It's easy to look at all the things that are going wrong during a pandemic and want to drown yourself in some online retail therapy or a supersize order from Super Liquor, but try your best not to go there.
While it's understandable to feel helpless, hopeless and paralysed to do anything other than binge watch Netflix, Neon or both, being under house arrest also has some advantages.
Spending more time with loved ones, being forced to confront those unwanted but satisfying household tasks like cleaning the garage or closet are obvious ones.
Assuming Covid-19 has not killed off your income, you'll also find this is an excellent time to get your financial act together and save some money too.
All up (factoring in the ferry, bus and car use), takeaways, dining out, and the odd retail splurge, I'm saving at least $600-800 a month. It's only been two weeks in lockdown so far, so I expect I'll be at $1,000, but the time we're out of Level 4.
I'm already a queen of automation, but I'm reviewing my savings allocations into my investments and my son's KiwiSaver accounts. I'm sure they'll appreciate my efforts one day!
Here are some simple steps you can do as well to take advantage of your lockdown savings and or the extra time you have on your hands.
1) Review your overall financial position adding up your debts, savings, and assets.
2) If there is any scope for doing so, consider paying down outstanding debt by upping your contributions or through a lump sum payment, assuming you don't get penalised for it.
3) Look at what your KiwiSaver contribution settings are (3%, 4%, 6%, 8% or 10%) and find out how much you're on track to save by age 65. TIP, You can find this figure on your annual KiwiSaver statement as they include that projection now among the data breakdown.
4) If your KiwiSaver is looking good (i.e. you're in the right fund for your circumstances, making decent returns and not overpaying your fund manager, consider opening up an investment fund. There are numerous investment platforms to get started. Look for one that has low fees that have good UX, with good investment options. Make sure you understand what you're investing in and, notably, whether you can afford it. If you're confused with all the options, check out MoneyHub's comparison site.
5) Plan. If you don't know where you're going, you're not likely to make much progress. Take this time to reflect on your broader goals, why you want to achieve them and what you need to do to get there. It's easy to muddle along in life without having firm, fixed plans, but this is not a good strategy for finances.
Be ambitious but realistic about what you hope to achieve. If you need support, ask for it.
In this digital era, there are more resources than you can imagine. Don't use time or lack of knowledge as an excuse not to take the first step toward improving your financial nous.
Have confidence and enjoy the process. Growing your wealth is a multi-faceted endeavour. It's bigger than your KiwiSaver or your investment account. It's daily spending, self-development, education, attitude and concrete actions all working together in harmony.
Visit amandamorrall.com for more tips on wealth, abundance and happiness.
Amanda Morrall is a New Zealand based personal finance expert. Her first book Money Matters was published in 2013 by Penguin Random House in NZ.