COVID-19 Financial Survival Guide

by | May 13, 2020 | Personal Finance

Looking for a financial survival guide that actually makes sense during lockdown? You’ve come to the right place. A lot of financial information posted online has focused on investing, saving and planning for the future. Yet, we are surrounded by people who are just struggling TO SURVIVE!

Many in our communities are not blessed with a job that will continue to pay them in full — or even partially — during this lockdown. Many are self-employed, work from home, work for unregistered small businesses or do contract work. Sadly, the Government’s COVID-19 TERS or UIF benefit means nothing to them.


The COVID-19 goal of many is simple: SURVIVE.

This reality does not involve having nest eggs, savings and investments. This reality has to see that people have food, electricity and a roof over their heads — at least until the end of this lockdown. Our financial survival guide is for this reality. Check out our top tips below.


Top 10 financial survival tips during COVID-19


1. Stay inside

Isolation in smaller dwellings is hard, but we still need to try to do it. There is no excuse for unnecessarily roaming the streets in search of entertainment. Our health comes first. It doesn’t help trying to manage the little money you do have — if you are severely ill or dead.

Stay home and healthy to survive the lockdown.

Stay inside. Stay safe.


2. Stay calm and don’t panic

As hard as it is, we should be calmly looking at all the options and solutions to the problems we face. There ARE solutions. You can find some of them right here.


3. Track your expenses and draw up a budget

Being home is the best time to get a good overall view of your finances. Write down everything you buy. Keep all your till slips and start recording every cent you spend, so you know exactly where your money is going, how much you might need for next month and if you need to cut costs.


4. Stop all and any unnecessary spending

Now is not the time for “oor en toor”. Some people get into the mindset of “things are bad, but I’ll feel better if I spoil myself and my kids.” This is not a good approach, especially if you are unsure of whether you will have an income in the upcoming months. We literally can’t survive on love and fresh air!

Think before spending money unnecessarily.

Stop all and any unnecessary spending.


5. Bored? Dig out the paperwork

You have the time now. Start digging out all your financial contracts and paperwork — from credit agreements to insurance policies.

  • Go through the paperwork and make a note of who you owe what to.
  • Have a look at what your interest rates for every debt is.
  • If you can afford to, pay back the most expensive ones (the ones with the higher interest rates) first to free up money to pay the rest quicker.


6. Scale down

Look at all of your subscriptions and contracts. Check out the terms and conditions, cancellation clauses and penalties applicable. If you cannot cancel, try to downgrade and pay less.

  • Cancel subscriptions to cell phone apps you don’t need.
  • Stop your DSTV or switch to a cheaper package.
  • Check your medical aid and see what cheaper, more suitable packages are available.


If possible, try not to skip medical aid and insurance premiums if you wish to remain covered. As yet, no “payment breaks” have been issued on these premiums. Ts and Cs apply, but in most cases — if you don’t pay, your cover stops and you cannot claim.


7. Talk to your children about the financial situation in the house

If things are tough and everyone has to tighten their belt to get through the next few weeks, then your children must be aware of the situation, so that they can come to the party too. You don’t have to give them the details of your bank balance, but explain what you can spend money on and where you need to save.

Teach your children about the household finances.

Talk to your children about the financial situation.


8. Make a point to communicate with your creditors

Rather than having you just not pay, creditors want to hear from you. Banks are open, but most stores and creditors are not.

Make a note of who you want to speak to about making lower repayments once lockdown is over. If negotiating with your creditors is hard for you, then speak to a registered debt counsellor who can act on your behalf. The larger debt counselling firms are open throughout lockdown.


9. Save money on the way you do things

While it’s not always possible to physically put money under the mattress or in a savings account, we can still “save”.

  • Switch off your geyser during the day. You can save R10 a day on electricity this way. That’s R300 a month that can go towards something else.
  • Make food that feeds more people — and freeze the leftovers. Soups and bredies (even without meat) go a long way these days.
  • Medicines are costly. Make your own immune system boosters from natural ingredients.
  • Check for specials on cell phone data and airtime deals during this time.


The most important bit of advice that I can give today is this:

10. Don’t try keeping up with the Joneses

We are all in this together. The Joneses are probably struggling too behind closed doors. This is about the survival of you and your family. Moenie die blink kant bo hou nie.

  • Ask for help and take help when it is offered.
  • Give — where and when you can.
  • It’s OK to be worried and stressed about your finances.
  • It’s OK not to be OK.
  • It’s OK for the house to be untidy.
  • It’s OK for the children to not be perfectly groomed.
  • It’s OK to love your spouse — but sometimes not like them.


These are unprecedented times in world economies and in our households, but we should approach it with the same mindset. Times are tough — but so are we. Use a few of the tips in this financial survival guide and we will survive COVID-19. In the meantime, become informed about your financial rights and options.

We can survive the lockdown if we work together.

Give — where and when you can.


Originally posted in the Daily Voice as REK YOUR CHEQUE: Stay inside and save if possible by Moeshfieka Botha.

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