Coronavirus and your finances: the questions you're asking


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If you're having trouble finding answers to how the coronavirus pandemic will affect your household budget, here are 10 money questions we've been asked this week.

1. I lost my job - can I get early access to my super?

Unemployed or underemployed Australians will be given early access to their superannuation from April.

how the coronavirus will affect your household finances

New measures released over the weekend will now allow people to apply for early access to their super if they are unemployed and or entitled to receive benefits, are made redundant, lose 20% of more of their work hours, or are sole traders who have lost 20% or more of their turnover.

People can apply online through myGov to receive up to $10,000 from their super fund before July 1, 2020.

2. How can I apply for Centrelink payments?

People desperate for information queued outside Centrelink offices and overwhelmed the MyGov website in the wake of massive job losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government last week boosted the JobSeeker payment with a coronavirus supplement of $550 extra a fortnight, which will also be provided to those who receive Youth Allowance, Parenting, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit payments.

If this is your first time navigating the Centrelink process, Money reporter David Thornton has written a how-to guide.

3. The government shut down gyms but I'm still being charged for my membership - can they do that?


"A business isn't allowed to keep charging you for a service that they're unable to provide. Your gym should offer you a suspension of fees or cancellation as they close. If you've paid fees in advance, talk to your gym about your options," says Jonathan Brown from CHOICE.

Most of the big gym chains have either put their memberships on a time-freeze, or will allow memberships to be frozen.

4. I live in an apartment building - do my neighbours have to tell me if they're sick?

Lawyer Chris Irons from Hynes Legal says there is no obligation for residents to advise the body corporate or the building management that they are self-isolating, writes Susan Hely.

There have been calls for regulations to be changed and for apartment residents to be required to notify building management if they are infected or self-isolating.

5. I bought tickets for a concert that has now been cancelled - how can I get a refund?

Consumers should be offered refunds, credit notes or vouchers in most circumstances, according to advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

However, if the event is cancelled because of government restrictions consumer rights may be affected.

6. Should I buy shares while they're cheap?

Cheap rarely means good value, and the same is true for shares.

"Many of these stocks are referred to as 'penny dreadful' stocks and for good reason," writes Dale Gillham.

7. What will this mean for the property market?

Australian residential real estate prices have yet to fall, but they will fluctuate in the next few months.

The government has imposed a ban on open homes and auctions. This could reduce the amount of stock coming onto the market. Vendors will think twice about selling with such restrictions, opting perhaps to wait and ride it out.

8. Will my SMSF be ok?

Self-managed superannuation funds are relatively well-placed to ride out the coronavirus mayhem, according to research from Rainmaker Group (publisher of Money magazine), thanks to their greater exposure to cash and low-volatility assets.

9. We've had to postpone our wedding - are we entitled to refunds?

Because of the unique nature of the current situation, if a wedding has been cancelled or reduced in size the ACCC spokesperson says you should first approach the provider of each service to see if they are prepared to offer a refund or other remedy, such as credit note or voucher, writes Julia Newbould.

10. What exactly is a recession? 

Economists will call a recession if the Australian stock market has two successive quarters where Australia's GDP has fallen. What does this mean? We're not yet in a recession.

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Melissa Allen
April 18, 2020 8.45am

I keep seeing posts about Job keeper and if your partner earns less than $80k then you will qualify (provided your Employer gets approved for it) but it doesn't mention if you're single and have earned more than the $80k whether you'll still qualify?