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How to prepare yourself for a potential job loss

  • July 14 2020
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How to prepare yourself for a potential job loss

By Cameron Micallef
July 14 2020

Australians are being advised to prepare for potential job losses as the fallout from the COVID-19 continues to hurt businesses.

potential job loss

How to prepare yourself for a potential job loss

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  • July 14 2020
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Australians are being advised to prepare for potential job losses as the fallout from the COVID-19 continues to hurt businesses.

potential job loss

The economic slowdown has already seen the official unemployment rate rise to 7.1 per cent, resulting in more than 2.4 million Australians relying on their superannuation to get by.

The current economic climate has also seen 429,000 mortgagors take a mortgage holiday, while a further 1 million Australians are now relying on government benefits.

Licensed financial adviser Helen Baker says: “Consumers are struggling financially, with many experiencing concern for their job security and the impact this would have on meeting their debt repayments and bill payments.”

Ms Baker said the economy can change based on health outcomes, using Melbourne as an example. 

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“Melbournians may be left in a particularly vulnerable state now given the second wave of COVID-19 forcing businesses to shut down again. When JobKeeper payments end in September, it’s likely that we’ll see even further layoffs, so those lucky enough to have held onto work during the height of the pandemic may find their circumstances change,” Ms Baker explained.

She highlighted that Australians who are worried about the financial implications of COVID-19 should act now. 

“Aussies should get on top of their finances now to prepare for a risk in loss of income. This could include finding ways to pay down debts faster, building an emergency fund, and creating a second income stream,” she said.

Ms Baker has prepared eight tips for your finances in case of job loss:

1. Consolidate your debts. It’s important to pay down your debt as quickly as possible while you still have a steady income. If you can, consolidate your credit card debt and personal loan into your mortgage by refinancing your mortgage. 

2. Negotiate interest rates, or move your debts to lower-rate products. While you can consolidate your credit card debt into your home loan, another idea is to transfer your card debt balance to a new zero-interest balance transfer credit card. Be aware of the interest-free term, usually six months, after which your interest will return to the full rate. With regards to home loans, for the first time, rates have fallen to below 2 per cent. Now is a good time to refinance and save on interest payments. 

3. Create a six-month emergency fund. In a normal economy, Ms Baker recommends that households save an emergency buffer of three months’ worth of expenses in the event of a job loss, as it generally takes three months to find a new job. In the COVID-19 environment, in which job listings have fallen significantly, consider saving at least six months’ worth of income. You can build up the buffer by reducing your spending to essential items and services, withdrawing superannuation early, or finding a second source of income. If you are made redundant, the redundancy package can make a sizeable contribution to this buffer, as can your FY20 tax return.

4. Generate a second income stream. If you aren’t working long hours in your existing job, consider setting up a second income stream. This could be a casual job or self-employed work such as tutoring or Uber driving. Alternatively, you could list a spare room, spare garage, parking space, or seldom-used car on share platforms such as Airbnb, DriveMyCar or Parkhound to generate ongoing income. If you have kids of working age, discuss as a family how you can work together to increase the household income. Have unused items lying around the house? Offload anything you’re no longer using by listing it on platforms such as Gumtree, eBay or Facebook Marketplace, or at street markets.

5. Consider a reduction in hours over a redundancy package. If your company is starting to discuss a decrease in working hours and redundancies, and offer you a choice, it might be better to have your hours reduced. The former option could see you become eligible for JobKeeper payments and you may have a job to go back to after the “stand-down” period.

6. Consider looking for work while you’re still employed. If you think it’s fairly likely that you’ll lose your job, start applying for new jobs now – particularly in industries that are booming. Employers often look upon employed applicants more favourably. Search for roles outside of job portals and consider networking online through LinkedIn and joining online business events and groups to find suitable positions.

7. Get a realistic picture of your spending v income. Review all your expenses using a budget spreadsheet that allows you to see all your incoming and outgoing expenses. Following this, create a spending plan and separate it into your three budget areas: “your absolute basics”, “nice to haves”, and “living the dream” – the latter representing your goal once you’re back on your feet. Analyse what the bare minimum is that you can live off, then put the rest away into your savings.

8. Use your annual leave – slowly. Consider using some of your annual leave – or long-service leave, if applicable – now, as you could be at risk of losing some of your leave if your employer goes into insolvency. Rather than taking a long stretch of leave, consider taking off one day a week or fortnight. If your employer is in the unfortunate position of having to decide who they will stand down temporarily, remaining in the workplace and showing your value might help you retain your role. 

How to prepare yourself for a potential job loss
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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