5 tips for managing your money post-JobKeeper with 86 400’s Belinda Hogan

A woman sits at a desk, reviewing papers in front of a laptop.

After an entire year, the federal government’s Covid-19 JobKeeper relief scheme came to an end on Sunday, March 28.

Without this wage support subsidy, it is predicted that more than 100,000 people will lose their jobs over the next few months.

In light of this, we spoke with chief financial officer at 86 400, Belinda Hogan, to find out what Australians can do to prepare for the loss of income.

Here are 5 handy tips.

Expense list: review everything!

To prepare for reduced income, you first have to know where you stand. That means reviewing your expenses and leaving no stone unturned while doing it. Hogan says, "These days a lot of money gets sucked out of your account and you don’t even really notice it."

To combat any uncertainty she suggests making a list of all your expenses and then ordering them from biggest to smallest. Once you have that list, then you can really start to get an idea of where to cut back.

Money questions? Ask for help

Unfortunately, the bigger expenses tend to be the ones that are harder to go without. This will usually be things such as utility bills, mortgage payments, rent and so forth. The good news is that these are usually the types of payments you can call and ask for help with, says Hogan.

"Banks and utility providers have whole teams that are set up to help people in these sorts of scenarios," she says.

Some things Hogan suggests talking to your provider about are whether or not you can get a better deal, going onto a payment plan and possibly even pausing payments. "Definitely don't be afraid to make that phone call" she says. Lots of other people will be doing it and providers are prepared to help.

Hogan adds that it's also a good idea to do this ahead of time. In other words, don't wait until after you've missed a payment to ask for help. If you know that your money is running out, ring your providers and let them know.

Shop around on providers

If your provider can't give you a better deal, think about switching. Reviewing your home loan provider in particular, could help you save a fair few dollars.

We looked at an example of this in our recent home loan report. In the report we found that at the moment the most competitive variable interest rate on offer in the Mozo database is 1.99% p.a. with Reduce Home Loans (1.99% p.a. comparison rate*). After doing some calculations, we figured out that if the average big four bank customer paying off a $400,000 home loan were to switch to that interest rate, they could save over $4,000 a year on repayments!

Hogan says even if you're not impacted by JobKeeper ending, it's always a good idea to review your mortgage: "Have a look at what fees you're paying with your home loan. Is it still right for you?"

Hogan adds that If your interest rate doesn't start with a '2', you're paying too much. She says that these days refinancing can be really quick and that lenders such as 86 400 have tried to make the process as simple as possible.

So to summarise, a 25-year home loan is a long commitment. It makes sense if your situation has changed and you need to rethink things. Head to Mozo's compare refinance home loans page, if you think you need to shake things up and switch providers. Just make sure you're also aware of whatever fees might be involved in switching.

Check in and look after yourself

While doing all of this, make sure to look after your mental health too. Searching for a job is in itself full time work. It's exhausting and at times it can be hard to stay motivated.

To help keep yourself on track, Hogan suggests setting goals in other areas of your life. This could be in personal fitness, learning a new skill or even taking up a new hobby. She says that while it is important to earn an income, for a lot of people work is also about a sense of accomplishment. "It makes you feel good and so it's important to figure out how you can find that same sense of accomplishment in other areas of your life."

Head to the website Future Learn for some inspiration on what to study. There are also plenty of fitness YouTubers and vloggers that you can follow for free workouts and heaps of websites with recipes, if you want to improve your culinary skills!

Fun for free

Lastly, search for low cost hobbies to amuse yourself and your loved ones. Think about temporarily pausing subscription services such as Netflix. Instead go old school and join the library. There you can borrow movies and TV series on DVDs for free.

Other low cost things you can do include having a picnic, visiting museums and galleries with no entrance fee and even doing a quiz night with friends or family. Hogan also suggests having a clear out and selling stuff secondhand on websites such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay and Gumtree.

Finally, definitely make a call if you need help, says Hogan. Services such as Services Australia and the National Debt Helpline are there for everyone to use.

Want more tips to help get your budget in order? Check out Mozo's multitude of guides to saving money for everything from how to create a budget to how to build up an emergency savings fund.

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