The South African Supplier Diversity Council (SASDC) compiled some personal finance tips that will be applicable during the COVID 19 lockdown period; herewith some considerations:

You may have spent your personal income 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 drastically change. 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.

  1. CANCEL ALL NON-ESSENTIAL EXPENSES, BUT UNDERSTAND THE DETAIL
  • 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.
  • Draw up an emergency budget; this is different from emergency savings. While it’s too late to save for this emergency, it is not too late to create an emergency budget based on your reduced level of income. Download a budget template and start outlining all of your expenses.
  • Start with the most important expenses, which include your housing, medical costs, and reasonable and customary amounts for food and transportation.
  • Keep in mind that due to self-isolation, many of your expenses will be less or different than before the crisis hit. Expenses that will likely be significantly less than before include entertainment, recreation, day-care, eating out, extra vehicle insurance, parking, fuel, transit passes and personal expenses. Any that come with monthly dues, e.g., gym membership, contact those companies and ask them to put your monthly fees on hold. Save on groceries by cleaning out your fridge, freezer and pantry before shopping for more.
  • Include all of your family members in the discussion about how to reduce costs. You and your kids and teens may not fully appreciate how much your household is spending on buying non-essential items.
  1. COMMUNICATE WITH CREDITORS WHEN YOU CAN'T PAY
  • If the pandemic and resulting lockdown has had a drastic impact on your source of income, 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. 
  1. 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 hair stylist.
  • 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. STAY CALM
  • 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. 
  1. BE WARY OF INFORMATION FATIGUE
  • Stay informed, but take breaks. There is only so much you can digest at any given time.
  • During times of crisis, it is important not to get to a point where you tune out all of the news and miss things you need to know about.
  • Avoid social media if you have to and look for good news stories to balance out the bad.
  1. PROTECT YOUR MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELL BEING
  • When it feels like the world is spinning out of control, stop yourself. Focus on what you cancontrol and what you can do, rather than on what you can’t control or what isn’t possible to do right now.
  • Spend time preparing healthy food and getting exercise outside. Avoid excess alcohol, sugary food and drinks, and a steady stream of caffeine because they can cause agitation.
  • Connect with friends and loved ones by video chat to keep everyone feeling connected. Social distancing shouldn’t lead to social isolation and loneliness. Check in with elderly parents or neighbours who may have trouble getting the basics they need. They are also particularly vulnerable to scams, so learn how to stay vigilant and protect yourself and others.
  • If you’re feeling well while in self isolation, look around your home and tackle sorting or clean-up projects you normally don’t have time for. Sit with your kids and enjoy looking at digital photos on all of your devices as you sort them into a central file for safekeeping. Fix broken items, take a free online course, camp in your living room, and just enjoy hanging out with those you love most.
  1. BOTTOM LINE – MANAGING A FINANCIAL CRISIS LIKE COVID 19
  • When it comes to surviving a financial crisis, there is no shame in asking for help, leaning on those you trust, and helping others as best you can. And the coronavirus (COVID-19) is a bigger crisis than most of the world has dealt with in a very long time.
  • We are all in this together — individuals, families, communities, businesses big and small, and all levels of the health-care system and government.
  • Sticking together and helping each other out is really the only way we’ll overcome it successfully.