Millennial money: How to get creative with finances in a recession

By Tara McCabe ·
Woman wearing yellow shirt with glasses on, standing in front of whiteboard with lots of creative finance ideas.

Forty-four per cent of young people have either lost work hours, received a pay cut, been stood down or made redundant as a result of Covid-19, according to a recent report from ANZ.

Young people have been hit hard by the current recession, but that doesn’t mean they’re down. We spoke with Melbourne-based millennials Maggie and Chloe about how they’ve managed to make ends meet during the pandemic.

Freelancing with Fiverr

Hands working on laptop and writing in notepad for freelance work.

Digital marketer Maggie says she started to think about freelancing when she was stood down from her job at the end of March. She didn’t have an income at the time and JobKeeper hadn’t been announced yet.

“I applied to a few different freelancing websites, but Fiverr seemed to be the most user friendly.” Maggie says Fiverr is different because instead of constantly having to apply for jobs, you, the freelancer, post your specialties and people seeking those out contact you.

Does freelancing provide a proper income?

Maggie says if you work at freelancing and pursue return clients, you can definitely make it work. 

“I use it as a way to supplement my support payments and reduce the stress of day to day costs,” she says.

Maggie says that although freelancing hasn’t really become a full time job for her, she does have friends who use it as their main source of income.

She added that she would definitely recommend Fiverr and freelancing to others who have lost work. “I’ve told a bunch of friends who work in digital marketing to create a profile and see where it takes them. You can really expand your skills and give yourself more confidence.”

Fight or flight

Person getting ready to box

Similar to Maggie, performer and all-around creative Chloe had to rethink things when theatres closed back in March. Prior to the lockdown, Chloe had her own one-woman show in Melbourne called SWEETie. 

“I had performed it at the Midsumma Festival and was planning to take it round Australia, after which I was going to take it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August,” Chloe says.

As well as her gigs, both of Chloe’s side jobs fell through in March.

“I went into fight or flight mode. I thought what can I do to support myself? I looked into freelancing voice over work, which I had done before and was really lucky to be able to line up a few gigs and create a bit of cash flow.”

Chloe says after that JobKeeper was announced and she was able to claim it for one of her jobs. She was also able to pick up a bit of admin work from the same company.

Staying creative in lockdown

Since March, Chloe has been working on a few different things to keep flexing her creative muscle. To do this, she and a friend applied for and won an arts support grant from Melbourne City Council.

The council-funded project Chloe has been working on is called The Untouchables and shares the stories and experiences of people living in isolation during Covid-19.

“We started with a survey and then we interviewed people to get stories. We’ve been upskilling actors, so giving them a monologue, getting them to work with a director and film it from home. The whole concept is to upskill someone and pay them a fee for it,” says Chloe.

Chloe has also been working on turning SWEETie into a podcast.

Rethinking spending habits

Similar to a lot of other young people, both Chloe and Maggie say being in lockdown has actually led them to rethink what they spend their money on each day.

Maggie says, “I haven’t been able to go to the gym, so I cancelled my membership. I’m not paying for public transport, my daily coffee or the occasional lunch or after work drinks.”

She has embraced second-hand shopping more over the past few months, while Chloe has enjoyed taking a free online course.

Chloe says, “TAFE offers free online courses, so my iso goal has been to learn Auslan.”

Start a conversation

Besides cutting back on spending and looking for freelance work, Maggie recommends reaching out to people you know.

Even if you haven’t personally lost work, there’s a big chance that you know someone who has. With so many people being affected financially, now more than ever is the time to let others know what your situation is.

Maggie says, “The community at large has been more receptive to creative and collaborative working styles. For example, working from home is now normal, which in some industries it wasn’t before. The situation has, in a sense, created more opportunities.”

Savings - where to next?

One last note from Mozo is that for every foolproof savings plan, you need an even more foolproof savings account.

If you’re not working full-time at the moment, then a high interest savings account with lots of conditions to meet, probably isn’t for you. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t still nab yourself a top notch interest rate.

Check out the savings rates on offer below or head to Mozo’s compare savings accounts page for more options.

Compare savings accounts - page last updated September 19, 2020

Search promoted savings accounts below or do a full Mozo database search. Advertiser disclosure.

  • 3.00% p.a. (for $0 to $30,000)

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    Make 5 transactions/month on linked Westpac Choice account and min 1 deposit and higher balance than at the beginning of the month in Life savings account.

  • mozo-experts-choice-2020

    1.65% p.a. (for $0 to $250,000)

    0.15% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yesup to $250,000

    Bonus rate when at least $20 is deposited each month and five Visa Debit transactions are made each month using linked Everyday or Glide transaction accounts.

  • 1.15% p.a. (for $0 to $250,000)

    0.01% p.a.(for $0 to $5,000,000)

    Yesup to $250,000

    Minimum deposit of $200 and no withdrawals in the month.

  • 1.55% p.a. (for $0 to $250,000)

    0.10% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yesup to $250,000

    Ongoing bonus rate if you make at least four tap & go™ payments per month with your Everyday Transaction Account debit card. Purchases must be processed in calendar month to be eligible for bonus interest.


^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Savings Accounts Awards

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Tara McCabe
Tara McCabe
Money writer

Tara McCabe writes across all areas of personal finance here at Mozo from banking through to insurance. Tara is expert at practical money tips, showing readers ways to live richer and be socially conscious while doing it. She earned a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Canterbury Christ Church University.