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What some other Aussies are doing to get through the Co-Vid lock-down
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What some other Aussies are doing to get through the Co-Vid lock-down

Here are some tips for getting through the coronavirus crisis – from keeping boredom at bay to buying a bidet.  Baking, cooking, praying, reading, gardening, cleaning and drinking have been among many suggestions.  And looking out for each other to get through.

Keep in mind that some answers may relate to a time when social distancing measures were not as restrictive as they are now.

Coronavirus is hard but you just have to stay fit, healthy and mentally strong. It’s a great time to set goals for yourself such as going sugar-free, being more active or even something you’ve always wanted to do but never have had the time to.  What better time than now?! Amidst all the troubles and struggles of being inside, you learn more about yourself.  Are you someone who can easily stay at home?  Or are you someone who can’t sit still and is just jumping to go out and get exercise and be outside?


I’ve started journaling and drawing and am planning on reducing social media time for the next month.  Also making an effort to wear bright colours – Bec


I’m a big believer in taking photos to document special family events and milestones, something I’ve inherited from my parents.  Sadly many of our family photos from the 20s right through to the 90s are fading, some quite badly.  It’s been on my mind for a long time, I’ve always wanted to scan them and create a digital collection to ensure the memories are preserved.  Now that I’m home I’ve bought a scanner and started scanning the thousands of photos in our family photo collection. – Dani


Upgrading technical skills, playing with kids and enjoying a variety of vegetarian cuisines. – Subimal


I’m in multiple hobby groups where photography is an important aspect.  Everyone is devoting time to processing and posting backlogs.  In the gaps, they look at what everyone else has posted. – Anonymous


Jigsaw puzzles are the go at my house.  Gardening has been keeping us busy as well. – Anonymous


I am a 63 stay-at-home mum.  My home is large enough so that my semi-retired husband and I don’t trip over each other, and we can basically each do our own thing.  Our 19-year-old daughter is coping with 3rd-year uni lectures/tutorials online – she is resigned to staying at home, and is talking extensively to friends remotely.  That they are all in the same boat together, makes it easier for her to accept.  We all still have our usual little spats, but our large home means they are nothing more than the every day – killing each other isn’t remotely on the agenda!  I like my own company, I have many hobbies, from reading to craftwork. I cook terrific nutritious meals every night, the only exciting thing to look forward to every night! – Fiona


Until the visitor bans, Mum loved to dress up and entertain the residents at the local nursing home.  Recently she dug through her costume box and delivered the Queen’s message directly to all her Facebook friends and family.  She has done such a wonderful job of bringing laughter and cheer to everyone with her funny photos each day. – Narissa


I’ve found an excellent resource released by Occupational Therapy Australia which is a guide to dealing with the disruption caused by COVID 19.  It’s really easy to read and has much helpful and practical advice for people dealing with living at home during this period.  Working from home in a small house, we’ve followed the advice in the guide to reimagine our space with two workstations at the end of a table, a clear area at the other end as a dining space…and we bought a cheap pantry from Bunnings to fit our food seeing as we’ve changed our shopping habits to only go to the supermarket once a week. – Mari


The first two weeks, I regularly had a panic attack, being so far from only son, I couldn’t sleep and didn’t know what to do with my time, I could not concentrate on anything.  But you get used to it, I started Wolf Hall, make jigsaw puzzles and watch tv.  And I clean, the house will look like never before.  Shopping is limited to once a week, and I wear a mask when I go out.  I cycle along the river, early in the morning four times a week.  And the cockatiel is a great distraction, I taught him to whistle: Rockin’ In The Free World, it’s so funny when he does. We are in this for longer than we think.  Just take day by day, follow the rules and hope for the best. – Janne


I try to walk once a day at least around the park nearby, sing with my Choir “With One Voice” who are Australia-wide.  Conductors from all the choirs are connecting several times a week and you can sing along with their current music.  I have a bicycle that I haven’t had the intestinal fortitude to get on and learn to ride, being 72 now and not wanting to break bones, but have resolved to find somewhere quiet and practice carefully.  Reading my books (retired librarian), is a joy, and Netflix is a saviour.  Trying to avoid watching too many newscasts about the virus as I’m told this isn’t good for a person and can make them feel more ‘down’ than they would usually.  I liked the idea to keep bananas fresh, and will try that so thanks everyone for your tips and keep well – Julie


Every day: 1) pull up the blinds, open the windows, let the lights in, let the breeze blow — it does wonder for any atrophying soul!  2) look into the window — of your spouse and children’s heart and soul and mind — listen to what is said, but more importantly, what’s not being said — crisis helps you realise it’s not what you don’t have that matters, but what you still have and the people you can still love that make all the difference  3) whistle away — while wiping off crumbs and cleaning the mess…this craze of constant chaos?  It keeps the mind busy, the body moving — besides, it shows signs of life…signs to show that even when everything seems stripped away, it’s the fundamentals that matter: people and not possession, legacy and not looks – Liza


We organise a social get together with family via Facetime or similar.  We all have a glass of wine and chat about the week.  Have created a pretty good task list for around the home – some tasks not so exciting :).  Family games night every week. I’m going to write the book I’ve always talked about.  My major concern is being fit and able to ensure my elderly parents have everything they need and are safe.  The important things in life are family and friends and living! – Jodie


I retired a year ago and my wife presented me with the LIST (home maintenance jobs, repairs, decluttering, etc) I have been busy working on the LIST since then but now I have no respite (trips to the shops, cafes, my local club).  I am busy but it is now even more intense working through the LIST.  This CANNOT be the new normal!  No No No Let’s hope we can get BACK to normal as soon as we can.  Stay at home everyone so we get beyond this soon and I can get out again for my respite asap. Take care. – Brian


We have found a way to hang out without breaching social distancing measures – my wife, Laura, came up with a great idea of removing some colourbond panels from our shared fence, and replacing them with transparent poly-carbonate so we could enjoy a drink or dinner together with our neighbours. – Andrew


Taking the time to learn a new language, join in active exercises to replace aqua aerobics, beginning cryptic crosswords, sending my children’s books to my granddaughters by post, writing simple books for them and creating new laminated games for something new to do. – Gail


No work at all.  So I’ve fallen in a heap.  I’d love to be productive and clean the house – learn a new skill, or get fitter than I am.  The garden looks like s**t.  The dishwasher hasn’t been emptied in days, and there are weird balls of fluff in my bedroom that I haven’t seen for ages.  But instead, I’m just taking the opportunity to watch classic old movies: The Godfather, Scarface, The Conversation. And so many more. I could get used to this – Ingie


I wake up go to work, come home in the evening, spend time with my family.  Sleep, wake up and do it all over again.  Nothings changed except we now own a bidet! – Aaron


I keep adding new learning items to my list.  This week I started learning to cut my hair, using some YouTube videos that my hairdresser recommended (at my paid request).  I started with the sides (HAD to happen), and now I’m awaiting the new barber shears coming in a couple of weeks to get to the top (and watching the videos again).  I’m also learning to teach by distance, another new (and important) skill.  AND I’m stepping up my gardening knowledge and helping with more veggie planting.  Gardening may be an important skill for folks. – Jan


Our Belrose Probus club has utilised Zoom to have Management committee meetings and virtual meeting drinks at 6 pm on some days.  The club has birthday list wishes each month, started additional club Newsletters with news on members, cartoons off Facebook and general news.  We have also started up our own Facebook group with more information and tips for members. – Terry


We tend to walk less to the nearby parks these days due to restrictions as we feel that some freedom has been taken away.  Essentially working from home, exercising in the house, watch TV/news, play games with our children, chat more with family members and do more indoor things together as a family like baking.  Certainly helps to improve our relationship but each of us should have our quiet time for ourselves. Reading is one way – Jac


My job lately largely involves setting up offices around the country to be able to receive work calls at home.  The days have been long and intense, but worth it to help slow the spread.  I’m coping with the stress by riding my bike to work every day, 1/2 hour yoga when I get home, and meditating right before bed.  Been finding lots of laughs and support online from complete strangers who have found an astounding amount of compassion to share – Kath


Adopt the neighbour principle.  Four households making contact.  Addressing two – four weeks worth of household necessities in the light of city-wide hoarding.  Exchange safety tips and your contact details for a sense of Cummings.  Isolation has its own negative effects. – Anonymous


Read lots of books! – Anonymous


Have phone calls with loved ones.  Be creative – make music, make art.  Set routines for working from home.  Stick to healthy work hours.  Get out of your PJs in the morning to feel productive.  Give time and space to your fears and worries so that they don’t boil over, but also be intentional about quieting your mind from the news for stretches of the day.  Limit time on social media.  Look for beauty where you haven’t before – the nooks and crannies of your house and backyard.  Get your neighbours’ phone numbers so you can check-in, especially if they are elderly or alone.  Research breathing exercises and meditation techniques for anxiety.  Limit alcohol intake.  Drink lots of water.  Be patient with others – everyone is scared and on edge.  Spare thoughts and prayers for those suffering more.  Keep perspective.  Practice thankfulness.  Love, deeply and sacrificially and creatively.  Don’t heap abuse on your leaders – they are doing their best.  This situation is unprecedented, which means we have an unprecedented chance to be good and kind and get through it, together. – Anonymous


Making up great stories about how I’m getting more fit and mentally stable by exercising and helping my neighbours, while watching the entire Netflix catalogue….. – Anonymous


I’m designing a native garden, planting seeds and watching them grow.  Even in an apartment if you can find a sunny(ish) window sill you can grow mixed lettuces and greens.  There are plenty of places to buy seeds online and to read about garden design.  Plant the idea in your head and reflect on the importance of soil, flowers, trees and vegetables to our environment. – Anonymous


Am reading a biography of Napoleon and listening to all the Haydn String Quartets.  And keeping a very tidy house!  Going out occasionally for shopping, but it is so crazy.  We have a surfeit of oats, fortunately, that food which according to Dr Johnson in England feeds the horses, but in Scotland feeds the people!  Hopefully no weevils in the flour … – Anonymous


Bunkering down at home definitely. – Anonymous


Care for others.  Remind elderly neighbours to ensure their prescriptions are filled and see if they need any assistance with that, shopping or other matters.  Make sure they have your phone number if they need help.  And for those of us on the coast, time in the surf or walking at the beach is always grounding to help keep things in perspective.  Coronavirus can and should be about community and caring and support for those in need. – Kate


Tip to avoid supermarket anxiety: Make a meal plan and freeze your meals in a container.  This way you can ensure you are still eating healthy and not overbuying for the sake of buying and helps you stay on target at the supermarket! – Anonymous


Studying.  Computer games.  Keep a diary.  Exercise. – Anonymous


Laugh…just for the sake of it.  And stay away from Facebook! – Kristen


Eat healthy food prepared from fresh ingredients.  Bake biscuits, and Soda Bread.  Walk the dog on streets, beaches, and parks.  Breathe deeply, calm down.  Meditate.  Do exercises to maintain muscle strength.  Listen to music; mainly classical.  Keep talking with neighbours and friends at a safe distance, 2 meters.  Phone family and friends living far away.  Tidy cupboards, drawers and clean the house.  Wash the windows and the car.  Look after the garden, growing herbs, rhubarb and lemons.  Watch the Honeyeaters in the Grevillias and the birds in the streets, and your garden skinks and lizards.  Do or learn new crafts, sewing, crochet, knitting.  This too will pass, be kind and helpful. – Veronica


Kindness, calm and patience. – Patrick


My housemates and I are creating daily routines, doing something productive, something fun and something intellectually stimulating each day to get through it.  There are a lot of things that we all need to do but usually don’t have time to do, like clean out the linen closet, unsubscribe to emails, clear out the camera roll on my phone.  Things like that which usually get pushed aside!  But mainly doing lighthearted activities to keep our minds off it all and trying to balance out the scary and the fun.  Also, a lot of screen time with family and friends, checking in with as many people as we can and making sure no one is alone. – Steph


If working from home, make sure to have a proper setup to prevent injuries.  Take this time to also start reading some good books! – Anonymous


I’m stressed, I funnel my anxiety into the kitchen; cooking (including competitively, for the Royal Melbourne Show) is a big part of my mental health ‘program’.  I’m also trying to self-isolate where possible, mostly to protect more vulnerable friends and family with existing health issues.  So, I’ve been sharing cooking tips via Instagram; simple stuff like how to freeze fresh produce so that it doesn’t turn into one big mushy ice cube, or how to keep bananas from ripening too fast (wrap the stems in plastic to slow the ethylene leakage!), and easy recipes for using up the remains of the vegetable crisper or basic dry goods.  They’re little, practical things that seem to be helping people feel like they’ve regained a bit of control over their situation, which is so helpful for anxiety.  As to whether or not I’ll share my Royal Show blue-ribbon-winning recipes, well, watch this space … – Clem


I collected a mini stockpile of quality proteins, took to exercising at home and have joined a nationwide fight for universal basic income.  As Americans are doing under the leadership of Andrew Yang. – Anonymous


Trying to stick to as normal of a routine as possible is paramount.  Try getting up at a similar time each morning, shower, get dressed, do a YouTube work out, eat breakfast and then get started for the day.  Take regular breaks and touch base with colleagues, family and friends. We are going to get through this! 🙂 – Bianca


My wife is concerned about the lockdown.  In particular about whether we have enough alcohol at home.  As she said, I am definitely going to need more wine if I have to spend 24-7 with you for a month. – Anonymous


Been getting takeaway meals from my local Chinese restaurant to feed myself.  It’s quiet and peaceful compared to Coles and Woolies right now. – Anonymous


By bringing ‘wine-o-clock’ forward by about 5 hours. – Anonymous


It’s week 3 for my girlfriend and I working from home.  We feel fortunate to be in employment and to be able to work remotely.  Our makeshift desk (round dining table) has been working okay but meals are now relegated to the couch.  Telecon’s, Skype and Zoom calls are taken in the bedroom to avoid disruptions to each other, this doesn’t stop the crazy cat intruding most of the time.  A normal routine and exercise are probably what has helped us the most.  Although no longer having to commute is a bonus, we’ve realised the importance of that regular work shut down ritual where you can turn off your brain just for a little bit.  At home, it’s a little different as you instantly go onto your next part of the day in preparing dinner, cleaning etc – RT


For a deeper perspective, I’m re-reading The Plague by Albert Camus. – Michael


Praying to God to stop the spread of coronavirus. – Anonymous


After working from home for two weeks it is very boring, time drags on, there is nothing to look forward too.  You used to go to work and say ok after work I am going to go swimming or going to poker, and traveling to and from work was a separation, now its I will walk around the block again and go to the couch.  Changes I have noticed are more people out walking at all times, and a big drop in traffic. – David


Today’s mission is to learn how to light a fire by rubbing two sticks together!  Choosing some simple “how to” videos off YouTube and having a bash! – Paul


I have always been a baker at home but the coronavirus has galvanised some instinct to become closer to the fundamentals of life.  So I’ve been experimenting with different ways to bake sourdough and methods.  I have a community that I’ve started named Community Sourdough Project.  It’s my quest to show people that they too can bake healthy, gut-friendly prebiotic sourdough in their own homes.  Just with water, salt and organic flour. – Prue


When I am not working from home, I am practising mandarin Chinese on an app, reading and playing online games.  It’s funny how about 90% of my life has remained exactly the same, yet it just feels different.  Catch up on things around the house – breaking it up into sections so it’s not too overwhelming. – Anonymous


After breakfast, I shower and put on comfy clothes (that aren’t pyjamas), then “leave for work”, walk around the block and then come home, having “arrived” to start my workday.  Lunch outside for a full 30 minutes, no technology allowed.  At the end of the workday another walk around the block, and then I’ve arrived “home”.  I’m also wearing my Fitbit all day and I’m not allowed to go to bed until I’ve hit 10,000 steps. – Ava


I am cooking new dishes.  Calling my parents and friends and sharing information.  Watching Netflix alas no sports.  Lot of friends sending jokes or videos on the situation so good to feel a bit light after reading or listening to the news. – Ranjeet


No use complaining as there is nothing we can do but ride it out.  Use this time to spend with family and less time on the screens. – Edwina


Fairly simple and straightforward – don’t try to live your normal life and get done everything you would normally get done; get done what you can without stress until a new normal emerges and you can work within those new boundaries. – Thos


I’m a workplace strategist & economist for a global corporate property services firm.  My personal advice to people is ‘Use DOWNtime to UPskill’, there are a lot of free education platforms out there (LinkedIn Learning and Kahn Academy).  With a looming recession, it’s never been more important to upskill yourself with the latest tech and business processes and set yourself ahead of the pack. – Bryan


Tip #1: Take the opportunity to “Cook Like an Italian with Silvia Colloca“.  Delicious. Tip #2: Change it up, and refresh your house.  Move the pictures, cushions and furniture around.  Tip #3: Update your podcast library and listen/learn from some transformative stories and pre-eminent broadcasters.  Tip #4: Detox! Now’s the time to think about giving the booze a break.  Tip #5: Reconnect with those books you bought, but never quite found time to read.  Tip #6: Live consciously.  Think about it.  Half the world doesn’t have access to toilet paper. So calm the —- down. – Anonymous


My partner and I have changed our lives a lot.  He’s a owns a florist in South Melbourne Market, and is now doing all the orders and deliveries himself as the shop has had to close.  I’m a family violence worker and having client contact via phone and video chat.  The isolation is hard for people and for me personally.  Gardening has been a huge help and a good source of therapy.  Animal therapy is also a big one! – Anonymous


Just before all this panic started, I read an article on people using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper.  So when it was difficult to buy the paper, I tried it and it works fine.  I bought small face washers in the baby section of a major store, in packs of ten.  The article had suggested having a handy bucket to collect for used wipes, with disinfectant, and put through the wash when necessary.  However, we have a washlet (toilet seat bidet) and I wash the used wipe as I wash my hands. I love it. – Anonymous


My partner & I are both working from home at our employer instructions.  We have separate office areas set up and working well.  Main issue is internet bandwidth when we both need to use video conference.  First world problem I know but that’s the way it is. – David


Keep a diary and record your interactions with others.  If you do become infected with COVID 19, it might make the task of tracing contacts easier for the medical folk. – Anonymous


I have a small backyard and now pick wild greens which I used to shun.  I get on the android tv box for entertainment and have devised an alternative to toilet paper use as I’ve given up looking for them at the supermarket.  And I go out once or twice a week to top up food groceries.  My makeshift bidet system delivers warm water servicing two toilets, each has its own plastic switch off tap. – Jes


Under normal circumstances, I work from home about 2 or 3 days a week.  The biggest tips I can give to those who might not do it often, or for the first time are: put on some real pants – you might be tempted to get away with track pants or pyjamas but actually “getting ready” for work helps to put you in the right mode, mentally; take a walk – the incidental exercise you get from your commute, or going to the printer, etc has a big impact.  I find that more than 2 or 3 days at home leads to aches and pains if I don’t get at least around the block, or into the backyard; separate your workspace – where you can avoid working in the kitchen or lounge room as I often find my fridge or Netflix calling to me if I don’t use my desk or a study area… and it’s hard to avoid distractions because they’re ALL RIGHT THERE! – Scott


I’ve been working from home since about two weeks now.  I can’t complain: NBN is holding up, Zoom and Skype calls seem far more efficient than in-person meetings, and productivity in general is high.  Happy!  On the other hand, I had a close relative pass away overseas – in a European country that’s currently in lockdown.  Unable to travel back to pay my respects and support my parents is hard.  Really hard.  I really hope everyone gets through this, in great physical and mental condition – Anonymous

Finances on your mind?  We are here to help
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Finances on your mind? We are here to help

If you are finding it tough to meet your current financial obligations or you are just interested in reviewing your current home loan, then you are not alone.  Onyx Finance stand ready and able to assist with your options during this difficult time.

Turbulent does not even begin to describe 2020 so far.  As a result of COVID-19 and not forgetting the bushfires, thousands of Australians are out of work, with Treasury predicting that the jobless rate will double in the June quarter from 5.1 per cent to 10 per cent.  Many others have had their hours reduced or have been temporarily stood down.

In this period of uncertainty, at the very least many will be taking a closer look at their finances to make sure their current loan arrangements are right for them.  We have the experience and knowledge to assist in a variety of situations and are simply an email or phone call away.  We are in regular contact with our lender panel and make it our business to understand the different options lenders currently offer.

And while the options can seem straight forward, it is easy to miss the details and differences that can add up, particularly over a 30-year term.  For example, a number of banks are offering to temporarily freeze mortgage repayments for three or six months.  While this may seem like a good option, it is important to fully understand the implications.  This could mean that the total debt will increase.  Of course, depending on an individual’s circumstances, there may be a number of available alternatives that may reduce repayments while not increasing your interest bill as much in the long term.

Refinancing too may be on the minds of many as a result of the Reserve Bank cutting rates and banks passing them on, to varying degrees, as well as access to a range of competitive fixed interest rate options on the market.  A discussion with us may be just the ticket.

While a simplistic view of what constitutes a great mortgage is the one with the lowest interest rate, mortgage brokers know that what suits one person might not necessarily suit another.  For instance, fixed interest rates can offer piece of mind as interest rates increase, but they can be the cause of anxiety if rates fall or if unforeseen circumstances require a change.

No matter what your circumstances are, Onyx Finance can actively assist you in navigating your current situation.  So, if you’ve been thinking about reassessing your finances and are not in contact with us, do yourself (and your cashflow) a favour and call us now!

Urgent Information for QLD Property Investors
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Urgent Information for QLD Property Investors

To all owners of an investment property in Queensland, if you are not already aware of the Palaszczuk Government’s proposed Special COVID-19 Protections for residential tenants and landlords, we outline it for you here.

While we support the need for tenant protection during COVID-19 however, we are fundamentally opposed to some of the proposed measures.  You should be too!

As a landlord, you will ultimately foot the bill if the following proposals are introduced:

· Your tenant/s will NOT have to pay back any rent. Put simply, a rent reduction negotiated with your tenant/s is a permanent rent waiver meaning you, as the landlord, will be out of pocket, with no means of recovering any unpaid rent in the future post COVID-19.

· You CANNOT ask your tenant/s for any proof of financial hardship.  Your tenant/s can request reduced rent due to COVID-19 without any proof.  This potentially exposes you to false claims and exploitation of the proposed protections for those who genuinely need it.

· Your Landlord Insurance will NOT cover you for rent in arrears*.  The normal terms of your policy won’t cover the rent reduction as this is a mutual agreement between you, as the landlord, and your tenant and you cannot follow the necessary rent default process as this is prohibited. (*Please contact your relevant insurer for individual policy conditions)

· Your tenancy agreement WILL immediately extend by 6 months if it expires during the 6 month freeze on evictions.  Tenants will be automatically entitled to a 6-month extension of the tenancy agreement meaning any protections may last up to 12-months.

· Your tenant/s can REFUSE ENTRY for anything other than emergency repairs.  Not only can your tenant refuse access, they don’t have participate in virtual property inspections either.  There’s also no clarity as to whether prospective purchasers can inspect a property that is for sale.

· Your tenant/s can BREAK A LEASE with only 7 days’ notice.  To make matters worse, you cannot recover any lost rent or costs associated with finding a new tenant as would normally apply.

Now you understand how the Palaszczuk Government’s proposed Special COVID-19 Protections favour tenants at the expense of landlords.

Your urgent help is required before Parliament sits to pass these protections on Wednesday, 22 April 2020.  For our voices to be heard, complete your details in the landlord template letter to Premier Palaszczuk provided by heading to this website https://www.reiq.com/everyonematters/?utm_campaign=MessagefromAM-14April2020-ProtectQueensland&utm_medium=email&utm_source=autopilot and clicking on landlord template letter.  Once completed email this through to thepremier@premiers.qld.gov.au.

ABA confirms its approach to credit ratings
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ABA confirms its approach to credit ratings

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has made official its approach to credit reporting through the COVID-19 crisis, with the primary driver of its decision being alleviating stress for Australian customers.

Borrowers who are granted a six-month deferral on loan repayments will not have their credit rating affected as a result of the holiday, so long as they were up to date with repayments prior to the economic impact of COVID-19.

“If a customer is granted a deferral on their mortgage and other credit products because of COVID-19, banks will report customers as not having missed a repayment, provided they were all up to date when granted relief,” explained ABA CEO Anna Bligh.

“Australia’s banks are here to support customers who have lost their jobs or significantly lost income because of COVID-19.  Customers in these circumstances should not have to worry about their credit rating as well.”

The approach for customers who were already behind on their repayments before being granted a COVID-19 deferral has yet to be decided.  Banks will simply not report the repayment history information for the duration of the deferral period through leaving that field blank; once the deferral has ended, the institution will determine how to report for those customers retroactively.

“There may be other factors which can affect a customer’s credit rating, but customers accepting a COVID-19 loan repayment deferral can rest easy that the deferral will not be one of them,” said Bligh.

The Financial Rights Centre has “warmly welcomed” the ABA announcement.

CEO Karen Cox said, “People calling our advice services have so much to contend with right now: the stress of not being able to pay their bills, fears for their own health, and fears for loved ones.  They should not have to worry about their ability to access credit when this is all over.

“We warmly welcome the ABA’s announcement that their customer’s credit reports will be quarantined from the impact of this crisis and we call on the rest of the finance industry to follow suit.”

Economic Response to the Coronavirus
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Economic Response to the Coronavirus

Support for individuals and households    
       
Income support for individuals
The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This would be paid to both existing and new recipients of the eligible payment categories.*
*Note, this does not include changes to the partner income test
  When
From 27 April 2020
         
Payments to support households
Provide two rounds of $750 payments to those eligible.
  When
First round from 31 March 2020, second round from 13 July 2020
       
Temporary early release of superannuation
Enable individuals and sole traders directly impacted by the economic consequences of the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation, tax-free, in 2019-20, and up to a further $10,000 in 2020-21.  No tax will be imposed on withdrawals.
  When
Applications from April 2020
       
Temporarily reduce superannuation minimum drawdown rates
Reduce the superannuation minimum drawdown rates by 50 per cent for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 income year.
  When
Immediately
       
Lower the social security deeming rates
Lower the social security deeming rates in response to the low interest rate environment.
  When
From 1 May 2020
   
   
Support for businesses    
       
JobKeeper Payment
A significant wage subsidy program to support employees and businesses through the Coronavirus outbreak. Eligible businesses will receive $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee for a maximum of 26 weeks.
  When
Register interest from 30 March, initial payments received first week of May 2020. Register here
       
Boosting Cash Flow for Employers
Enhance the previously announced Boosting Cash Flow for Employers by extending access to not-for-profits, including charities; increasing the maximum total payments to $100,000; increasing the rate of the payment, increasing minimum total payments to $20,000.
  When
Payments from 28 April 2020, additional payments from 21 July 2020
       
Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
Help businesses get through a temporary period of insolvency, by temporarily providing higher thresholds and more time to respond to demands from creditors and providing temporary relief from directors’ personal insolvent trading liability
   
       
Increasing the instant asset write-off
Lifting the threshold to $150,000 (from $30,000) — and making more businesses eligible to use it up to a turnover of $500 million.
  When
Immediately, with deductions to be included in 2019-20 tax returns
       
Backing business investment
Offering businesses a time-limited incentive to invest, by accelerating depreciation deductions.
  When
Immediately, with deductions to be included in 2019-20 tax returns
       
Supporting apprentices and trainees
Wage assistance to help small businesses to keep their apprentices and trainees.
  When
Applications open from early April 2020
       
Support for Coronavirus affected regions and communities
Financial support to help regions and communities most affected by the Coronavirus to recover.
  When
As soon as practicable
       
Support for Australian airlines and airports
Provide initial support to our airline industry through up to $715 million of relief from a range of taxes and Government charges.
  When
1 February 2020 to 30 September 2020
       
VICTORIA ONLY – Business Support Fund
The Victorian State Government has announced a $500 million Business Support Fund to help small businesses survive the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and keep people in work. Eligible businesses can apply for a one-off $10,000 grant which can be used towards costs such as utilities, rent and salaries, and activities to support business continuity planning.
  When
Applications now open and close on Monday 1 June 2020. Apply here
   
   
Supporting the flow of credit    
       
Government support for immediate cash flow needs of SMEs
Establish a loan guarantee arrangement between the Government and participating banks to cover the immediate cash flow needs of SMEs
  When
Commence by early April 2020 and be available for new loans until 30 September 2020
       
Australian Office of Financial Management Support
Provided the Australian Office of Financial Management with an investment capacity of $15 billion to invest in structured finance markets used by smaller lenders
   
       
Reserve Bank of Australia Support
A package of RBA measures to support the Australian economy.
   
Who Gets It?
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Who Gets It?

The Federal Government has committed to assist 10,000 First Home Buyers into the market by topping up their 5% deposits with a government guarantee for 15% of the loan.

However, based on the $500 million in equity the government has set aside, only 1 in 11 buyers will be able to enjoy the benefits of the scheme.

The scheme will remove the need for borrowers to pay Lender’s Mortgage Insurance, saving up to $27,000.

We suggest if you or someone close to you are buying their first home next year, you start planning now.

Single borrowers earning up to $120,000 or couples earning up to $200,000 will be eligible for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme if they have saved 5% of the value of the property they are seeking to purchase.

Here are a few tips to help you on your way:

  • Although the scheme does not start until next year, start planning now to give yourself a chance to be the 1 in 11 who will receive support.
  • If you haven’t already, do a budget – click here to access a budget planner
  • Start managing your discretionary spending today as lenders are checking borrower’s living expenses closely.
  • Be aware of other benefits on offer including grants and stamp duty exemptions by visiting the State Revenue Office in your state or calling us on 1300 1400 15.
  • In some cases, the rent you are paying now will be included in the credit analysis to support your ability to meet loan repayments, so ask us to start checking on a suitable lender for you.
  • Get pre-approved so you know how much you have to spend.  We provide this without cost and it provides you piece of mind when you start looking.
  • Cautionary note: We calculate that if you only contribute 5% deposit rather than 20% on a $500,000 property you will pay nearly $60,000 extra in interest over the life of the loan.  The solution is, in this low interest rate environment, to pay at least 10% more than the Principal and Interest repayment the lender requires.

It is important to know that there are several other ways you can get into your first home with a low deposit and not pay Lender’s Mortgage Insurance so call me anytime for a quick chat on 0409 02 99 22.

Good luck with finding your first home it is a very exciting time.

Most Australian borrowers don’t know the score.
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Most Australian borrowers don’t know the score.

A recent survey indicated that most borrowers are in the dark about the credit scoring system lenders use.

More than ever it is important that you spend a few minutes to find out what a lender finds out about you when you apply for credit.

You can quickly check your credit score for free at www.getcreditscore.com.au and for more detailed credit report go to www.mycreditfile.com.au.

It is also important that you understand the impact of Comprehensive Credit Reporting (CCR).

Positive (Comprehensive) Credit Reporting (CCR) was mandated by the Australian government from 1 July 2018, giving lenders access to a deeper, richer set of data enabling them to better assess a borrower’s true credit position and their ability to pay a loan.  Because of this measure it may mean you see a change in your credit score within the coming months.  Why?  Read below for a further insight into what this means for you, how it might benefit you, as well as what it means for the financial market.

So what is Comprehensive Credit Reporting (CCR)?

Right now if you were to check your credit report it, for the most part, will consist of negative information (defaults, bankruptcies etc).  CCR will introduce more data on your credit report as the regime will allow credit providers (banks & lenders) to share more of your data with a credit bureau (i.e Equifax).  Ultimately, this will provide a more complete picture of your situation, allowing credit providers to better match the credit you applied for to your circumstances.  In February 2018, NAB were the first major bank to start participating in CCR in a phased roll out. From 1 July 2018 the big four banks were required to share 50% of your credit data (they can choose which data to share) within 90 days with credit bureaus and by 1 July 2019 this increased to 100%.

Why should you be aware of CCR?

It’s important that you’re aware of these changes as they affect what’s shown on your credit report and what information can be accessed by credit providers about your credit history.  Ultimately you may see a change in your credit score as this additional information is added to your credit report (your credit score is generated based on the information in your credit report).  These changes are designed to deliver better outcomes for customers as it will increase competition throughout the financial market.

So what additional information will be added to my credit report?

Comprehensive Credit Reporting will introduce more data that reflects positive credit behaviour.  For example, more information will be available on your payment behaviour, making it easier for credit providers (i.e banks & lenders) to better match the credit you applied for to your needs & circumstances.  This will mean your credit report may show the following information on accounts like credit cards, home loans and personal loans:

  • Credit account history:
    • Type of credit account (credit card, personal loan etc)
    • Date the credit account was opened
    • Current credit limit
    • Account closed date
  • Repayment history: your loan repayment history over a period of 2 years (24 months) including any late or defaulted repayments you may have received and the date you paid the default in full.


How might this benefit you?

As more CCR information is available to be shared by lenders, it can ultimately drive market competition and result in lenders offering a better deal based on your unique credit circumstances.  In short you could be rewarded for a good credit score with a lower interest rate.  Some of our lenders already do this in the market, i.e. tailoring their personal loan rates to your unique score, take a look for yourself here.  Your credit score may also change (in a good way) as the additional data (i.e. showing that you’re paying your bills on time) may positively influence it.

While these changes are still taking place in the Australian financial market, it is not an entirely new concept.  CCR is already common practice in the United States and the United Kingdom, we are simply catching up.

Is there anything I need to do?

No.  The changes will take some time as credit providers that are allowed to use CCR, may adopt it at different times.

Do you have a Depreciation Schedule? Make sure you’re not missing out.
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Do you have a Depreciation Schedule? Make sure you’re not missing out.

With tax time rolling around, I was staggered to be informed by Bradley Beer at BMT Tax Depreciation that only 20% of property investors bother to get a Depreciation Schedule.

Obviously this means that 80% do not. This is just plain crazy!

Why leave your hard-earned in the taxman’s pocket? Even if you use an accountant, make their job easier by providing a schedule for every property.

Click here for Brad’s latest article.

Don’t forget to mention Onyx for a discount.

Also, you might be interested in a webinar BMT are running. Click here for more information.

As always, if I can assist with any finance-related issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on 0409 02 99 22 or email me at greg.clough@onyx.net.au

Greg Clough

New PICA analysis demonstrates property investors are generous contributors to government coffers
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New PICA analysis demonstrates property investors are generous contributors to government coffers

New analysis by the Property Investors Council of Australian (PICA) has detailed how much tax typical property investors pay to government under current negative gearing and Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rules.

PICA chairman Ben Kingsley said the council’s modelling showed an average Mum and Dad investor was adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to the public purse over the lifetime of a single investment property.

“The amount of federal taxes property investors pay is extraordinary and will surprise many – and that’s before state-based stamp duty and land tax costs are included, adding tens of thousands of dollars more to the bill,” Mr Kingsley said.

“Our numbers show while a typical Australian investor will benefit from negative gearing initially, they will be taxed around $167,000 in subsequent years over the full 30 years of modelling.

“It is clear that property investors do pay well above their fair share in taxes and our concern is that impost on investors is set to blow out even further if Labor’s policies see the light of day.”

Mr Kingsley said investors have been unfairly targeted throughout Labor’s and the Green’s election campaigns.

“With the majority of the nation’s 2.2 million property investors earning less than $80,000 a year, Labor’s claim about tax loopholes being for the big end of town are, frankly, insulting,” he said.

Mr Kingsley said political attacks via increased taxation on investors looking to self-fund their retirement would have far reaching economic ramifications for all Australians. It could force investors out of the market, reduce demand for property and weaken the market.

Mr Kingsley says this data proves Australian property investors contribute their fair share when it comes to government taxes.

Please see the attached media release and detailed analysis for further information. 

ANALYSIS – (PICA) – What Investors Pay Modelling Analysis

MEDIA RELEASE (PICA) Modelling shows investors pay hundreds of thousands in taxes