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March 18, 2020

CityMag’s 10-step financial health check: What to cut and what to spend on right now

Use any extra time at home to wade into the pesky life admin tasks you’ve been putting off. Use our list of what to cut and what to spend on right now to feel more in control of your financial security during this time of uncertainty.

  • Words: Josh Fanning
  • Picture: Russell Knight


A press release dropped into the CityMag inbox on Monday saying 1-in-10 Australians are feeling financially insecure as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

We reckon they might not have interviewed our network of freelance creatives, hospitality workers, and small business owner-operators, where it’s more like 11-in-10.

But deep-breathing exercises aside, we all need to be putting on our stoic caps right now and start doing the unthinkable – paperwork.

With the potential for less social time with friends and colleagues, and the likes of Schwarzenegger spruiking self-isolation at home, we feel it’s incumbent upon all of us to phone up some dud financial relationships we have and cut them loose.

Here’s seven things to cut and three things to add to your personal balance sheet right now.



Audit that gym subscription you’re not using
A moist machine, freshly unoccupied by The Hulk, is about as appealing a situation during a pandemic as sharing a facial tissue in Florence right now. Call and cancel the membership to that big multi-national-employs-no-one gym right now. If you, like us, belong to a smaller fitness club, then call and discuss with your coach how you can stay fit at home alone, whether you can borrow some simple equipment for the duration of any stay-at-home notice from the Government, and whether they might consider coaching via Facebook Live. Alternatives to sweating in close proximity to others include FREE nature hikes (Burnside Walks are excellent), or run up some real stairs and do some push ups, yeah?

Cancel at least one of the four streaming services you’ve signed up for over the last three years
Keep your trusted one(s), but you know if your heart-of-heart that one of them is done. Netflix also offers opt-out-anytime terms, so it won’t sting you as you leave, but that also makes us like them a lot. And also our mum has just started watching The Crown. Culling a paid streaming service gives you a good chance to explore this country’s excellent creators of free-to-air content, such as SBS on Demand and ABC iView. Perhaps with SBS and ABC you can even cancel your favourite streaming service for the short term?

Consolidate credit card clutter
There are some people who dance a beautiful ballet with multiple cards, and yet there are others who suffer from credit clutter. Every financial adviser would be happier with you if you consolidated your debt and took this time now to identify a better interest or interest-free rate on your consumer spending. Here’s a list of top 10 credit card balance transfers available in Australia we found without stretching ourselves.

Consolidate superannuation 
Having your super in a few places isn’t just messier, it can cost you more and create existential angst as you realise that life insurance premium is whittling away the $1,200 worth of super sitting in that account your employer from three years ago opened up on your behalf. Australians have over $17 billion in lost and unclaimed super savings. Do you have lost super? Do you not know? Maybe you could switch all your shitty super to what Scott Pape says is Australia’s best performing superannuation operator?

Refinance your mortgage
Scott Pape says that if you’re paying more than three per cent on your home loan, you should refinance. Interest rates are at record lows right now, but more than refinance, we should all use this particular pandemic to take a look at how we bank our bucks and reconsider how we save and spend, and who you do it with. Credit Unions are a great alternative to banks. Credit Union SA was created when the Teachers’ and Energy Workers’ credit unions merged and they are still owned by their members – rather than shareholders. Credit Union SA do a bunch of good things for the community and they also focus their energies into local schools – which is nice.



Invest in things that grow free with water and sunshine
Having a chat with our favourite chef, Marco Furlan at LaLaLa last night, he had a lot of sage advice (we should all be listening to the Italians and Greeks in our lives right now). Among many good ideas of what we can do with our looming, potentially mandatory time at home is “invest in heirloom seeds from the Botanic gardens,” says Marco. “Buy things that grow in winter, things that are easy to grow, too – like fennel and broccoli. You need 30cm of soil and you can grow anything. “Take the time to actually watch something come to life that will feed you. How excellent is that?” Marco’s 10 tips for the kitchen are good at a time like this too.

Invest in things that collect free resources like solar, battery storage and water tanks
With talk of stimulus down the line, why not put that cash towards something that makes you feel more resilient? Rain water is delicious and can always be used to water a garden and save you money in the future.

Invest in community
CityMag has been buoyed by the sincere and genuine messages of care we’ve received from friends and collaborators. We are launching Caremongering as a concept in Adelaide for you to use either yourself on social media or with us. Use this time to reflect on your personal support network. Forge closer, more organised relationships with peers and friends and why not make a conscious effort to build a support system not based on transactions. This could start with a simple letter to the people on your street that lets them know about any surplus supplies you might have and what you’re willing to donate to anyone who asks (we see this as a chance for loo-paper hoarders to redeem themselves especially – but recognise these types of people area also unlikely to read CityMag).

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