Top 5 ways to turn your finances around: your guide to post pandemic financial success
Whilst many of you have tightened your belts, given up on luxuries and bunkered down during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now time to start thinking about how you come out of lockdown with a financial plan that sets you up for the future.
Generally, the rules for financial success, or in the case of the modern world regaining stability, remain as they were before: financial success comes down to your personal financial planning abilities and how well you budget.
There are now further considerations in how you spend and what you spend your money on, but the ground rules are essentially the same. So what should you do post pandemic to rediscover your financial mojo?
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1. Forecast your cash flow
Cash flow is the movement of cash in and out of your household. In life in general, if you fail to manage your cash flow you’re likely to spiral into debt.
The trick to successful cash flow management is pretty simple, your incomings should be more than your outgoings. If you find you are spending more than you are making, you have poor cash flow and you need to reconsider the way you manage your money.
If there is some good to come out of this pandemic, it is that it has encouraged people to manage their money better. Dining out has been non-existent, takeaway consumption cut down and public transport in general hasn’t been a cash concern. You may also have cut memberships and other non-essential items out of your day-to-day dealings.
The trick now is to continue that disciplined approach to budget management.
When we come out of full lockdown, you should continue to analyse your expenditure and predict what future cash flow looks like.
Take a two-pronged approach:
- everything goes back to normal
- post pandemic economics continue to spiral out of control and we move into a deep recession.
If you can budget for both situations, you’ll give yourself a better chance of financial success post pandemic.
2. Save your cash
If you forecast your budget correctly, you’ll find you continue to save money.
The trick here is not to fall back inti bad habits. If you were buying four cups of coffee a day and cut that down to two, keep drinking two coffees a day. Even the little amounts of money add up over time.
Continue to spend only on necessities and if you feel like splurging make it a one-off or irregular occurrence. The more money you save, the more you’ll have to help you navigate through tough times.
3. Create an emergency fund
If you are saving money, part of those savings should go into an emergency fund. The rule of thumb is to have three to six months of expenses in a ‘do not touch’ savings account. You may even consider adding extra savings into a high interest savings account to earn compound interest and extra money. If you have the money, cash management accounts may also provide a great option to build on your emergency savings.
When starting an emergency fund, determine how much you will need to pay off essentials and or live comfortably during an emergency. Factor, in how risky your income may be during this period.
Importantly, this money should be easily accessible, so make sure that if you have opened a separate emergency account such as a high interest account or incentive and bonus saver account, you can access your funds at any time.
4. Determine your long term goals
If you are able to put money away beyond emergency funds, it’s worth sitting down and working out a set of long-term goals.
Are you interested in investing in stocks, are you looking to buy an investment property. With current interest rates as low as they are, it might be worth building a home loan savings plan.
You can compare interest rates here to determine which home loan best suits your needs.
Stay focused on these goals and plan for the future.
5. Take advantage of low interest rates
The official cash rate is at an all-time low of 0.25 per cent.
Banks need and want your custom.
It’s not just home loans that you should be looking into either.
While low interest rates generally have a negative impact on savings accounts, you can use the low interest rate to your advantage and seek out a bank that is rewarding new customers with better than average introductory offers on high interest savings accounts and or term deposits.
The low interest rate environment puts you in a great position to negotiate with your current lender for more competitive rates and can help with refinancing, given the competitive nature of the lending environment.