There is a lot happening at the moment. On a daily basis we are waking up to new changes and living circumstances that most have never experienced before.

It can cause a great deal of stress especially if your change of circumstances means that income is reduced temporarily. While most of us may not have a comprehensive crisis management plan, in this article we’ll share our tips for helping you plan during difficult financial times using the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak as an example.

Review Spending

Don’t let yourself fall into a financial crisis. Now is the time to be proactive and take actions to safeguard your future. For example if you’re looking at how to save money, it is a great time to re-think about how you and your family spend. With restrictions in place, you can be re-directing the money you were spending on meals out and other entertainment expenses and place that into a savings account.

Any direct debits that are non-essential should also be reviewed. For example, multiple subscriptions to online video streaming is probably something you don’t need right now.

The best way to save money is to take a good look in your pantry and cupboards then make a list of essentials you need. When visiting the supermarket, don’t panic buy, gather what you need in a calm manner to avoid over spending.

Plan and prioritise for the future

It is important to think of how a global situation may affect you in the short and long term. In the short term, as your bills come in, prioritise them to see what is most urgent and pay those first. Let your provider know up front if you are struggling or believe you will have difficulty paying for utilities in the coming months.

Communication is key - banks, companies and organisations are aware of the current pandemic so it’s important to communicate with them and arrange payment plans or agreements to ensure your services continue during this already stressful time. Many organisations will already have measures in place you can possibly take advantage of during this time.

We don’t know what will happen in weeks or months down the track, so be proactive with your savings plan which should include important insurances and safeguards such as superannuation, life insurance and income protection. Talk with your partner about what day to day life will look like if one of you were to become unemployed.

Talk to your bank

Many banks and financial institutions will be experiencing large volumes of calls coming through from customers experiencing financial hardship. If you need help, try and remain patient and be assured your case will be looked at. A key savings tip is to ask as many questions as you need, to understand how home loan repayment deferrals will work. Ask about how you can stay on top of your credit commitments without compromising your financial position.

Access assistance and stay up to date

The Government has released different assistance updates including the Coronavirus Supplement. Financial assistance is just one of a range of measures the Government is implementing to address the global health crisis.

Be sure to stay on top of these changes and understand how they may help you during this time.

Reading information from reliable sources from which you can base your decisions and actions off is very important. Examples include official government sites and other reputable sources. Check these first before reading content on social media.

The following sites are the best available sources of information for health and government updates:

Look after your mental health

When you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, it’s important to recognise this and have strategies in place to overcome these feelings. Staying connected with family, friends and work colleagues is important during this time. If you can’t access your regular doctor, reach out to online reputable resources for help and assistance.

If you’re working from home, keep up regular physical activity and maintain a healthy diet. Get up and walk around every so often just as you would at work.

Horizon Bank is here if you need help. Visit our web page for any updates and our response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Get in touch with us if you are experiencing financial hardship, or if you need saving tips. We are here to support our members & communities as best we can.

The content in this article has been prepared by Horizon Bank for general information only and it is not intended to be professional advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should seek your own legal, accounting, financial or other professional advice where appropriate, and consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and Terms and Conditions before deciding whether to acquire any products or services offered by Horizon Bank and/or its affiliated partners. We do not recommend any third party products or services referred to in this article unless otherwise stated and we are not liable in relation to them. Any links to third party websites are for your information and we do not endorse any content on those sites. Horizon Credit Union Ltd ABN 66 087 650 173 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence Number 240573 trading as Horizon Bank.