Don't panic. If you've lost your income or face that prospect, it's very easy to be stunned like the possum in the headlights and do nothing. Or worse; the shock, grief and stress could affect your mental health.
What's going to pan out over the next few months for you is in the lap of the gods. But action is always better than inaction.
Start by making plans and then ticking off tasks designed to improve your situation is a great way to bolster your overall wellbeing. Write a To Do list of every single task you can do to help your situation.
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Your list should include more than simply financial tasks. Include self-help steps such as setting up an exercise routine or a daily creative activity.
Then create a schedule so you treat this like a job. In it assign slots for your various daily activities such as breakfast, exercise, home schooling, learning, tasks, and so on. Write it all down and tick items off each day. Or get a personal planning app such as TickTick.
Even if local centres are closed, Moneytalks.co.nz is still offering budgeting advice through its helpline 0800 345 123, or via live chat, email or SMS. If you have a financial adviser make contact.
Write a budget
If you already have a budget, then skip to the trimming task below. If you don't, at the very least make a simple list of your outgoings broken down into categories such as utilities, food, housing and so on. Use the simple template at Moneytalks.co.nz/resources or an online tool such as Sorted.org.nz/tool/budgeting-tool
Trim the fat
Split your figures into essential and non-essential then slash the latter to the bone. Be honest and ruthless. But leave yourself a small sum for treats to look forward to.
Apply for government assistance
Don't delay. There is no harm in applying even if you think you wouldn't normally qualify. Some of the rules around Work & Income benefits have relaxed. Self-employed people and sole traders qualify no questions asked providing they've lost at least 30 per cent of their income.
Talk to your landlord
Whether it's a residential or commercial landlord ask if your payments can be delayed or reduced. But remember you will most likely need to pay the rent back later. Also be aware that your landlord's "mortgage holiday" isn't a holiday. It's just a delay, and thanks to compound interest increases what you need to pay in the long run.
Get the bills under control
This is the time to analyse all your bills with a fine tooth comb. Are there subscriptions you could cancel until things improve? Could you reduce your spending by changing behaviour or switching plans or providers? Every bill should be up for question. Ask yourself the question: "do I really need it?" Your To Do list should include phone calls to any organisation you pay money to such as your utilities and phone provider. Remain calm. Many will be able to review your accounts and suggest new plans or other ways to save money. If that doesn't work, shop around.
Talk to the bank
If you're going to miss mortgage or loan payments get on the phone to your bank before the problem spirals out of control. You can most likely ask for a holiday, which means delaying payments until a later date, not getting off scot-free. "While people have time it might be a good idea to review the mortgage and even refinance," says Stuart Wills of Mortgage Managers. "There are some great rates being offered, with one bank offering 2.89 per cent for one year fixed and 2.99 per cent for two years."
Talk to your insurers
Think before cancelling your insurance. Many insurers have options for customers who are in financial hardship during the lockdown. IAG, for example, is offering deferred premium payments and fee-free cancellation for small-business owners. AA is encouraging customers to call. It can increase excesses or suggest removing optional extras to reduce premiums.
Try not to be reticent. Others may have ideas. Could you join bubbles with a neighbour and they pay you for childcare, while they keep working?
Ultimately action is better than inaction. If you treat your current money situation as a job with bite-sized tasks you are more likely to improve your situation