Be kind and spend. Thousands of Kiwis have lost much, if not all, of their income under lockdown. For those whose incomes haven't changed, this may be the time to loosen the purse strings to spend and share some of it.
In normal circumstances I can't imagine myself recommending that people spend any more than they need to. But now is the time to be more generous with friends, family, local businesses, charities and more.
But be kind to yourself if you have debt, says Adrienne Gallie, who in her ministry as a Sister of St Joseph is a financial mentor at MoneyTalks NZ. "Pull your own oxygen mask down first."
Those still in full-time work have not only kept their income, but are spending less thanks to being locked in at home, points out Philanthropy New Zealand's chief executive Sue McCabe. She describes our current situation as a two speed economy.
The problem can be bringing yourself to spend at all. It's natural to hunker down physically and financially in times of uncertainty, "It is a very primeval instinct," says psychologist and financial adviser Paul King of wealthcounselling.com. To get over this think of the whole of New Zealand as your family, not just the people in your home," he says.
Here are some ways to spend/give more:
Give to charity: Charities are doing it tough. Some are predicting losing more than half their revenue. Newly unemployed Kiwis are cancelling their direct debits and charities can't do traditional fundraisers such as letter drops or street appeals under lockdown. Yet the need they serve isn't going away. Charities that aren't at front and centre of people's minds in this crisis may well be losing the most. That's everything from the Aids Foundation to Youthline. Consider them, as well as those on the frontline such as the Auckland City Mission, Salvation Army, and the Mental Health Foundation of NZ.
Volunteer your time. Even if you have no money to give, says McCabe, volunteer your expertise and newfound time through HelpTank or your local regional Volunteer Centre, which you can find through Volunteering New Zealand's website.
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Give food. Give cash, not food, to foodbanks, because they can't do supermarket pickups currently. Another way to get food to people in need is to join one of the many self-isolation Facebook groups to assist vulnerable people and those who can't leave home. I know people personally who are shopping for others, delivering the food and not taking any money for it.
Support local businesses. Buy online from local businesses if you can. Or support them by buying vouchers through SOS cafe. The idea is that if you used to buy a coffee and muffin every day, then buy a voucher instead and give the business some much-needed income. Hopefully you can use the voucher after lockdown, although accept that the business may not reopen. As well as businesses, social enterprises need our support, says McCabe. These are projects that use business models to help solve social needs. An example is The Cookie Project, which employs people with disabilities.
Keep paying for services. If you can afford to, keep paying your lawn mowing contractor, your personal trainer and other services you use. McCabe is continuing to pay for casual child care she isn't currently using. "It would be amoral not to," she says.
Be kind to your tenants. If you can afford to, consider reducing the rent over lockdown for tenants on reduced income. Many are struggling to put food on the table for the first time in their lives.
Pay your rent. Not all landlords are greedy pigs. They're people too, and may have lost the income from their day job, which tops up your rent to pay for the mortgage, rates, insurance and so on. Their so-called "mortgage holiday" is a deferral they will have to pay back later with compounded interest.
King says we should try to support our large "family" by spending our money in New Zealand's own businesses. That doesn't just mean small or local. If you have a choice then the New Zealand-owned option such as Noel Leeming, for example, could be a better choice than Australian-owned Harvey Norman.