Like many people, I had all my work projects and contracts cancelled last month.
I’m lucky in that I should be eligible for JobKeeper, but that’s at least a month away and as a freelancer, I don’t get a redundancy payment or have any annual leave to cash out.
My boyfriend and I live in a large sharehouse, which keeps our overheads pretty low, so we were in a good position to start with. But with no job, it was time to pull out the bank statements and start making some cuts.
We love to go for drinks and meals with friends and that was the first thing to go – at least everyone is staying home so we aren’t getting FOMO! We take turns paying, but I think I spend about $250 a fortnight at restaurants and bars.
We want to support a few venues around us during this time, so we’re allowing ourselves one takeaway a week for “date night”. It was my shout this week and we picked up an Ethiopian feast (which also did lunch and dinner the next day) for $75. No more treats this week – that’s a saving of $175 this fortnight alone! Eek!
I’ve recently been drinking more than I would normally – stress makes me thirsty apparently – but wine costs money. We usually buy it from the bottleshop nearby for about $15 a bottle. Not anymore! I sent my boyfriend my referral code for Naked Wines, which got him $100 off a $160 case of 12 wines – making it $5 a bottle for good wine! (You can also get $100 off here) That should last us two weeks, so it’s a saving of $120 a fortnight (ouch!).
When I was working in offices around the city, I would spend about $30 a week just getting to and from work. Now that I have plenty of time (and a newfound fear of public transport) I just walk anywhere I need to go. Another $60 saved this fortnight!
And of course, because I’m not going to work early in the morning, I have time to make my own coffee at home. So instead of spending $40 a fortnight on long blacks, my housemates and I chipped in $15 each to buy a big bag of coffee from a cafe in our neighbourhood we love. That should last us a month, saving me $32.50 every two weeks.
My biggest fixed non-essential expense is my dance studio membership. It costs me $99 a fortnight but it keeps me fit and happy, so I was reluctant to give it up. The decision was made for me when the studio was forced to close, but they are now offering unlimited classes on Zoom for $30 a fortnight. I still get my dance fix, but I’m saving $69 a fortnight.
I was also due a haircut this month, but instead of getting a full wash, cut and blow-dry, I had my hairdresser cut my straight fringe into a side fringe for $10. That means it won’t need to be cut again for months, and I saved myself $60.
As a result of (enforced) staying home and cutting down on some of my frivolous spending, I estimate that I’ve saved $516.50 this fortnight – probably a good thing, since my income was $0!
We’re lucky that my boyfriend is still getting his Austudy payments and that our rent is low so the only cuts we’ve had to make so far have been in our discretionary spending. If you’re experiencing real financial hardship as a result of the current situation, find out what state or federal support you’re eligible for and speak to your bank, landlord and electricity company about what they can do to help. And if your mental health is suffering, reach out to Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.