5 ways to stay financially healthy during Coronavirus

The development of COVID-19 (aka Coronavirus) as a global pandemic has brought with it a wave of social panic, employment disruption and financial market volatility. While some people are going overboard on toilet paper purchases, others are preparing for the possibility of self-isolation, and the myriad financial complications that could accompany this and other impacts of the constantly shifting economic and political landscape.

We’ve been diligently keeping track of how Coronavirus might affect your bank balance, and we’ve come up with a few tips to help you stay in the green while red alarms sound across the country.

1. Take advantage of the recent RBA cuts and look at refinancing your home loan

Home loan rates are at an all-time low after the RBA cut rates to 0.5% in March, with 35 lenders (including the big four) in Mozo’s database last week announcing their intention to pass on the full rate. So savvy homeowners might put their energy into refinancing this month. 

Refinancing your home loan is essentially shopping around for a more favourable interest rate or flexible loan features. It isn’t for everyone though. If you own less than 20% of the property (i.e. you have a loan ratio value over 80%), switching may cost you more than it provides as it’ll require a second round of lenders mortgage insurance. There’s also a range of fees involved in breaking certain loans and hooking up with new options, so read widely and come armed with info from our home loan refinancing comparisons.  

2. Or, talk to your bank about a mortgage repayment 'holiday' if you're unable to work due to the pandemic

Unfortunately, people in certain industries aren’t able to take their work home with them. Many casual workers also don’t have leave entitlements, and other workers may have to take unpaid sick leave. 

If you find yourself in this situation and you’re a mortgage holder, this could spell big trouble for your loan repayment plan. Happily, there are some things you can do to take the pressure off. While wide-scale mortgage suspensions aren’t currently in effect in Australia, some of the big banks are already offering assistance packages for those financially impacted by the virus. 

Getting on the phone and having a chat with your home loan provider is a great way to figure out what you could be eligible for. If your income is substantially reduced when having to self-isolate because of  the virus, a mortgage holiday - when repayments are paused due to  job transition periods or unforeseen illness and injury - is a possible short term solution. 

3. If you can work from home, find a fab new energy deal to run your personal office

As more cases of Coronavirus are being reported across Australia many companies are choosing to close their offices for the 14-day virus incubation period, and are asking those who can to continue work while self-isolating. This means all the energy you normally enjoy at the office will come out of your home. 

So, why not take this moment to reassess your provider and make sure you’re getting the best deal while using your lights, kettle, internet connection and computer for an extra eight hours a day? Our handy energy provider comparison tool will help you find the best plan for your home.

4. Consider a term deposit to keep that nest egg safe and warm

While the interest rate cut has spelled bad news for growing your rainy day fund in many savings accounts, a term deposit may be a safer haven for your nest egg in 2020. It’ll let you squirrel away your acorn savings stash for a set period at a set interest rate, ensuring your money grows to its full potential in these unstable times. 

Term deposits are relatively low maintenance - although some come with minimum deposits and other requirements - and since you can’t access the growing funds for whatever decided time period you chose (perhaps six months or one year), they can help you reach those long-term savings goals. Naturally, this is also the catch. Be very sure you have enough funds across your accounts and income to keep things rolling smoothly while a portion of your savings are on a little term deposit holiday. 

5. If you have international travel plans, look at locking in a currency exchange rate before the Aussie dollar plummets further 

Prospective holidaymakers mightn’t be investigating upcoming trips due to travel bans and lockdowns across Europe, the US, Asia and beyond, but if you’ve already got tenable travel plans in place, you’ll want to make the most of a difficult situation. 

The RBA recorded the Aussie dollar sitting at 0.6457USD as of yesterday (March 12), continuing its decline. Locking in an exchange rate on a prepaid travel card is a way to mitigate further damage to your stockpile of holiday funds that exist as Australian dollars. 

These products allow you to load multiple foreign currencies while at home and abroad, maintaining the same exchange rate you locked in upon opening the account. They function similarly to your standard debit card, but can give you peace of mind in what is otherwise a rather stressful time to be a traveller.

But as with any financial product, prepaid travel cards can come with various fees, across ATM use, reloading, cross currency and closure, so you’ll need to weigh all this up against the potential benefit of maintaining current exchange rates.

RELATED ARTICLE: What the Coronavirus stimulus package will mean for Aussie small businesses.

For more finance fixes, find all the latest money news, tips, guides and comparisons in our banking hub.

Refinancing home loans 2020 - rates updated daily

Search promoted home loans below or do a full Mozo database search. Advertiser disclosure.
  • placeholder
    Mozo Experts Choice 2021
    Smart Booster Home Loan

    1 Year Discounted Variable Rate, Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, <80% LVR

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    1.99% p.a.variable for 12 months and then 2.48% p.a. variable
    2.47% p.a.

    A super low introductory rate home loan with no monthly or ongoing fees. Unlimited free redraws and unlimited additional repayments to help you build your equity and own your home sooner. Multiple loan splits available. (Rates revert after introductory period ends). 20% minimum deposit required. Winner of two Mozo Expert's Choice Award for 2021.

    Go to site
    Details
  • placeholder
    Basic Home Loan

    Fixed, Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, LVR<70%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    2.09% p.a.
    fixed 3 years
    2.43% p.a.

    Get a flexible loan structure with up to six loan accounts with different rate types. Make free extra repayments. Enjoy free redraw facility. No upfront or ongoing fees. Option to earn Qantas points.

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    Details
  • placeholder
    UHomeLoan

    Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    1.75% p.a.
    fixed 3 years
    2.22% p.a.

    $0 fees and easy application. Choose between weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayments. 3 year fixed rates are for new Owner Occupier Principal & Interest loans.

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    Details
  • placeholder
    Mozo Experts Choice 2021
    Celebrate Variable Home Loan

    <60% LVR, Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    2.19% p.a. variable
    2.19% p.a.

    Fast and efficient online application. Automatic discounts as loan is paid off. Free extra repayments and redraw facility. Zero fees to consider. Min 40% deposit required. Winner of three Mozo Expert's Choice Award for 2021.

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    Details
  • placeholder
    Fixed Rate Home Loan

    Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, LVR <80%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    1.88% p.a.
    fixed 2 years
    2.86% p.a.

    Ability to split your home loan between Fixed and Variable. Dedicated Relationship Manager. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more will receive $3288 (T&Cs, eligibility and lending criteria apply).

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    Details
  • placeholder
    Fixed Home Loan Special Offer

    Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, <80% LVR

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    1.89% p.a.
    fixed 2 years
    2.85% p.a.

    Competitive low rates starting from 1.89% (2.85% comparison rate) 2 years fixed for owner occupiers. No monthly account keeping fees & No loan establishment fee.

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    Details

*WARNING: This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan. The comparison rate displayed is for a secured loan with monthly principal and interest repayments for $150,000 over 25 years.

**Initial monthly repayment figures are estimates only, based on the advertised rate, loan amount and term entered. Rates, fees and charges and therefore the total cost of the loan may vary depending on your loan amount, loan term, and credit history. Actual repayments will depend on your individual circumstances and interest rate changes.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Home Loans Awards

Mozo provides general product information. We don't consider your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and we aren't recommending any specific product to you. You should make your own decision after reading the PDS or offer documentation, or seeking independent advice.

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