Well, in November I said that Step Four was coming soon but I wouldn’t really count five months as soon.
Things have definitely changed though since November. We’re currently in the middle of a global pandemic. I know people are sick of hearing about it, but we can’t ignore or avoid it. It’s something that I think we’ll be living in the shadow of for a little while longer yet.
A lot of Australians have lost their jobs, or had changes to their jobs that have impacted what they’re being paid. This is where people would say “This is what your 3-6 month emergency fund is for!”, which is all well and good if you’ve got your emergency fund all set up. If you’re not at that point where you’ve established a sufficient emergency fund, it can be an extra stressful time to have lost a job or to have had to reduce hours. The emergency fund was the last step we talked about on here, and it’s the step that my husband and I are up to as far as being as prepared as well as possible with our finances. We’re still at step three, and are still working on building that up as much as possible. We are lucky that we haven’t had to dip into our emergency fund as we’ve both been able to continue working to a level that is covering our general expenses.
But one thing I’ve been thinking about is, how do we budget in a pandemic?
When things have changed so quickly and when there is no timeframe on when “normal” might return.
Here are a couple of things I’ve done:
- Re-evaluate what is an essential expense
You might be over-budgeting now for fuel as we’re not driving around as much anymore so this may be an expense you can adjust slightly, or you might have had a work expense that isn’t required anymore if you’re working from home or not at all.
Also, having Netflix, Stan, Disney+ AND Amazon Prime aren’t all essential as much as we wish they were (lol).
- Re-evaluate financial goals, and adjust them if needed
It’s okay to adjust what your goals are, financial or otherwise. We were planning to head to New Zealand this year for a holiday, but that’s just not a reality now so we have adjusted that accordingly and can focus the money we would have been setting aside to another area of our budget.
- Budget basing off worst-case scenario
If you’re still working, base your budget around what you’re currently being paid instead of what you maybe were being paid. If you’re currently (hopefully temporarily) on Centrelink or benefit payments, find out what the minimum you may be eligible for is and work off that.
- Don’t panic!
This has been, and will always be, my Dad’s #1 rule in our family. Or if you’d like the advice from my 7 year old nephew – “Don’t Stress. Do. Not. Stress”. This is just a season and it won’t last forever, but we still need to be wise with our money and wise in our choices.
These are just a few things I’ve done as things have changed for us over the past 6/7 weeks.
Remember that small changes can make big differences.
If you’re after a little more specific help with budgeting at this time, please let me know. I’d love to help you and ease some of the stress or pressure you may be feeling. I also appreciate that some of us aren’t just struggling with the changes financially, but mentally and emotionally this pandemic has been tough too. Again, please reach out, chat to someone you trust, or call one of the great services available to us (details below).
In the wise-words of the Ben Lee (or High School Musical depending on your vibe), we’re all in this together.