There’s nothing like a global pandemic to scramble your savings plan. With so much uncertainty, we turned to the experts for their tips on weathering the storm – and coming out stronger on the other side.


From losing our jobs to sacrificing our ‘rainy day funds,’ the pandemic has impacted our finances in more ways than one. We are closely watching what little spare change we have, and while the new government support schemes are helpful, the information overload is adding to the confusion.

Grant Millar is a financial adviser, money coach and owner of Inspired Financial Planners. Here’s what he had to say about some of our top concerns.

You’ve been stood down. What do you do?
“First, it’s important to clarify what being ‘stood down’ means,” says Grant. “I would define this as the suspension of your employment arrangement with an employer – it’s not the same as having your employment terminated.”

If you’ve been stood down, Grant says you should immediately contact your employer to find out if you are eligible for JobKeeper, which is designed to assist employers with paying employees if their business has suffered a loss due to COVID-19.

If you don’t have a regular income or work, you should immediately apply for JobSeeker, says Grant, which is designed to help people get into work. This will provide you with an income while you seek paid employment.

As a temporary measure, the government has made adjustments to make it easier to obtain and for recipients to receive a higher amount of support than usual. You can read more about that right here.

“It’s worth mentioning that if you’re receiving a regular income, such as from JobKeeper or if your employer pays you a lump sum due to being ‘stood down’, not terminated, this is assessed at your marginal tax rate,” says Grant. “In other words, it’s taxed just like regular income.”

More information can be found here.

It’s worth contacting Centrelink to see what you are eligible for. Giving them a call is going to be fruitless thanks to the high demand of people seeking assistance, so go to my.gov.au, sign in or create an account and register your intent to claim the Coronavirus supplement and the JobSeeker payment, which is available for at least six months. You will be back paid from the date you registered your intent to claim, so make this a priority in order to replace your cash flow.

Nugget of wisdom: Whether or not you are receiving financial support, it is worth looking at your expenses and make sure you’re prioritising the essentials. Can you go without any non-essential items while you get back on your feet?

Should you switch your superannuation account from high growth to conservative?
“By switching to a more conservative option, after we’ve seen such massive losses already, you’re securing those losses with no further chance of recovery,” says Grant. “Remember: superannuation, for most people, is still a long-term investment and not something you’re going to see for quite a while. Even the multi-billion-dollar investment managers know not to ‘time the market’ (choose when to get in and out), as this most often leads to poorer overall outcomes.”

It’s important to remember that superannuation is a long-term asset. When we pick our superannuation growth portfolio, we’re not picking that for the short-term – it’s going to carry us through until retirement.

Grant’s general rule of thumb (though, it’s not universal and you should always seek personal financial advice from a licensed financial adviser) is: if you’ve still got 10 to 15+ years to invest, you’ve got time to see through the ups and downs and should stay invested. If you are closer to retirement or needing access to your super, you should seek advice.

“It would be remiss of me to say that any blanket approach is suitable, as everyone’s circumstances are different,” says Grant.

Nugget of wisdom: If your superannuation has decreased in value but you still feel like your growth portfolio aligns with your personal situation and risk profile, it’s important to think long and hard about why you’ve got superannuation in the first place.

Should you access $10,000 from your superannuation under the Australian Government’s ‘COVID-19 early release of super’ scheme?
If your hours have reduced by 20% or more, you can apply to receive up to $10,000 tax-free out of your super. But is this as appealing as it sounds?

“As your super is designed to provide you with an income in retirement, you ideally shouldn’t touch your super unless it’s absolutely necessary,” says Grant. “By withdrawing the money, you’re also crystallising the losses your fund has undoubtedly seen since the downturn in March, meaning if your investments perform well after you’ve pulled the money out, you won’t see any of those gains.

“That said, if the investments continue to fall, you’ve stopped yourself from further losses.”

As you’ve probably been told before, withdrawing your super now is going to have a significant impact on your balance when you retire. But what would that impact actually look like?

If you’re 35, taking $10,000 now is equivalent to taking $100,000 from future ‘you’, while if you’re 25, that looks more like $233,000. Yikes.

What’s more, the scheme stipulates that you are able to take $10,000 for the 2019-2020 financial year, and an additional $10,000 for the 2020-2021 financial year.

“If you do choose to withdraw from super, you should consider re-contributing to top it back up ASAP,” says Grant.

Nugget of wisdom: Your superannuation isn’t just a bank account full of cash you can spend – it’s an asset for your future.

NOTE: The information provided in this article should not be seen as personal financial advice. You should consider your circumstances and seek personal financial advice from a licensed financial adviser before making any decisions.


The recent global events have done a number on our savings, which isn’t necessarily a surprise – a 2019 survey found that most Australians would struggle to cover $1000 in an emergency. 

As we look to the future, we are keen to find out how to save better (and what we should be saving for). Thankfully, Paridhi Jain, founder of financial education company SkilledSmart, has some tips.

Have a strong, motivating goal
We all know we should be saving, but it helps to have something to save for. Maybe it’s a new car, an overseas holiday, or a plush emergency fund to help you feel more secure financially?

“A common mistake that people make is saving for the sake of saving, instead of saving towards a specific goal,” says Paridhi. “People who have a goal they really care about are much less likely to give up, and more likely to go above and beyond to achieve their goal.”

SkilledSmart student Henry Serfontein had a goal to help fund a contributory-parent visa for his mum to come to Australia. It cost a total of $50,000, and in less than nine months Henry saved $23,000 – almost half of his goal.

“Having that goal has given me a lot of focus and clarity, so I’m a lot more mindful of how I spend my money because I know that every dollar I spend is a dollar away from that goal,” says Henry.

To make more, or cut back: that is the question
“A lot of ‘saving advice’ focuses on cutting down expenses, and although this is important there is a limit to how much you can cut back,” says Paridhi. “If you cut back too much, you’ll start to feel deprived and it’s not always sustainable. Luckily, it’s never been easier to make some additional money on the side of your regular job!”

Paridhi herself tried this out in 2019 in an effort to save an extra $1000 in 30 days. She decluttered her home and turned to Facebook Marketplace to sell her second-hand stuff – within 30 days, she’d made $775. 

“It was a lot more fun than depriving myself of eating out!” says Paridhi. 

Paridhi’s experience is one of many – Gumtree’s 2019 Second Hand Economy Report found that the average Aussie household could stand to make $5,300 by selling unwanted goods in their home. 

Watch the ‘little stuff’ that adds up over time
“As annoying and cliché as it sounds, the little stuff does add up over time,” says Paridhi. “It’s really important to be mindful about the spending habits you’re developing. There’s a difference between buying something as a one-off purchase and developing a ‘habit’ of buying that thing on a regular basis.”

28-year-old SkilledSmart student Sara Dominguez went from having no savings to becoming a serious saver, saving up $17,000 to fund a trip for herself and her partner to Europe. She says the key was being ruthless with the little things. 

“When we went to Europe, I even packed muesli bars and snacks so that we didn’t have to eat out all the time,” says Sara. “I always hunt for discounts and bargains and watch my dollars very carefully because the little things add up.”

NOTE: The information provided in this article should not be seen as personal financial advice. You should consider your circumstances and seek personal financial advice from a licensed financial adviser before making any decisions.

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