For some Covid destroyed their businesses and livelihoods, for others it started something new and for us it taught us some very valuable lessons.
This is the story of how Covid kicked my husband and I’s butts and turned our finances around.
In 2018 we got married, so we spent much of 2019 celebrating by travelling overseas for the first time and spending frivolously. It was a fun time.
We had always been big on saving.
We had saved up our home deposit and bought our first home together at age 24. We didn’t and still don’t believe in credit cards or loans (other than a home loan) and bought all our cars outright amongst all the other big-ticket items that you need in daily life.
At this time in our lives (both 30), we thought we’d worked bloody hard. Time to enjoy life a little.
We had our wedding, travelled to Japan, then Thailand, and after that … a bit broke. No worries though, we’d just save and start again, right? Wrong.
After our travels we decided it was time to start a family and four months into my pregnancy in March 2020 – Covid happened.
At the time, I was working in the fitness industry and that got completely shut down. I no longer had an income. My husband was an essential worker, but the business had to cut back, and he lost some hours too.
We didn’t have much coming in, we had spent ALL our savings the year before and there were no emergency funds.
I was pregnant. My emotions were out of control. We were doomed.
During lockdown, we put our mortgage on hold. We still had bills, but we cut back where we could.
My work at the time told me to seek help from Centrelink.
Growing up poor in a housing commission home (I’m talking baked beans on toast or nothing to eat at all poor), I hated going to Centrelink with my parents. As a teenager I just wanted to work to save up and buy my own home. I wanted to live the Australian dream.
Yet, here I was, panicking, not wanting to apply for help. Others surely needed it more than us.
However, I was coming on eight months pregnant and would have to give up my very physical job soon anyway to take maternity leave. With my work not looking to open any time soon – I had no other option.
Among thousands of others claiming at the same time, it took four months for Centrelink to approve my claim.
The money helped a little, and my daughter was born in August 2020. Situation normal. Sort of. There would be no gifts for Christmas, but we had each other’s company.
I became obsessed with reading and watching shows about transforming your finances, saving money, money challenges and how to budget.
Amid nappies and formula and now three mouths to feed, I became obsessed.
I even went as far as cutting open the toothpaste tube to get every bit out, so we didn’t have to buy another one. Don’t worry, I’m a lot better today *twitch, twitch*.
I did learn some really great things – that we now use today.
We’ve set up multiple savings accounts, including an emergency fund.
I’m not talking about the ‘I’ve got no money for my morning coffee, and I need my fix’ type of emergency. This is the ‘the roof has blown off in a storm’ or the ‘fridge has exploded’ emergency.
Financial experts say emergency funds should have at least three months of wages in case something happens. Cough, cough, Covid.
The other accounts can be for specific things like holidays, medical treatments, and big bills (rates, electricity, gas etc). We now have five separate accounts for the things we are saving for.
Sounds simple, but many aren’t saving for a rainy day.
Instead of paying a big lump sum every quarter, we now pay off our big bills (rates, electricity, and gas) in smaller increments before they’re due.
And we started paying more into our mortgage.
There are so many other ways we learned to save and budget our money, all thanks to Covid.
What are some of the ways you save money? Let us know at [email protected].