Your money and coronavirus: 10 steps to help you save and protect your finances

Worried about what the fallout of the coronavirus crisis could mean for your money? Here are 10 steps you could take right now to help shore up your finances.Worried about what the fallout of the coronavirus crisis could mean for your money? Here are 10 steps you could take right now to help shore up your finances.how to save moneySource: Jacob Lund (Shutterstock)1. Ask yourself if you could be doing better with your home loanIf you’re trying to cut back on some expenses, one possibility is to look closely at your home loan and how much you’re being charged. Interest rates are at historically low levels, so now could be a good time to compare and find a better deal. Analysis of Canstar’s database of over 4,000 products, shows that there is a 2.95 percentage point difference in the lowest advertised standard variable interest rate and the highest.  For an owner-occupier borrower paying back principal and interest on a $400,000 loan at 80% LVR over 25 years, refinancing to that lowest rate of 2.19% (comparison rate 2.19%) could:
save them up to $638 per month in repaymentsreduce the total amount of interest paid over the life of the loan by more than $191,000.Fixed rate loans listed on Canstar’s database also have a wide variance between the cheapest and highest advertised rates. Fixed rates are recorded as being as low as 2.09% (comparison rate 2.98%) for a two-year fixed loan at the time of writing.

 

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Compare home loan rates for refinanceIf you’re currently considering a home loan, the comparison table below displays some of the variable rate home loans on our database with links to lenders’ websites that are available for refinancing. This table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by comparison rate (lowest-highest). Products shown are principal and interest home loans available for a loan amount of $350K in NSW with an LVR of 80% of the property value and that offer an offset account. Before committing to a particular home loan product, check upfront with your lender and read the applicable loan documentation to confirm whether the terms of the loan meet your needs and repayment capacity. Read the Home Loans Star Rating methodology for more info, or use Canstar’s home loan selector to view a wider range of home loan products. 
What does  meanCompany Star Rating Current Rate Comparison Rate* Monthly Repayment TicToc Home LoansLive-in Variable P&I | Variable 5 Star Rating 2.39% 2.40% $1362.99 on TicToc Home Loans's websiteState CustodiansLow Rate Home Loan with Offset P&I 80% | Variable 5 Star Rating 2.65% 2.66% $1410.38 on State Custodians's websiteloans.com.auOffset Variable-Owner Occ <80% P&I | Variable 5 Star Rating 2.87% 2.90% $1451.19 on loans.com.au's websiteQueensland Country BankSpecial Variable Package Rate P&I <80% | Variable 3 Star Rating 2.79% 3.17% $1436.27 on Queensland Country Bank's websiteCanstarView all Canstar rated Home Loans productsView disclosures*Comparison rate based on loan amount of $150,000 and a term of 25 years. Read the Comparison Rate Warning.
→ How does your loan rate? Compare all home loans on Canstar’s database.2. If you’re looking for a lower-risk place to keep your cash, take a look at some of the returns on offerWith Australia now officially in a recession, some consumers could be looking for a low-risk place to park their funds during this period of uncertainty. According to Canstar finance expert Steve Mickenbecker, there are a number of savings accounts and term deposits offering solid returns that could still be worth considering, despite the record low cash rate.
If you’re shopping around, be mindful of the conditions and withdrawal restrictions some institutions may place on deposit products in return for their sharpest rates. For example, you may need to deposit a certain amount each month and make no withdrawals in order to earn the bonus interest.
At a time of economic uncertainty, you might be wondering whether your money will be safe in the bank. The Australian Government guarantees up to $250,000 of funds per person in official Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADI). That means if one of these institutions becomes bankrupt, the government will repay customers up to $250,000 of the total funds they have with that bank.
Canstar only lists ADIs in our savings, transaction and term deposit comparison database.
→ How does your return stack up? Compare all government-guaranteed term deposit accounts and savings accounts on Canstar’s database.3. Capitalise on low rates: Is it worth consolidating existing debts?If you are concerned about existing debt, staying on top of repayments or how much interest you’re accumulating, you may have some options available.
For example, it could also be a good time to consider consolidating your debts. This means combining multiple debts into a single loan or credit card, ideally one with a lower interest rate than your existing debts. At a time of historically low interest rates, this could be one way to save yourself money in interest while making your repayments more manageable.
Two common options are debt consolidation personal loans and credit cards that allow you to transfer the balances from other debts onto a new credit card. Below we have rounded up some of the options on our database for each of these debt consolidation techniques. Remember, though, that once you have consolidated your debt to a new loan or credit card, it’s generally a good idea to pay off the balance as quickly as possible.
In particular, be mindful that credit cards with a 0% balance transfer offer (sometimes with an accompanying fee attached) generally begin charging interest on the balance at a relatively high rate once the initial interest-free offer expires. It could also be a good idea to consider the annual fee or other fees charged, and – if possible – to avoid any new purchases on the card, as the provider could start charging interest on these purchases right from the start.
Compare personal loansIf you’re currently considering a personal loan, the comparison table below displays some of the unsecured personal loans on our database with links to lenders’ websites. This table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by comparison rate (lowest-highest). Products shown are unsecured personal loans for the purpose of debt consolidation available for a loan amount of $20,000 in NSW with a duration of three years. Before committing to a particular personal loan product, check upfront with your lender and read the applicable loan documentation to confirm whether the terms of the loan meet your needs and repayment capacity. Use Canstar’s personal loan selector to view a wider range of personal loan products.
What does  meanCompany Star Rating Advertised rate Comparison rate * Monthly repayment Liberty FinancialUnsecured Loan A - Excellent Credit 5 Star Rating 7.65% up to 10.49 %7.65%up to 12.42 %$623.50up to $649.95on Liberty Financial's websiteMoneyPlaceUnsecured Loan A - Excellent Credit 5 Star Rating 7.65% up to 10.49 %7.65%up to 12.42 %$623.50up to $649.95on MoneyPlace's websiteSymple LoansUnsecured Loan Excellent Credit 5 Star Rating 5.75% up to 9.99 %7.94%up to 14.23 %$606.18up to $645.25on Symple Loans's websiteRateSetterUnsecured Personal Loan 5 Star Rating 6.49% 8.55% $612.89 on RateSetter's websiteOurMoneyMarketLow Rate Personal Loan A+ 5 Star Rating 8.05% up to 9 %9.08%up to 10.04 %$627.19up to $635.99on OurMoneyMarket's websiteCanstarView all Canstar rated Personal Loans productsView disclosuresCompare credit cards with a 0% balance transfer offerIf you are considering using a credit card to consolidate debt, the table below displays a snapshot of some of the low-rate credit cards on Canstar’s database with links to providers’ websites, with 0% balance transfer offers for cardholders looking to spend around $500 per month. Please note that this table is sorted by the card annual fee, then by provider name (alphabetically). Use Canstar’s credit card comparison selector to view a wider range of credit cards.
Company Purchase Rate Balance Transfer Annual Fee BankwestBankwest | More Mastercard 19.99%0%for6 mthsthen 19.99%Upfront fee 1% applies$100on Bankwest's websiteBankwestBankwest | More Platinum Mastercard 19.99%0%for6 mthsthen 19.99%Upfront fee 1% applies$160on Bankwest's websiteBankwestBankwest | More World Mastercard 19.99%0%for6 mthsthen 19.99%Upfront fee 1% applies$270on Bankwest's websiteCanstarView all Canstar rated Credit Cards productsView disclosures4. Could you be saving on your car and home insurance?Insurance is designed to be a safety net if the worst should happen, and an outlay on the right insurance policy now could end up saving you money in the future. There are a number of ways that it might be possible to reduce the costs of your car or home and contents insurance premiums:
Find the best deal for the amount of cover you need – Insurance premiums are calculated on the value of the property that needs to be insured and the risk insuring that property represents. Different providers can often weigh up that risk differently, so it could be possible to swap insurers to find a lower price. For example, with home insurance, different companies could view the risk of robbery in a particular suburb differently. Be sure to read the Product Disclosure Statements carefully for any policies you’re considering, though, to ensure you are getting the cover you need.Better match your circumstances to your level of insurance – If your circumstances have changed, it could be possible to renegotiate your level of cover with your insurer. For example, with car insurance, there are many people working at home right now, which means their car might not be needed for their usual commute. Some insurers consider where the car is parked when calculating what premiums will cost. If your car stays at home, in the safety of your garage, that could mean you may qualify for a reduction. If that’s not the case, it could pay to compare the cost of your policy with other providers that do offer that type of customisation.Look for loyalty discounts (and check that they are worth it in the first place) – Taking out different kinds of insurance policies with the one insurer could sometimes make you eligible for a “multi-policy” discount. But it could also pay to check to see if that discount is actually worth it, by comparing what other providers could offer you for the same cover.Consider changing your excess – Some insurers will allow you to change your excess, so you pay less in premiums but pay more towards the cost of repairs or replacement whenever you make a claim. However, it could be a good idea to consider your ability to pay that excess if other unexpected expenses arise at the same time.Compare car insuranceIf you’re considering car insurance policies, the comparison table below displays some of the policies currently available on Canstar’s database with links direct to the providers’ websites, for a 30-39 year old male seeking comprehensive cover in NSW without cover for an extra driver under 25. Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) followed by provider name (alphabetical). Use Canstar’s car insurance comparison selector to view a wider range of policies.
What does  meanCompany Star Rating Agreed or market value Road Assistance Available Lifetime guarantee on repairs BingleComprehensive 5 Star Rating Market Not Available Included on Bingle's websiteBudget DirectGold Comprehensive 5 Star Rating Either Optional Included on Budget Direct's websitePoncho InsuranceCar Insurance 5 Star Rating Agreed Not Included Included on Poncho Insurance's websiteVirgin MoneyComprehensive - Price Saver 5 Star Rating Either Optional Included on Virgin Money's websiteHBF Financial ServicesComprehensive 4 Star Rating Either Not Available Included on HBF Financial Services's websiteCanstarView all Canstar rated Car Insurance productsView disclosuresCompare home insuranceIf you’re comparing home and contents insurance policies, the comparison table below displays some of the policies currently available on Canstar’s database with links direct to the providers’ websites, for an Australian aged under 50, seeking cover in NSW or ACT for a cost to replace building and contents of below $550,000. Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by provider name (alphabetical). Use Canstar’s home insurance comparison selector to view a wider range of policies.
Company Star Rating Online Discount New for Old Cover Accidental Damage ANZHome & Contents 5 Star Rating Not Available Included Optional on ANZ's websiteBudget DirectHome & Contents 5 Star Rating Included Included Optional on Budget Direct's websiteVirgin MoneyHome & Contents 5 Star Rating Included Included Optional on Virgin Money's websiteAllianz AustraliaHome Insurance 4 Star Rating Included Included Optional on Allianz Australia's websiteSt.George BankQuality Care Home & Contents 4 Star Rating Included Included Not Available on St.George Bank's websiteCanstarView all Canstar rated Home Insurance productsView disclosures5. Review your super: Are you paying too much in fees?Recent drops in the share market have taken a toll on many Australians’ super balances. Investment performance is a key factor to consider when determining how your super is tracking, and another important factor to look at is fees. If you’re looking to protect your nest egg at a time of uncertainty, making sure you’re not paying too much is one aspect of your super you generally have a bit more control over.
Super fees are often shown as a percentage of your balance, and as a result what may look like a small difference in the fees you’re charged per year could potentially translate to tens of thousands of dollars of retirement funds saved or lost by the time you’re eligible to cash in your super.