frustrated, and this will inevitably increase your anxiety.
Instead, try focusing on the things that you can control. For example, consider your weekly food budget. Unless you are already on a bare-minimum food budget, look for ways to cut back. Not only will you save money, but the mere act of taking control will empower you to explore other cost saving measures.
- Pay essential bills first
If you are worried about being able to pay all your bills, prioritise your essential bills first. Sort through your bills and label them as either essential or not. This will help you in two ways, firstly:
- As a budgeting exercise, it guides you to deliberately think through what you spend your money on. You may find that some bills can be eliminated by pausing or cancelling them until times are more stable, such as a subscription TV service.
- By knowing in advance which bills you will pay first, you won’t have to scramble to decide at the last minute, again avoiding anxiety.
- Save money (if possible)
Even with low interest rates, saving still makes sense to provide you with a buffer against future uncertainty and disruption. Try to stick to a consistent savings plan. If you don’t follow a plan already, try to implement one, even if you can only save a small amount to begin with.
This act of saving will give you a sense of accomplishment that will reduce your anxiety. Then, of course having that money in case of a rainy day will also relieve some stress.
To save a certain amount from your weekly, fortnightly or monthly salary, you can set up an automatic transfer the day after you get paid, then you can set it and forget it.
Make sure you track what you’re saving by keeping a simple spreadsheet or checking your monthly bank statements, this way you can see and appreciate the progress you are making.
- Be mindful of your spending
While it may be tempting to mindlessly scroll and make emotional purchases to lift your spirits, now is a good time to be more mindful about how and when you shop. By taking stock of your current financial situation, you might even emerge from lockdown with some healthy financial habits in place.
If you are in the fortunate position of your work and finances not being impacted, consider spending on those industries most impacted by lockdown, such as hospitality. The simple act of ordering pick up or take away from your local community restaurant or café – instead of automatically turning to Uber Eats – can positively impact someone else’s business and contribute to the wider economy.
- Seek financial advice and talk to your lenders
Most financial advisors have adapted their business to serve their clients online. Consider getting help from a free counselling service.
Debt can be both a financial and mental strain. Before you let debt and the stress it causes overwhelm you, reach out and talk to your lenders. Lenders are open to discussing your situation and helping you find both short-term and longer-term solutions tailored to your needs.
If you are a Homestar customer experiencing financial hardship, please visit our COVID-19 page here.
Financial uncertainty is stressful, but by focusing on what you can control and making small improvements where you can you’ll be in a better financial position to weather the storm.
For help and health advice related to finances head to – https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/financial-stress
This article is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such. Before making any commitment of a legal or financial nature you should seek advice from a qualified and registered Australian legal practitioner or financial or investment advisor.