As we rang in the new year, who would’ve guessed what was in store for our country, and the world for 2020?
We’re reflecting on the year that brought us together and changed all of us in some way.
2020 started with many parts of Australia battling horrific bushfires that seemed determined to destroy our countryside, wildlife, homes and livelihoods. Brave firefighters and volunteers fought tirelessly while the rest of the country rallied together with food and clothing drives, charitable donations and disaster relief programs to support people who’d lost their homes. Mateship was well and truly alive.
Solidarity and starting over
Just as we were emerging from the smoke-filled skies, COVID-19 landed on our shores.
Every aspect of life has been touched or changed by it. How we work, travel, socialise, educate our children, our finances, job security, life goals and economic stability. We’ve had to re-learn how to do it all differently and live in an ever-changing world.
We’ve hunkered down in solidarity and stayed home to protect each other. Many of us rediscovered a slower pace and joy in the simple pleasures of life. We appreciate what we have, and if we can, we’re saving more than beforei, rather than spending on things we don’t need.
As our freedoms reduced, unemployment and financial pressures increased. Research from AMP showed almost a quarter of us weren’t financially prepared for the pandemic,ii and it’s made us focus on getting that rainy day fund up and running – to help reduce the risk of getting caught out again.
A focus on finances
We’ve entered our first recession in 30 years, with industries such as airlines and tourism going out of business, seemingly overnight. The government has responded with a range of payments and initiatives to help Australians.
But that financial support comes at a price, with AMP Chief Economist Dr Shane Oliver suggesting it could be at least 10 years before the budget is back to surplus. As the government’s financial support eases, it may be worthwhile taking steps to increase our individual financial security, such as creating good money habits and having clear goals.
The new normal
2020 has been a year of doing things differently. Masks and hand sanitiser are part of our everyday routine and words like quarantine, COVID testing and social distancing regularly pop up in conversation. All unimaginable a year ago. 2020 demonstrated how quickly things can change. It’s also brought into focus how being financially prepared can help us cope with whatever comes our way.
And as 2021 looms on the horizon, there’s no doubt we’ll be happy to say goodbye to the negative effects of COVID-19 on our health and wealth. But look forward to taking into the next year a better handle on our money, a more connected community and newfound gratitude for the simpler things in life.
i abs.gov.au ABS
ii AMP Financial Wellness, Behavioural Architects, August 2020
©AWM Services Pty Ltd. First published November 2020