Did you know that the government’s JobKeeper and JobSeeker Coronavirus Supplement payments are due to stop at the end of March? This may be unwelcome news if you’re struggling with debt and the financial fallout of COVID-19 and have been relying on the support to get by.
If these payments have become a crucial part of your weekly or monthly household budget, now’s the time to revisit your incomings and outgoings to ensure you have enough to cover the essentials and the little extras in life.
When do JobKeeper and JobSeeker wrap up?
The dates for the end of JobKeeper and JobSeeker are as follows:
- JobKeeper payments end date: 28 March 2021
- JobSeeker Coronavirus Supplement end date: 31 March 2021
The wrapping up of these two emergency support measures isn’t an all or nothing transition. Since they were first introduced on 30 March 2020, JobKeeper payments and the JobSeeker Coronavirus supplement have been steadily declining.
JobKeeper payments have gone from $1,500 when they were first introduced in March 2020 to $1,000 (Tier 1) and $650 (Tier 2) in Extension Two of the support. Likewise, the Coronavirus supplement has dropped from $550 to $150.
This steady decline means that you may have already had to readjust your budget several times to accommodate reduced payments. If you’re struggling to manage, now’s the perfect time to get planning and get ahead.
The beauty of cash calculators
A good place to start when budgeting your income without JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments is using an online budgeting calculator or tool. These can help you to work out exactly how much you spend over the course of the year.
By considering your income and your spending (outgoings), including your household costs, personal spend, debts, insurance and more, they can help you figure out how much you need to put aside each month, as well as what’s leftover.
If the balance is bleak and your outgoings overtake your income, and/or you have significant debt spread across a mortgage, car loans, personal loans and/or credit cards, you can also use calculator tools to help you figure out how much each is costing you.
The sooner you budget, the better
While it can be tempting to turn a blind eye to an ‘unfavourable’ financial situation, ignoring the reality will only worsen your money woes. Worst-case scenario, if debts are left unchecked, creditors will start chasing you for repayments and may begin legal proceedings against you.
Simple ways to cut back before the support stops
If you’re likely to be hard, or even partially, hit when the JobKeeper scheme and JobSeeker Coronavirus Supplement payments wrap up at the end of March, as well as doing some immediate budget planning, here are some simple money saving and budgeting ideas:
- Smooth your household bills – This means requesting to pay your bills in smaller, more manageable amounts, either weekly or fortnightly, instead of all in one go. This can help you budget better.
- Refinance your mortgage – With interest rates starting from 2 per cent, now could be a wise time to get a new home loan. The current low rate and the fact that you have predictable payments each month makes fixed a desirable choice.
- Shop around – From your insurance to your bills and subscriptions, don’t just stick to one provider because you always have. By seeing what offers are available in the market and shopping around, you can make impactful savings.
- Consolidate your debts – If you’ve got multiple credit cards with bulging limits as well as personal loans, it can be hard to keep track and manage all the payments. Consolidating your loans right now will make things much easier and reduce your interest rates.
- Make smarter meal plans – Household groceries can eat into a huge portion of your income. It's incredible what you can save with some intelligent meal planning and a move to lower-priced brands.
- Resist impulse buying – When you see something you want, don’t just whip out the credit card and buy it straight away. Give yourself a 24-hour cooling off or consideration period. You’ll be surprised how the urge dulls.
You still have time to prepare for the income drop
If the prospect of losing your JobKeeper or JobSeeker Coronavirus Supplement support is giving you cause for concern, don’t panic. By taking a good hard look at your finances and getting on top of your budgeting, you could make things work. Plus, you can create some good money habits in the process.