Coronavirus crisis: we answer your money questions
Another week, another raft of government announcements. Here are some of the questions you've been asking this week. You can catch up on last week's Q&A here.
1. Who is eligible for the JobKeeper payments?
If you have been stood down or retrenched since March 1, you are eligible for $1500 a fortnight JobKeeper payment, writes Susan Hely. If your employer has been shut down under government orders, they can receive money to pay their employees.
It covers full-time, part-time workers, sole traders and not-for-profits but casuals who haven't worked for the same boss for the last 12 months aren't eligible.
2. How has the coronavirus crisis affected the property market?
When the Federal Government introduced a raft of social distancing rules, including a ban on auction gatherings and open homes, the impacts were felt immediately.
"There are these new restrictions on selling, and at the same time the demand side is dropping off, with a lift in buyer caution, job losses, and job uncertainty," Domain economist Trent Wilshire tells Money.
3. What if I can't afford my private health insurance?
Many health funds have postponed the upcoming April 1 premium increase for at least six months in an effort to relieve financial pressure on Australians, writes Anthony Fleming, general manager of health insurance at Compare the Market.
Most health funds have also announced additional financial relief for those people who have lost their job, are living on a reduced income or have contracted the virus. This relief includes covering the cost of telehealth psychologist services and reimbursing emergency dental services, as well as a range of other measures.
4. Will my dividend payments be affected?
Probably. According to Alex Douglas, managing director of Monex, a number of Australian companies have announced deferrals, suspensions and cuts to their dividend programs. Some of these companies include:
- Flight Centre - cancelled a $40 million dividend payout as it gave priority to keep staff on the payroll amid closures of some travel centres
- Qantas Airways - deferred its $201 million interim dividend from April 9 until September 1
- Corporate Travel Management - deferring its dividend payment
While travel and tourism-related companies are the first to announce changes to dividend payments, analysts at Macquarie Bank are estimating about 40% of Australian listed companies may also be forced to cut or defer dividends given the current market environment.
5. My income has been cut and I can't afford my child support payments - what should I do?
For those with an informal arrangement with the other parent, it may be best to communicate any difficulties and the capacity you now have to contribute to children's expenses, says family law specialist Shannon Daykin. By both parents being open and frank about their respective circumstances and the children's needs, it will assist in coming to a joint agreement.
If you are unable to meet your child support obligations, particularly regarding a Binding Child Support Agreement, it is important that you seek independent legal advice regarding your situation as soon as possible.
6. Does income protection insurance cover me for coronavirus?
If you end up sick with coronavirus you may be covered under income protection - but only if you're off work for a longer period of time, according to Finder insurance expert Sophie Walsh.
For instance, you might require an extended hospital stay that is longer than what your annual leave allows for.
7. Should I accept a new job offer right now?
It's understandable that jobseekers are questioning if they should start a new job right now when everyone is working from home, writes Hays managing director Nick Deligiannis.
But rest assured, many employers have business continuity plans in place to allow work to continue as normal, or at least as close to normal as possible.
8. I got a phone from someone promising to give me early access to my super. What should I do?
Hang up! Fraudsters are looking to cash in on the new rules around accessing your super early, writes Harrison Worley.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had received dozens of Scamwatch reports from concerned members of the public who had been contacted by people purporting to be from various fake superannuation authorities, offering to help unaware superannuation members ensure they aren't 'locked out of their account by the new rules'.
9. My adult kids need to move back home - should I charge them board?
You may be tempted to cover your child's living expenses but resist the urge if they can take care of themselves, says financial adviser Helen Baker.
A roof over the head - coming home - creates a safe haven in a time of crisis and uncertainty that money can't buy.
Likewise, all adults are capable of doing the washing, changing sheets, taking the garbage out, washing up the dishes and cooking meals. Home is not a hotel.
10. How can I survive working from home?
You need to start by physically arming yourself for the day, says Julia Newbould.
Get dressed, do something that acts as a buffer between getting up and getting to work - read the papers online, read a book, go for a walk, do yoga, run or whatever you need to do before tackling your work day.
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