Never in our past have we all had so much uncertainty. The world is collectively and separately negotiating one of the toughest times. Each of us is also uncovering our own attitudes towards the situation – our own COVID-tude (attitude towards this crisis). People, and businesses, are in various states of stress, grief, uncertainty and fear. The speed of change has been phenomenal.
As Governments move towards re-opening we are changing the shape of our questions from ‘what’ (is going on) to questions of ‘how’ (to cope/find a way forward).
Let’s go back to when things appeared more predictable. You know, just before March! We had (somewhat) made it through a natural disaster that made us feel like a community. We were generous, supporting other Australian’s doing it tough.
Then KAPOW. We were in COVID-land and everything was swiftly tipped upside down.
Uncertainty of the things we took for granted – like regular income, clients, school, cafes and bars, our health. Those overseas nations that we dreamt of visiting, where friends and relatives lived, became ‘ground zero’. Overnight money became an omnipresent thought. Government announcements were made daily, things felt conflicting and packages of support were launched without all the required infrastructure to support them. Brave and bold moves. We certainly needed it.
All this COVID stuff was happening, yet we still had all the same money worries as before – with a whole lot of new ones – and everything became amplified. Money anxiety on high speed. People and loved ones out of work, businesses struggling to stay alive. The need to think like the government with big and bold moves – without the resources to match. Pivot, change, adapt – personally and professionally.
The reality right now is that some of us are doing it tough. And many are doing it tougher. During the previous economic downturn, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/09 we learned a lot about what helps people make it through these tough times. In running financial wellbeing programs for Australia’s corporates over the last 15 years, we have learned that demographic factors (age, stage of life, income) have nothing to do with the way people cope in times like this, or indeed how they make it through. Your attitude to money – your Spenditude – is the key and in a crisis like this, we need to also consider our COVID-tude.
- Perhaps you are someone that tends to spend their way out of a crisis? Do you need to take stock and control your urge to spend?
- Does your desire for financial security lead you to make decisions with fear? Is your COVID-tude taking over? Take back the control.
- Do you need to bring more awareness to your financial position – to know where you stand, find the changes and savings?
Well, when it comes to our attitude to money, this crisis could be a way to actually find ‘a better normal’. How? By building your Defender skills, learning from Defenders, taking on some of their habits.
Defenders are the ones that ‘have a plan and track every cent’. They are the opposite end of the scale to the ‘spend your way through the crisis’ types. In the middle are our Slenders (the majority of the population) who felt somewhat worried and vulnerable before the crisis and now have those feelings amplified.
No matter your spenditude, now is the time to implement a defenders value lens. Don’t waste money, practice delayed gratification, think and be mindful before any decision. Do not let your fear and uncertainty be your driver. Take control. Limit your exposure to media if the fear and uncertainty is impacting you. A calm and thoughtful approach in an environment of profound change and uncertainty is more important than ever.
Adopt a Defender mindset. Change your COVID-tude.
- Bring awareness to your Spenditude. Be honest. Awareness is the baseline for change.
- Know your financial position. Your expenses have likely changed and shifted significantly in the current environment. Find the savings (it may bring some clarity and calm). Track everything – money in and money out. In an almost cashless society use an app or your bank – know where your money is moving so you can control it.
- While you are assessing, assess your Partner/loved ones’ attitude(s) to money. You need to talk and have a plan to get through this time (particularly if you are opposites!) Support each other and use this time to find common Spenditude.
- Sleep. Get some. There is a direct link between sleep, poor decision making and over spending. So pay more attention to getting some. (Check out chapter 2 of Spenditude).
- Understand EVERY entitlement you can access. Check out the government resources at treasury.gov.au. Defenders leave nothing on the table.
- Fine tune bigger expenses. ASK your provider for assistance. They won’t know you need help unless you ask.
- Protect those you love. Update your Will and insurances.
- Spend intentionally. Stop, be mindful, support small and local businesses.
- Identify Defenders and talk to them. They will share if you ASK them what they are doing.
If you are experiencing difficulties, seek support. The Debt Helpline (ndh.org.au / 1800 007 007) is a free service and Beyond Blue (beyondblue.org.au) has resources that are specifically designed around this pandemic.
Finally, make a plan. Write a checklist. Stick it on the fridge. Change your COVID-tude.
The Spenditude logo brings together three things – your mind, your heart and your wallet – all of which deserve your attention. In times of crisis it is this combination that is a key driver to a smoother ride through the ups and downs. If you become more connected to your Spenditude you may well create a ‘better normal’ rather than a new normal.
About the Authors
Paul Gordon and Janine Robertson have a strong passion for helping people to improve their financial attitude and awareness. Their book, Spenditude: A life-changing attitude to money, was published in 2019. www.spenditude.com