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Why I focused on my debt when times got tough

Published 12 August 2020

Fitness expert and celebrity trainer, Libby Babet, paused her home loan repayments when times got tough. But as soon as she could, she prioritised repaying her debt, knowing it would save her money in the long run.

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2020 was a doozy. I was already feeling financially ‘behind’ from taking time off after having a baby the previous year. Then COVID-19 hit, and the fitness industry copped it bad. This was the catalyst for me to reassess my financial priorities and make some changes.

At the start of 2020 I’d finally started to get back on top of things financially, having returned to work after recovering from an emergency C-section and caring for our newborn daughter the previous year. My husband and I sold one business to focus on our gym, The Upbeat. We built a terrific team, and finally started to get the hang of the working and parenting juggle, then, the pandemic hit…

With the arrival of COVID-19 came the complete shut-down of the fitness industry. I had to close the doors of The Upbeat for a number of months, and our family took a huge financial hit. So as soon as we could, we spoke to ANZ about putting our home loan repayments on pause for six months. This gave us the breathing space we needed to assess where we were at financially, and make a plan for recovery.

We knew that resuming our home loan repayments should be our financial priority because we understood that hitting pause is a quick-fix for the short-term but it would only increase our debt over time (because even though the repayments stop, the interest accumulating doesn’t, and you need to pay that back later).

With a little help from the ANZ Financial Wellbeing Program we’ve been able to review and adapt some of our spending and saving habits and start our home loan repayments again. We’ve also improved our financial wellbeing - and you know I’m passionate about holistic wellbeing! Feeling good is about the whole picture, not just eating your greens.

Getting back to making loan repayments at the end of the six-month pause has been a really positive milestone for us because our home is our biggest asset and we knew we could make some small sacrifices now to save our future selves taking on further debt. Here are some of the things we did:

  • Created a budget and started tracking our expenses more closely – a game changer that helped me curb personal spending
  • Shopped around and got a better deal on electricity and insurance (home and car) – SO worth the time it took!
  • Cancelled all streaming services we weren't using much – if we weren’t watching/listening multiple times a week, it was out (this was most of them, actually)
  • Itemising grocery shopping and planning meals in advance – for us this was smaller shops every couple of days for things we need, rather than a weekly shop that lead to food wastage and overspending
  • Cooking at home more – this extended to making coffees at home too
  • Started walking more and driving less – I’m feeling pretty happy with my consistent 12,000 steps per day!

Through careful planning, we’ve been able to prioritise our debt, but I know not everyone will be in the same boat. Talking to our bank really helped us through, so you could reach out too if you’re needing more help.

Here’s to feeling more in control in 2021 and making the right choices now for our long term financial wellbeing!

Need help staying on top of your home loan?

There are plenty of options to support you if you need short-term help making home loan repayments.

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The information set out above is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on the information, you should consider whether the information is appropriate for you having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. By providing this information ANZ does not intend to provide any financial advice or other advice or recommendations.  You should seek independent financial, legal, tax and other relevant advice having regard to your particular circumstances.

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