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Your coronavirus lockdown survival guide

The other significant cost to many families is private school fees… but surely, schools will extend leniency there, too?

With income from external sources dropping, or disappearing, around the country, there are some house-bound hustles that could give your finances a much-needed boost.

Plan and prepare

Now is vital preparation time and, no, I’m not suggesting you rush out and buy more toilet paper, rice, pasta or flour (that one confuses me: I guess for when the pasta runs out? Or are we all planning on baking our way through this?).

It’s not the time to free-wheel on your food… you’ll just see it expensively perish.

A 14-day meal plan – with all necessary ingredients, so you can minimise your visits to the supermarket – is key. Don’t forget to add in those tasty treats. That’s going to help to keep everybody in your household “sweet”.

In-home entertainment

Think beyond what you’ll eat, to your entertainment, too.

The concept of cocooning was created as people sought to trim spending during the Global Financial Crisis – people could save money by re-creating outside experiences in their own homes.

You could plan to go all out during the lockdown to approximate the food and atmosphere of your favourite café or restaurant. Or you could set up a “gold class” cinema experience in your lounge room. That could help pass the time and give you peace of mind that you are saving a small fortune, especially if you’d usually buy a bucket of popcorn and all the other extras!

If you don’t have already them, you could also sign up for a relatively cheap Netflix or Stan (owned by Nine, the proprietor of this masthead) streaming service.

You’ll also need a stash of books, puzzles and board games that can deliver hours of pleasure to your lockdown pack, with minimal hip-pocket pain.

Anything to absorb time you might otherwise be tempted to use online shopping!

Clean financial house

Many people will probably look around their four walls and see all the things on their “to-do” and “to-fix” lists. The silver lining to self-isolation is that finally we’ll all have time to do them.

However, perhaps the most lucrative place to channel your energies is in a financial overhaul. You may now have not only the time but the financial motivation.

If you’ve had the same utilities, insurance or loan providers for more than two years, you are probably wasting money unnecessarily.

It’s apathy that sees us overpaying. Or more accurately, direct debits and being a bill D.I.L – standing for digitally induced laziness – and our usually frantic pace of life.

The business model of many of these providers is to use existing customers to fund discounts extended to new ones. Becoming a new one yourself could be the ticket to saving hundreds of dollars a month.

A raft of comparison websites has sprung up to quickly let you price check your providers.

After you’re done cleaning financial house, turn your attention to the “wardrobe sort.”

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Enterprising Aussies are already making a pretty penny by using social platforms, such as Instagram, to sell surplus clothes – there’s most demand for designer, or vintage items – using hashtags like #shopmywardrobe and #resalenotretail.

Even if buyers need to wait a while for you to send the goods, they have never understood more.

It’s possible you are also crafty, handy or have other skills that you could monetise, with the gift of time. If it’s a viable, enjoyable prospect, stock up on necessary materials now.

Further, keep your body and brain tidy. Experts say continuing to exercise is important.

If you have a regular trainer or fitness instructor who may have temporarily lost their job, consider offering them money for a “do-it-at-home” exercise plan.

There are also free meditation apps to help keep you calm … and attempt to keep cabin fever at bay.

Protect and project

Back on the income front, you must protect any existing work you can and even project to what you may want to do in the future.

Protection will involve making sure you have the requisite equipment – laptop, internet or whatever else you need to carry on your job in your own home (not forgetting there could be tax deductions available for a home office).

It’s fast emerging that it’s important to have work-from-home etiquette right, too.

With much conference calling for work likely, top tips include dressing in an appropriate outfit, checking the background to make sure there’s not anything embarrassing or incriminating, and looking directly at the camera.

To safeguard your job as much as possible, you want to project professionalism, despite the fact you might have had one eye on the TV.

Finally, if your job’s shaky, you simply don’t like it or don’t get paid enough, why not turn your thoughts to the next one?

There are bountiful online courses out there that could dramatically improve your prospects and personal profit for when we get to the other side of this COVID-19 craziness.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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