Let’s face it, most of us were not set up to work from home and the pandemic had us hiding under our desks at first. But now that we have started to recover from the shock of it all we are finding our footing and even finding some major positives to working in a new way. In our last blog we took you through some of the practical ways to set up a dream home office. In this blog we’ll take you through the tips and advice from experts on how to make the most of the technology and finance options now available.
1. Ready, Tech, Go! (without leaving your home!)
Get equipped: Whilst it might feel like a big outlay to get properly set up, remember everything you buy for your home office is TAX deductible and having the right equipment makes all the difference to your productivity. As well as a computer, phone, printer/scanner and internet connection, you’ll also need to make sure you set up near enough power points. If you can’t, then try to run only one extension cable to your new office with a 6-outlet power board (with surge protection). Take a tip from a film set and use tape to secure the extension cord to the floor to avoid trip hazards.
Embrace video: Use apps such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams to video conference your work colleagues. The biggest bonus we have found is the “touch up my appearance” setting on Zoom that has you looking your absolute best (even if you haven’t washed your hair or worn make-up in a week!)
Zoom Pro tips - mute yourself when you aren’t talking. Use gallery mode located at the top right of your screen to see everyone on the call.
2. Separate home life from work life!
This might be the single biggest challenge of working from home. In order to be productive it’s important to create a clear distinction that maintains a work/life balance.
Separate spaces for separate purposes: You might be in one space all day but if you don’t create “zones” for work then you are not going to feel very productive during work hours and you are going to feel like you have work to do during “home hours”. So creating a separate office space will help you retain the professional and productive feeling you have in your normal office workspace. If you don’t have a separate room to use try to define a space somewhere in your home for an “office” that gives you some privacy and lessens distractions.
Investing in noise-cancelling headphones will also help to keep you focused and limit background noise and distractions. JB Hi-Fi have a good selection of headphones available online.
3. Consider the Tax Deductions!
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is now making it easy for people to claim deductions on their tax returns for working from home. The new working from home tax shortcut has been introduced due to COVID-19. This method means every person working from home (even if you’re working from the same house) can claim 80 cents per hour to cover running expenses such as gas, electricity, phone, internet and office supplies, just to name a few. All you need to do is keep a record of the hours you work from home. To find out more and calculate your deductions check here.
Pro Tip: Use an Hours Tracker app to record and track the hours you work from home. There are a good selection of FREE and paid apps in the App Store, such as nTask, Everhour, ClickTime and Toggl. Or if using an app is not your thing, simply record your hours in an Excel spread sheet.
4. Make your money work for you!
All of a sudden time is no longer money. So we all need to make better financial decisions. The good news is there are trustworthy and reliable resources available to help you make sense of it all.
Beware the scammers: Sadly scammers take advantage of innocent people and COVID-19 is no exception. Watch out for cold-call offers to assist you in accessing your Superannuation or investment opportunities with high returns. As the old adage goes: if it sounds too good to be true it probably isn’t. The only way you can access your Super is through myGov. Don’t share your myGov account details with anyone. Visit Scam Watch here for more information.
Cancellations and refunds: Cancelled your dream holiday? Visit ACCC here to find the latest information on your rights with regards to cancelled travel and events.
Financial support: As you probably heard, the Australian government announced new measures to provide support and to help workers, businesses and the community manage the financial effects of COVID-19. As well as the various forms of government financial support you can also apply with your bank to “take a holiday” and defer loan repayments or ask your landlord for rent relief. Here are the list of participating banks and their hardship support contact details.
Spreading your money further: Managing on a reduced income can be overwhelming, so preparing a budget based on your new expected income and spending will help you take the control back! Find some quick wins to reduce your spending by deferring or cancelling payments that are not essential -such as subscriptions and memberships. Money Smart has more ideas and resources to help you reduce your spending or access financial assistance.
Find the positives: Use the time you save in commuting to cook meals rather than grabbing take out. Better yet - cook in bulk and freeze leftovers. Wouldn’t it be an amazing positive outcome if this health crisis actually forced us to eat healthier, save smarter and manage our time better?! Take THAT COVID-19!
Please remember most importantly be kind to yourself and each other by staying at home. The Carlisle Homes community wishes you, our employees and their families well during this challenging time. We will get through this together (at a socially safe distance!).
If saving for a new home is still your end goal, now is a good time to explore your options with interest rates at an all time low. Our partners at Loan Studio can provide FREE, no obligation advice tailored to your personal financial situation. Have a question about a new home? Our friendly and dedicated team are here to help- simply call 132 767.