Lockdown yo-yo – spinning up and down through the COVID-19 levels – can be pretty tough. Especially when it affects our people, livelihoods and wellbeing.

But if the pandemic has taught us any positives, it’s that it’s easier to change our behaviours than we once thought. Applying regular guidelines to live by, we've become used to sanitising our hands and wearing masks on public transport.

The same goes for money. A few simple changes – like paying ourselves first and building some flexibility into the budget for some wants – can bring positive change towards achieving our goals.

Get back to your ‘why’

As a country, we have a goal to keep COVID-19 out of Aotearoa. There’s been a clearly communicated plan to reach this goal. We know what works during lockdowns: staying home, washing hands and getting tested.

We’ve been here before, but we’ve also made great progress towards our goal, especially with the vaccine rollout now in sight.

Despite the progress, last March feels like a long time ago, and we’re still fighting. It’s easy to feel exhausted, to feel over the lockdown yo-yo.

When working towards our goals gets tough, it’s important to come back to our ‘why’. What’s our goal, and why is it so important to us to reach it? In this case, it’s because we’re saving lives.

When it comes to your money, the same applies – it’s about having a goal, knowing your why, and having a clear plan, despite yo-yoing along the way.

A 10-year goal of mine is saving for a house deposit. It’s a clear goal, but in order to reach it, it’s also important for me to understand my ‘why’.

My ‘why’ is threefold. I want a dog, and it can be hard to find rentals that allow pets. I want to own my own home by the time I retire (which is about 30 years away – and that feels pretty close when I put it in the context of a 30-year mortgage). Finally, I want to be able to provide a safe place for people who need it – for friends, family and neighbours.

What works for you and your goals?

Then, I need to know what works, what will get me there. For me, it’s paying myself first.

It’s knowing what investment strategy is right for my timeframe and goal. I’ve set up my KiwiSaver specifically for this goal – choosing a fund that has low fees and a level of risk I’m comfortable with for my time frame. I’ve also bumped up my contributions to 8%.

I’m taking advantage of this lockdown to supercharge my saving by avoiding the supermarket in favour of using up what’s in the cupboard, as well as curbing transport costs and impulse purchases.

Lastly, it’s about taking that first step. Three years ago, someone said to me, “Next year you’ll wish you’d started today.” I realised they were 100% right. It helped me to feel prepared for the potentially bumpy road ahead.

I know it’s not going to happen overnight – just like keeping our people safe from COVID-19. Sometimes it feels exhausting, and like we’ll never get there.

But I keep thinking of the puppy I’ll get to love one day, living mortgage-free in retirement and having some space to take care of the people I love. It motivates me to keep saving and focused on goals and staying my course.

Catch your yo-yo at the top

Lockdown can be rough. I would love to see my friends, especially those taking it hard, or just to give my mum a hug. To stay focused on the goal, I think about the lives we’re saving, how lucky we are to be living in Aotearoa.

We’ve had more freedom over the last year than so many others because of our work to stay on track to reaching our goal. So I stay home during lockdown, wash my hands, and I’ve been tested twice (both negative; I’m so grateful).

Saving for a goal can be rough too. It might mean some extra planning, maybe a bit of admin, and learning to let things go when they aren’t in line with your priorities.

It helps to keep your mind on the why, while remembering to make some time for the important things – calling your favourite people, sending a smile over the fence and taking a deep breath can help to get you through the ups and downs.

Kia kaha, e hoa mā, especially to our friends in Auckland on the level 3 yo-yo once more. Stay home, save lives, and maybe if you have a moment, take a look at your money goals and get thinking on what's your ‘why’.

If your money situation has been affected by Covid-19, head to the COVID-19 financial support tool. You’ll be able to get up-to-date info on the support that’s available to you.

Prefer to talk to someone? The team at Money Talks are just a phone call away – they provide free and confidential support with money matters.

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