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Maintaining your financial wellbeing in times of loss

Published 31 August 2023

Loss is a part of life we'll all sadly have to deal with. But knowing you're not alone, and that there are resources available to you, can make the hard times a little easier.

Loss comes in many forms: the loss of parent or friend, a job or a relationship. Coping with loss is a deeply personal thing, however, understanding what supports are available to you and the steps you can take to get through the tough times, can help get you back on your feet, in time.

Loss of a loved one

It can be hard, but if your loved one suddenly passes away there are certain things you can do to help you cope amid the grief.

They can include:

1. Surrounding yourself with support 

Whether this be your friends, family, or a paid professional, ensuring your wellbeing is looked after should be a top priority when mourning a loved one. Reach out to people and let them know if you’re not ok.

2. Utilising compassionate/bereavement leave

In Australia, the National Employment Standardsdisclaimer give all employees, including casuals, access to compassionate leave. This can be taken if an immediate family or household member dies or develops a life-threatening illness or injury; if a baby is stillborn; if a miscarriage occurs; or if a spouse or de facto partner has a miscarriage.

3. Using or creating an emergency fund

It’s a small thing but it can make a big difference when you least expect it. Having an emergency account can give you peace of mind if any unforeseen expenses emerge and allow you to focus on the things that matter. If you have the means, consider putting away a small portion of money on a regular basis for future costs.

Loss of income

Redundancies and job loss are an unfortunate reality of the working world. It can be a stressful time – both emotionally and financially – but staying on top of your money can help keep you afloat until another opportunity arises.

Some things to consider include:

1. Will you receive a payout?

If so, how much will it be and when is it likely to land in your account? By planning ahead, you can budget for any upcoming expenses and figure out how much money you have. If you need a hand, our free budget builder tool lets you create a budget in minutes.

2. What are your regular payments and how can you make them work?

If you have a mortgage or are paying rent, you may need to plan ahead to ensure you can make these payments on time. If you’re struggling, you might be able to contact your bank or rental provider and ask for a reduction on your payments as a short-term solution until you’re back on your feet. ANZ’s guide to the 50-30-20 rule could give you some useful budgeting tips, too.

3. Make a plan

Once you’ve had time to process such a major life shift, consider making a plan about your future. Think about how you will pay bills, find a new income or job and stay on top of your mental health. It can be hard, but saving money when you’re on a budget is doable if you have a plan to stick to.

4. Speak to a financial advisor

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, speaking to a financial advisor may help. It’s their job to understand your finances and help come up with a plan that works for you. Our handy personal banking calculator and tools could also be useful to you.

Loss of relationship

Going through a separation or divorce can be really tough. While the emotional strain of a relationship breakdown can linger, the financial burden doesn’t have to.

Here are some things you’ll need to think about in the event of a divorce or break-up:

1. Set a budget for yourself

It can be stressful to think about money after the breakdown of a relationship but setting yourself a clear budget can help elevate financial strain. Remember, the full cost of everyday expenses like rent or mortgage and groceries may need to be factored in, as well as any new costs if you’re moving out or taking on new expenses as you transition to your new stage of life.

2. Expect extra costs

The divorce or separation process can quickly become expensive, so allowing extra money for things like legal documents and lawyers, could help make your situation easier.

3. Organise your accounts

If you had a joint bank account or credit card with your significant other, it can be daunting trying to separate them when things aren’t so amicable. However, doing so may help ensure your financial safety and that you don’t inherit any unwanted debt or lose any funds.

4. Look after yourself

A number of resources are available to people experiencing relationship and family hardship, including via the government’s Family Relationships Online portaldisclaimer. If you or your children are affected by violence, or are in danger, you should seek help immediately. In an emergency, you can call 000 for the police. You can also call 1800 RESPECTdisclaimer for details on support and safe refuge in your state or territory.

So while there’s no right way to cope with loss, knowing you will get through it and taking small steps to help make your situation a little easier, can help.

Feel more in control

When coping with loss, with the right support, building a budget can be one of the first steps to help get you through to happier times.

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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. 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.