5 Tips to manage banking and personal finances during COVID-19
Take care of your banking and your budgeting during the lockdown and beyond.
As South Africa is in lockdown to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, we all face several worries, including whether they will be able to pay expenses or debit orders, and how they will access financial services.
We’ve compiled some pointers to help ease your concerns so that you can take control of your banking and budgeting needs.
1. KNOW YOUR EXPENSES
Now is the time to get a clear view of your monthly expenses and spending habits and how these may need to change.
Create a new, adjusted budget that factors in your current situation
- Previously, you may have spent your earnings according to the ’50-30-20 budgeting rule’, where 50% of your monthly income went to car repayments, home loans or rent, and monthly groceries, 30% to entertainment, trips to the salon and eating out, while 20% of your salary may be spent on debt payments, petrol and savings.
- But as all non-essential shops close and your movement is restricted, your spending habits will have drastically changed. You may need to factor in buying more groceries than you normally would for the week or month while the entire family is home-based.
Cancel all non-essential expenses
- Take a look at debit orders and auto-renewing subscriptions you may have and assess whether there are any non-essential expenses you will be able to cut back on.
- Make sure to check the T&Cs to check for any cancellation clauses or penalties before you hit pause.
2. COMMUNICATE WITH CREDITORS WHEN YOU CAN’T PAY
If the pandemic and resulting lockdown has had a drastic impact on your salary or resulted in a job loss, you may be worrying about how you can pay your bills, including your home loan and credit card repayments. You may even have to prioritise which bills you can pay and which obligations you may not be able to meet.
Contact your creditors first to make a payment arrangement
- If you’re worried that you may not be able to pay some bills, like your credit card payment as an example, then contact the provider, instead of simply not paying.
- Communicate with them to see if they can adjust your repayment plan.
3. SAVE WHERE YOU CAN
As your spending habits change during this time, you will probably be cutting back in areas, like entertainment for the kids, clothes shopping or visiting the hairstylist.
Take the amount that you would normally spend on these activities and place it in a savings account. This will not only provide you with a buffer during these uncertain times but can also help to build up emergency savings.
4. CONTINUE BANKING WITH DIGITAL BANKING
Although essential financial services will be open, such as Standard Bank branches and ATMs, it is best to limit your exposure to the Coronavirus. Instead of visiting a physical branch, or an ATM, you could access banking services via any of digital banking solutions.
Self-service banking offers three simple and convenient channels:
- Cellphone banking
- Internet banking
- Banking app
5. BE VIGILANT AT ALL TIMES
During trying times, criminals take advantage of the chaos and confusion, often using scare tactics to fool you into sharing sensitive information.
Take action to protect your personal data and avoid becoming a victim of cyber-attacks or phishing scams.
Here are some steps you can take to secure your personal bank accounts:
- Never disclose security details (such as your PIN or full password)
- Don’t assume a text, phone call or email claiming to be from your bank is genuine. If you’re not sure, contact your Banker directly.
- Create secure passwords that contain a combination of letters, numbers and characters
- Never give your PIN to anybody via telephone, e-mail or messenger
- Don’t use public computers to do your online banking
- Always make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date.
Remember, that this pandemic will pass and it is important not to panic during these tough times. Panicking may lead to rash financial decisions, which could have an impact on your finances later down the line.
If you need advice with regards to your finances and debt payments contact one of our consultants for assistance. If you are concerned that you might not be able to meet your debt repayments debt counselling could be the help you need.