Everything you need to know about Coronavirus and your finances

Couple concerned about their finances

Around Australia and across the globe, Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed the way we work, socialise and how our country will be governed for the foreseeable future. The situation is constantly evolving, so Mozo is keeping track of the latest news about the virus and how it will affect individuals and businesses. Here are answers to the big coronavirus questions.

October COVID update

Cities and regions across the nation have experienced lockdowns in 2021, with some state borders once again closing to travellers from affected regions (or shut entirely). So if you are planning to travel, check the relevant area restrictions first.

The state and territory governments are planning the easing of some social restrictions in the months ahead. This is largely dependant on vaccination rates and the exact changes will differ depending on where you live – stay up to date by checking your state's relevant reopening roadmap.

Covid-19 government relief

Support for businesses

Government and banks have provided numerous financial support options. These include government wage assistance, cashflow boosts, business loan guarantees and instant asset write-off expansion, plus fee waivers, loan deferrals and other support from banks.

The SME Recovery Loan Scheme has been expanded to include more SMEs, offering low-rate loans up to $5 million to help struggling businesses through lockdown slumps (so long as they have an annual turnover under $250 million).

In July, the NSW government announced a new set of support measures for affected businesses. This includes a wage subsidy for business reporting a 30% decline in turnover, as well as $1,000 per-week subsidies for sole traders and other support for micro-businesses. However, the federal government has now laid plans to wind down this kind of business assistance as vaccination targets are met.

Government support for individuals 

JobKeeper payment and JobSeeker supplementAs the economic situation has developed, there have been changes to these support payments. JobKeeper is no longer available. The JobSeeker COVID supplement has also ceased, but the standard rate for this income support payment has risen by $50 per-fortnight. This still marks a reduction from the current COVID supplement-boosted level.
Automatic disaster payments will be paused in various states when 70% vaccination targets are reached. Workers will have to reapply and prove eligibility each week to keep receiving payments (which will see reductions after further vaccination targets are met).
The HomeBuilder scheme. In an effort avoid an expected slump in the construction industry, the government was offering $25,000 grants to eligible Aussies building new homes or making substantial renovations. Applications are now closed, but those with the grant have now been given a 12-month extension on the building deadline.

2021 Federal Budget moves

The 2021/2022 Federal Budget has introduced a number of schemes and programs for post-COVID economic shifts in Australia. This includes:

Mortgage relief

Banks are once again offering more tailored support for those experiencing financial hardship since the June 2021 resurgence of COVID community transmission. This includes things like fee waivers, mortgage deferrals, interest rate freezes and payment reductions. 

Banks and lenders are still offering low home loan interest rates since the RBA cut the cash rate to the historic low of 0.10% last year. But housing affordability remains a major issue, with house prices now outstripping pre-pandemic estimates.

Insurance relief

Insurance companies are once again offering relief to customers affected by COVID. This could be in the form of premium discounts, fee waivers and alternative payment plans.

Loan and credit card relief

Some credit card providers started lowering rates in 2020. Now, as competition from payment methods like buy now, pay later and debit cards with rewards schemes, even more competitive credit card offers have hit the market.
Some lenders cut personal loan rates. They've opted to reduce interest rates, waive fees, provide flexible repayment options or even freeze loan repayments. Check out Mozo's personal loans report to get the lay of the land.

Financial counselling

There are many free financial counselling service available. Find out who to contact and how they might help you during COVID-19.

Manage your finances during COVID-19

Know what expenses you can claim on tax. This will help you recoup on energy costs and other tech and work equipment depreciation if you’re currently working from home. It also pays to know what WFH will mean for your home insurance.
Find out if refinancing is an option for you during the pandemic. It could save you thousands, but may be less accessible for those severely financially affected by the crisis. 
Assess your life insurance and income protection. Read the fine print so you know what you are covered for during coronavirus. While it might be uncomfortable, you can also consider writing a will.
Flow these five easy tactics for savings cash in 2021.

Haggle down your household expenses. There's savings to be made from car insurance to credit cards and we've got hot tips to help you haggle your way there. It's also time to take advantage of massive drops in energy prices.
Potentially access your superannuation early. Keep in mind, you will likely loose money in the long-run (especially if you're a young worker) for this short-term boost. If you now need to rebuild your fund, we've got tips to help you re-grow that nest egg and info on the benefits of ethical investments.
Look out for coronavirus scams. Learn how to keep your money safe from scammers targeting your super, offering fake products or a virus cure.

International money transfers during COVID-19

Global events impact foreign exchange rates. Find out what this means for your IMT and protect yourself against the current climate.
The Aussie dollar hit a two-year high at the end of 2020.
This means things are looking good for anyone making international money transfers from Australia to other countries.
You can now send money to Chinese bank accounts in real time. This means recipients won’t have to go to physical branches to pick up funds.

Travel during COVID-19

travel ban for Australians came into effect on 25 March, 2020. This has meant citizens can’t leave the country unless it’s on humanitarian or compassionate grounds, or in the national interest. 

While Australians have been able travel to New Zealand in an exclusive bubble, this has recently been paused due to the increase in community transmission. The 2021 Federal Budget suggested borders may reopen for international travel in late 2022, but this will depend on vaccination levels and the state of global affairs at that time.

There are different travel and social restrictions within states and territories which are constantly evolving in responses to COVID clusters and other events. So, if you're planning a road trip at any point, make sure to check the relevant state government travel advice before you go.