The past 12 months have been a big change for so many Australians, with only a lucky few avoiding upsets to their everyday habits, including their spending, as a result of Covid-19. Some might say older Australians had it easier, with extra payments for Age Pensioners and lockdowns designed to protect those with health vulnerabilities.
Others would probably say, though, that it has been tougher on older Aussies, who made up a disproportionate amount of the job losses, saw long-held retirement travel plans scuppered and were more likely to feel isolated. So we asked retired Starts at 60 members how Covid-19 had impacted their budget and lifestyle in 2020. Here’s a range of their answers.
“Money … I swore years ago I would never worry about money and for the most part I’ve succeeded. I’ve always travelled on my credit card and then paid it off when I returned home. Covid-19 ruined my tried-and-true plan, though.
My credit card kept increasing after I arrived home. I couldn’t keep up with the interest. And then I received an email from Coles offering me $20,000 at 5.99 per cent interest instead of 20.74 per cent. I didn’t have to be a financial genius to work out this was a good deal, so I pressed the button and yay, I received $20,000 in my account. I was afraid I wouldn’t meet their lending criteria but it turned out there was none. I paid off my other cards and have a payment of $386.56 a month for the next five years, which I can budget for.
I think I could live on the pension if I didn’t have to pay rent. It’s a killer. Pensioners who own their own home or unit don’t know how lucky they are. I just have to keep my other credit cards under control, so no Christmas presents for my family this year as my car registration and insurance are due on December 26. But I’m off to Tasmania in February. I’ve never been! I’m not staying home just so I can save money. That’s not life!”
“In our case (my wife and I are both in our 80s), the Covid-19 experience has been a very good one, for several reasons. For a start, the government has been literally throwing money at us, two recent amounts of $750 each, making $3,000 in all, and another $250 each, just paid to us, with another $250 each to come in the new year. Add to that the fact that we have been subjected to several levels of lockdown, meaning we couldn’t go out and spend our new-found wealth.
So we have finished up with more money in our bank account than has been there for years. We’re almost looking on ourselves as the ‘new, idle rich’ at the moment. Finally, to add to our pleasure, there has been no sign of the virus where we live, right from the start of it all . So we are quite happy!”
“Covid-19 has brought many changes for me and some are good and others are not. My husband and I are seniors and we have watched in horror as grocery prices have soared while our income remains the same. We, as retirees, don’t get nice cost-of-living raises like we did when we worked! So that’s a huge negative for us.
Now the quarantine has us divided in our opinions. My husband is a ‘let’s go’ person and I am a homebody so he doesn’t like the quarantine while I’m fine with it! I recently ordered all of my Christmas gifts online! But seeing and hearing about all the sickness and death from this evil virus is totally negative for us both! Plus, we have our son and daughter-in-law in the medical field, which is a huge concern.
We have more time to talk. We have time to watch movies together. And we are really enjoying our two great-grandchildren, aged four and eight, so entertaining them daily is a plus! And I have personally drawn closer to God through this whole pandemic thing! Wishing you and everyone who reads my ramblings a safe journey to the other side of Covid-19!”
“The only real change we’ve made is to reduce what I draw down from superannuation in allocated pension to the new lower minimum allowed so I don’t use up the super I have too quickly. We’ve not been impacted much by anything but the higher prices of some items.”
“Reaction to the Covid-19 closures and restrictions meant the cancellation of a cruise, less travel generally (visit to relatives, etc.) and less socialising, but this was counterbalanced by a rise in maintenance costs as jobs around the property were finally completed. The money provided by the government ($750 and $250) to Age Pensioners was invested in materials. Careful planning (minimising the use of air-conditioning etc.) meant the budget was kept to a similar level.”
“Covid-19 makes no difference to me. My only income is the Age Pension plus a very, very small amount of pension from the United Kingdom. I live in a retirement village into which I purchased six years ago. The maintenance fees are controlled at a percentage of the single pension so they can’t just raise them as they please. I haven’t particularly noticed huge price rises in food or other costs and I don’t eat as much as I used to anyway. Having solar panels has made a big difference to what I’d probably be paying for electricity.
I think the people who are having big problems now are renters and those still in the workforce age who have lost their jobs.”
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.
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