This is undoubtedly a new territory for many families across Australia as we navigate the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak. Really Simple Money has compiled 20 tips for re-thinking your money and making the most of it in times of crisis.

We welcome your thoughts and tips on how to survive this crisis. Leave your comments at the end of the story.

MAKING more money from home:

1.Turn one room of your home into your office and, if you have your own ABN, then technically a percentage of your home can be rented for your business. You can claim the rent off tax. Don’t forget to claim to items like printers, computers and even desks and chairs. But you must derive income from the business and it must be a going concern.

2. Get the kids involved with dog-walking and other great pocket money plans. Just because you’re stuck at home, it doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to neighbours (while maintaining social distancing) and teach your kids the value of helping.

3. Offer to cook / drive / and shop for your neighbours. If one of you is doing a supermarket run, check in with those around you first and see who needs something while you’re there. Sure, it may not make you rich, but try good old fashioned barter – swap the shop for some bread, milk. Or even toilet paper. 

4. Start new hobbies or courses from home that could make you money. There are so many online courses (and free ones!) that can help you on your way. Imagine doing that home decorator course and being able to help your neighbours with their renovations down the track? Don’t forget you need a licence for jobs over $5,000, including GST.

5. Start your own herb and vege garden to help supply your local community. This was a massive trend during the Great Depression – it is an amazing way to get out into the sunshine, save money on groceries and form a community connection. If you have a spare space on your little balcony, or in your yard then this is a no brainer and super cheap to set up. Bunnings reports that seeds are racing off the shelves.

Smarter ways to SAVE your money

1. Re-think your bank accounts. Move to an online bank without the fees. Too many people sail along with the same old familiar accounts for years paying what the Checkout TV program called “the loyalty tax”. ING is a great online bank that allows you the ability to set up multiple accounts and automatically transfer percentages of your income into them.  

2. Set up several separate automated savings accounts, including one just for fun. While you might not be travelling anywhere right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t start planning for the day when it’s safe to roam free again.

3. For the kids – play your own games and activities with online tips, instead of buying all the latest gadgets and toys in store. If you were to add up the amount of money you’ve spent over the years on the latest plastic-fantastic gadgets and must have kid’s toys then you’d most likely fall off your chair.  Grab some pens and paper and make up some cards called the “5 second rule”… each family member gets to create a bunch of questions where the opponent has five seconds to answer.

4. Up-cycle! Instead of throwing out your old furniture, clothes, household goods, give them a refresh and sell them online. (or use them again yourself!). It’s no longer called recycling. These days, the lingo is up-cycling. Taking something old and making it as new again. It could be as simple as recovering a chair, or painting an old mirror frame with gold paint, sanding back a timber cupboard… chances are someone out there is in need of that for some small cash and will even come and collect it from your place for free.

5. A simple garage sale can be a great way to spring clean your house and make some cash on the side. Make sure you set it up in keeping with all the latest social distancing measures, with a tin out the front for cash payments.

Smarter ways to SPEND your money

1. Re-assess what is “essential’ with your spending. Old habits are hard to change, especially when you’ve been buying that same product for yours and now don’t think twice about it. But there are so many home-brand products available, on a slightly higher or lower shelf, that are in fact made from the exact same products and factories as the more expensive brands.

2. Change where you shop – there are always cheaper options if you look hard enough. Try Aldi instead of the main chains. It may mean driving a different route, but in trying different stores you may discover different foods and household items that you hadn’t thought of before. New store, new menu inspiration!

3. Support your local providers. Everything from your butcher to your babysitter. We need to continue to think locally. While so many stores are losing down, it’s out local small businesses that need us most. Of course it’s easier to a shop at a one-stop location… but while we are no longer in such a chaotic hurry these days, we have time to slow down and shop at a variety of smaller, local outlets.

4. Do a swap! Re-evaluate what your assets are and see who wants to do a barter… anything from your car to your city apartment, or even your exercise equipment. Maybe you have a gorgeous, small city apartment that is starting to make you feel a tad cramped – you’re craving a little more space and greenery? Jump online and check out the various house-swap sites that will save you money from paying for a place – while also providing a place for someone in need of a little city break!

5. Find out what’s free online. Cancel old subscriptions you don’t use and find a newer, cheaper alternative. Apps online these days will blow your mind. Just because you subscribed to that news outlet back in 2006 doesn’t mean you have to keep on paying $30 a month without even noticing! It’s time to scroll through your bank accounts with a keen see and see what you’re subtly being charged for that you no longer use. It’s gobsmacking to realise how many subscriptions we have that we don’t think about because we haven’t actively gone online to opt out of them. Now’s the time!

MANAGING your money more easily

1. Online budgeting apps can be free and super easy to use. A great example is the new “budgeting” apps for all your money needs. There are several easy to use, and free apps online that will automatically add everything up for you, personalised to your needs and track your spending on a daily basis. They’re incredibly smart – and way more fun that the old excel spreadsheet – or the few hundred dollars you pay someone else to do it for you every year. You may just be surprised how rewarding it can be to be so financially empowered.

2. Learn how to manage your own super, tax, budgeting, accounting etc. There are so many guides available for the average family (or individual) that break these areas down into the simplest of terms. Other than the Really Simple Money website of course, there are great books like The Barefoot Investor that can make it fun to take control of your own super, bank accounts, budgets etc. Grab a copy from your local library to save an extra packet.

3. Create a family spending chart. Get the kids involved and teach them the skills of budgeting and the benefits of saving. It’s not taught enough in schools! We assume our little ones are being taught all the essentials in school. But along with the latest science, tech, sport, reading and writing skills, it’s worth sitting down with your kids and having a good old chat about money. Make it interactive. Ask them what they think money is important for. How would they spend it? How would they save it and why? Perhaps even set them up a bank account of their own with a reward system for pocket money, or help them make their own piggy bank from home!

4. Check out the latest webinars and Ted Talks and online instructional videos to upskill your own financial planning. Podcasts, online talks, webinars – they’re the easiest and most effective way to learn different ways of doing things, while doing something from home at the same time. You could be up-cycling that gold mirror frame while listening to the world’s best experts about how to manage your super. Win win!

5. Start a community conversation – WhatsApp chats with your own network of friends, colleagues and family can provide a wealth of knowledge and tips and motivation. While we need to maintain social distancing these days, online chats with our loved ones and our local community can be an amazing way of staying in touch and sharing our pool of knowledge. Back in the days of the great depression and the world wars, they didn’t have WhatsApp…we need to remember that we are all easily accessible, even while we remain at home.

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