How to Live on Less During the COVID-19 Crisis

About a 5 minute read

By: Donna Freedman

Learn ways to cut costs if you’ve lost your job or are facing other financial difficulties.

In the face of job losses, school closings and other disruptions wrought by COVID-19, millions of Australians are staying home and wondering whether their lives will ever be the same.

No one knows how long this disruption will last. But if your household has lost some or all its income, it may feel like forever. These simple tactics can help you stay solvent through the crisis.

Examine payment options
If you have lost your job you may be able to change the way you pay your regular bills. For example;

If you have a mortgage, talk to your lender as some banks are offering 6-month repayment deferrals on mortgages for customers impacted by coronavirus. If you think you’ll have trouble paying your rent, talk to your landlord or real estate agent about reducing or deferring payments.

Keep in mind that Moneysmart offers financial guidance for all Australians and has a lot of information on their website designed to help people who are living on a reduced income due to Covid-19. It is worth taking the time to look at

Add up your assets
Next, it’s time to tally up your available resources. If you’ve been laid off you may be eligible for COVID-19 financial assistance from the Government so it is worth checking what financial supports may be available to you. Centrelink is experiencing high volumes of calls so a good place to start is to review what Coronavirus (Covid-19) supports and payments are available by visiting to review the eligibility rules and instructions on how to claim.

Once you’ve explored potential government assistance, make a list of your household’s cash resources, such as a savings account and/or emergency fund. And don’t forget smaller sources of funds.

For example, you can add up points from rewards credit cards or programs and plan the best ways to use these points. You might opt to redeem rewards card points to put towards buying groceries or fuel for example.

Another potential money source is refunds from things you prepaid but now can’t use, such as a plane trip, a hotel reservation or sports tickets. It is worth checking what refunds you may be entitled to.

Stretch your existing budget
Once you know about how much money you’ll have, start looking for ways to make it last. Some of your work-related expenses might already have decreased, such as wardrobe and transportation. You’re likely spending a lot less—or maybe nothing—on work clothes, office lunches, petrol or public transport. You may be able to cut other ongoing expenses, like these:

Consider pausing or eliminating subscription services. Australians spend large amounts on things like movie, music and book subscriptions.. People tend to greatly underestimate the true cost, according to a 2019 survey from consulting firm West Monroe Partners—or even flat-out forget they’re paying for them. They’re often slow to cancel, even if the items no longer provide much value.

So, take an hour to scan your credit card and bank statements to look for places to cut save some money. You don’t have to slash everything, but think about how often you use a service and whether it’s worth the expenditure.

Get media for less. If you need a way to pass the time but are low on funds, look into ways to obtain entertainment for free. For example, instead of buying lots of extra books during this challenging time, visit your local library’s website to learn about borrowing e-books or audiobooks.

Or, if you have only basic TV service or plan to drop streaming due to the price, know that you can stream some programs and movies legally at no cost. Free internet TV service Services like Tenplay, iview and SBS on demand may give you good viewing options.

Make your own cleaning products. For many Australians, cleaning supplies are particularly difficult to find right now—and if you manage to hunt them down, you might end up paying a premium. So, try some DIY.

Baking soda is a good substitute for cleansers like Ajax. Vinegar and water in a spray bottle makes a fine all-purpose cleaner (the smell goes away—honest!).. Be creative in the kitchen. Just a bit of basic cooking can save you a bundle. Don’t know how? Do a search like “easy recipes for non-cooks” and get going. Incidentally, certain pricey items such as iced tea, baby food, pizza, hummus, spice mixes, baking mixes and salad dressing cost much, much less when you make them yourself.

Beware of price-gouging
Some sellers are taking advantage of the pandemic to drive their profits up by offering items for sale at outrageous prices. This is usually pretty easy to spot, but if you’re not sure it may be good to Google what an item should cost. Ultimately, while we don’t know how the economy will shake out, we can try to mitigate our losses through smart planning and accessing available resources.

The sooner you begin, the better off you’ll likely be in the long run.

Colorado Springs Utilities. “Budget Billing.”
U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid. “Coronavirus and Forbearance Info for Students, Borrowers, and Parents.”
U.S. Department of Labor. “U.S. Department of Labor Announces New Cares Act Guidance on Unemployment Insurance for States in Response to COVID-19 Crisis.” April 2, 2020. “COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic.”
Ticketmaster. “Information Regarding the Cancellation and Rescheduling of Live Events.” March 12, 2020.
Airbnb. “Extenuating circumstances policy and the coronavirus (COVID-19).” Updated April 9, 2020.
U.S. Department of Transportation. “U.S. Department of Transportation Issues Enforcement Notice Clarifying Air Carrier Refund Requirements, Given the Impact of COVID-19.” April 3, 2020.
WestMonroe. “America’s Relationship with Subscription Services.”
James K. Willcox. “Guide to Free Streaming Video Services.” Consumer Reports. March 27, 2020.
Gabrielle Russon. “Florida fights coronavirus price gouging: 10-pack of toilet paper for $90 and $90 to ship it.” Orlando Sentinel. April 6, 2020.
Covid_19 living on a reduced income. Retrieved from.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) support and payments. Retrieved from.

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