It’s lockdown time Melbourne! We’ve been here before (5 times so far 😢), and it ain’t getting any easier. But it does give you a chance to get some things done.
If you’re anything like me, lockdown has traditionally meant going on an internet shopping spree or binge watching Netflix for hours on end. Not this time though! This lockdown will be different because you’re finally going to get your finances in order.
So what are the 7 steps? Well let’s dive into them:
Step 1: Start with the Basics
First we want to make sure there’s nothing fishy going on. Unfortunately, with the Pandemic in full force, a lot of unsavoury characters have seen it as an opportunity to get their scam on, so check your bank accounts and credit cards for any transactions that you don’t recognise. If all is clear, then great! You’re in lockdown with nothing to worry about (except maybe boredom). But if there are some other questionable things going on then it’s time to get a little more serious about lockdown mode.
Step 2: Gather the Evidence
Before you get a lynch mob together, check with anyone else who might have access to your card or accounts, and think deep and hard about the transaction description to be absolutely certain there’s something fishy going on. If you’re sure there is, then get on the front foot and call the bank. All major Aussie banks will have specialists that deal with this sort of thing, and in most cases will give you the benefit of the doubt and refund the money before they even recover it from those sneaky thieves. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be outright thievery, you can challenge any transaction in this way for a variety of reasons, such as a pesky gym membership fee, where for some reason the cancellations department at the gym is tremendously illusive 🤔
Step 3: Get your house in order
OK, so now that you’ve forensically analysed your accounts CSI-style, and you’ve taken care of any thieves, we can focus on getting your own house in order. Hopefully your analysis thus far has already illuminated a few areas of improvement for you, but we want to go a step further. Take some time to do some quick categorising of your expenses for the last month. It really doesn’t matter whether you use a budgeting app, a fancy spreadsheet or if you go old-school with the print-off and highlight method, this step is mostly about facing your demons 👿. It doesn’t even really matter what categories you use, but for the sake of giving you a little nudge, I’d suggest the following:
- Food & Drink
- Bank Fees & Charges
- Health & Fitness
- Transport & Vehicle
PRO TIP: A lot of banks now offer you the ability to categorise your spending within their apps or online banking portals, so log on and have a look before you spend an hour online looking for a decent spreadsheet template, or rush down to OfficeWorks to waste your hard-earned on a highlighter!
Step 4: Make like Edward Scissorhands and Cut!
Is there anything you can cut back on? It’s time to get brutal. And the best thing is, if you cancel anything and you truly, deeply miss it the day after, then I’m sure they’ll be delighted to take you back as a paying customer…
But you’re not going to fall for their charms, are you? 😏
Do you really need all 10 of those streaming subscriptions? I mean sure, Netflix is a necessity (if you don’t have your best friends’ login details anyway) and I need my Star Wars and Marvel fix, so Disney is an absolute necessity, but have you actually watched much on Amazon Prime on Stan in the last few weeks? Have you really? Tell me the name of it… 🤔
I’ve gotta be honest here, I kinda hate budgeting, and If I hear one more person regurgitate some “mojo” money baloney, or some geriatric boomer writes an article pontificating about how millennials need to eat less smashed avo, I’ll probably dump a load of rotten avocado’s on their doorstep, and at $1 each at Coles right now, I could probably afford it! The odd trip to the cafe isn’t THAT expensive and right now it’s damn right impossible, so you can safely ignore this sort of nonsense.
All I’m saying is, that every month or so, just have a look at your spending. It’s just so easy to do these days with credit cards, online shopping and those evil overlords at Afterpay. Make a few cuts, have a good look at where your hard-earned is going and try and be as mindful as you can about what you spend moving forward; it’s quite enlightening to be honest. Simple steps; if you spent $1,000 on eating out or Uber eats last month, try and cut it back to $500 this month, or check if you can get a better deal on your phone bill, your health insurance or utilities. If you’re in Lockdown, now’s the time to do it!
Step 5: Pay off those pesky bills
Now that you’re super mindful about your money, and you’ve cut back a little so you know there’s breathing room, get rid of any bills that are laying around. Whether that’s an electricity bill, $50 you owe your mate, or something a little more edgy like a parking fine (you naughty thing!), get rid of them, because they’re the type of thing that’ll just become a bigger problem later, and no-one wants to be denied a home loan because they forgot to pay a water bill 5 years ago!
While you’re at it, see if you can set up the recurring ones on a direct debit, even most utilities companies will let you set-up monthly direct debit bill payments now, so give them a call and ask, and if they don’t, give them the flick and switch over to a provider who exists in the 21st century!
Before we move on…
OK, so on a serious note, you might’ve gotten to this point and had the realisation that no matter how you do the sums, what you’re spending just ain’t going to fit into what you’re earning (if this isn’t you, move to step 6). If that’s the case, don’t despair, at the end of the day it’s only money. Don’t get me wrong, lack of money is one of the world’s biggest stressors, and I know it’s clichéd but it really ain’t the most important thing. So chin-up and explore the following potential options:
- Debt refinancing or consolidation
- 0% balance transfers for credit cards
- Selling some stuff you don’t need
- Speaking to a Financial Planner
- Swallowing the hard pill and fitting your lifestyle to your current means
- Getting a higher paying job
- Contacting the national debt helpline on 1800 007 007 if all else fails
Step 6: Take some time to think about your future
OK, so I’m not strictly talking about your finances here, but if COVID has taught us anything it’s that life can’t be taken for granted. Were you on exactly the path you wanted to be on even before lockdown? Do you really want to go back to 2 hours or more of commuting when this latest lockdown is over? Look, don’t do anything crazy and quit your job tomorrow, but now may be a time to step out of your comfort zone and decide to live your life the way you originally intended. After all, you only get one!
Step 7: Invest in yourself
You could spend all of lockdown watching Netflix or going for walks and grabbing coffees whilst just happening to “bump in” to your mates down at the park (“fancy seeing you here! 😂”), and sure, you need to do some of that to keep your sanity, but if you do have a little more time on your hands after such activities, then this could be the perfect little circuit breaker (for lack of a better term) to allow you to stop, refresh and re-set yourself a little.
Was there some skill you wanted to brush up on? Some pesky task that’ll probably only take an hour to do, and will make you feel heaps better once done? Do you run a business and have been meaning to implement some new process or write a few blog posts? 😉
I hate Lockdowns as much as the next guy but the one positive I have found in it all is that they have provided an opportunity to stop, refresh and re-set myself and the way I conduct my business.
For me, it was initially about gearing up my business to be able to survive through this pandemic, but as a bonus, it has led to a deeper analysis and understand of my own business and I’m sure it’ll breed success for year to come.
For you, it could be your chance to do the same thing, or it could be an opportunity to get those pesky financial gremlins sorted so you can feel confident about the future. There are plenty of great tools out there that’ll make it easy for you – just take a look around! Or, if you want to take a deeper dive into supercharging your finances, then book in for a chat: