Blog: Supporting your clients to stay on top of their bills during COVID-19
Budgeting isn’t always an easy task. The arrival of unexpected bills or emergency expenses can sometimes throw a curve ball at financial planning.
In this blog we’ve taken a look at some simple money management strategies to prevent panic setting in when the unexpected happens.
Take a broad look at overall expenses – what can go right away?
It’s a good idea to scan through a recent bank statement and identify anything that is not essential or can wait. Suspending non-essential memberships, subscriptions and reducing expenditure on takeaway food or drink are some areas where quick savings can be made.
Start bargain hunting
Utility bills are a good place to start. Can some existing deals be renegotiated or your plans adjusted?
Energy deals are an important one to keep on top of. To maintain the best market price, talk to retailers to see if any improvement is possible on a plan.
Assistance is available for clients having trouble paying energy bills. Find out more in the cost of living section.
Have a look at grocery expenditure. Can it be lowered? Planning meals in advance and taking advantage of any bargains during weekly grocery shopping can save lots of money. Cooking meals like soup, pasta dishes, etc, that leave leftovers can be frozen to be used another day.
If your client is experiencing a crisis or unable to put food on the table, look for assistance at the emergency relief page.
Request financial hardship for bills
If your client is having difficulties paying bills, support them to call their provider straight away and explain the situation. In many cases a deferment, installment plan or extension can be attained. They might be eligible for a utility rebate or voucher.
With credit cards or loans it is important to try to make the minimum payments each month if they can. Failing that, suggest they get in touch with the bank’s hardship team as they may be able to assist them with a temporary period of reduced interest or payments.
The National Debt Hotline explains how to negotiate payment terms.
For more tips read our COVID-19 FAQs.
Request mortgage or rent relief
Rent or mortgage payment relief is available for those that are struggling to keep up.
Some banks are offering mortgage payment deferrals of up to six months. Here is a list of hardship contact details for banks across Australia.
The Queensland Government is advising tenants to work with agents and landlords on rental reductions or defferals in individual cases of hardship. If those negotiations stall or some other issue is encountered, contact Tenants Queensland on 1300 744 263 for advice or look into Queensland Government rental grants.
Get financial assistance from Centrelink
Your client may be eligible for some assistance from the government due to loss of income. There are extra income and household support payments for people affected by COVID-19:
- a temporary fortnightly $550 coronavirus supplement from 27 April 2020 if you’re getting an eligible payment
- expanded eligibility for some payments to make them easier to claim
- a crisis payment if you need to self-isolate, are in severe financial hardship and you can get an income support payment
- two automatic $750 Economic Support Payments
Visit Services Australia for more information on payments and services for those impacted by COVID-19.
The Australian Government is providing fortnightly payments of $1,500 before tax to employers so they can keep paying eligible employees with the JobKeeper Payment. Self-employed individuals can also apply for the JobKeeper Payment. Visit the Treasury website for more information.
For the latest updates, resources and information visit the COVID-19 section.