How The Block’s Bianca Chatfield is saving for a house during COVID-19

author-avatar By on August 07, 2020
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How The Block’s Bianca Chatfield is saving for a house during COVID-19

Image supplied. Pictured: Bianca Chatfield with partner Mark Scrivens.

Saving up for a house isn’t easy at the best of times, but when a global pandemic strikes your earnings, it’s even harder.

When the news started trickling out of Wuhan about a highly contagious virus, former contestant from The Block Bianca Chatfield had just sold her renovated apartment in Melbourne’s Kew and was thinking about making her next move on the property ladder.

“I had sold a property in December and the first thing I wanted to do was start getting ready to look at a small house/renovation project to purchase early this year,” she told Savings.com.au.

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“But when COVID-19 hit, I had to revisit my budget and really take a step back from making that major financial decision.

Chatfield, who is a former professional Australian netball player and an ANZ Financial Wellbeing Ambassador, said like many people, she has felt the financial impacts of the pandemic.

“The world that I work in either involves sport or working with teams of people, so when COVID-19 hit I was really worried about my income and my future,” Chatfield said.

“New ANZ research has revealed that young Australians are feeling the financial impacts of COVID-19 most, with 44% aged 14-39 saying they had been stood down or had their pay or work hours reduced between March and May 2020.

“I can definitely relate to this. I have always lived a very busy life, mostly taking on freelance type projects - I had a very full schedule at the start of the year, once COVID-19 hit and there was no sport, no speaking engagements etc, I was confronted with a very different world to what I have known.”

She said that using ANZ’s Financial Wellbeing Check-In helped her come to terms with her financial situation and get back on track with her goal of saving for a house by following a few easy steps.

Buying a home or looking to refinance? The table below features home loans with some of the lowest variable interest rates on the market for owner-occupiers.

Lender
Advertised rate Comparison rate Monthly repayment Rate TypeOffsetRedrawOngoing FeeUpfront FeesLVRLump Sum RepaymentAdditional RepaymentsPre-approval

VariableMore details
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
VariableMore details
100% FULL OFFSET ACCOUNTNO APPLICATION FEE OR ONGOING FEES

Low Rate Home Loan - Prime (Principal and Interest) (Owner Occupied) (LVR < 60%)

  • No upfront or ongoing fees
  • 100% full offset account
  • Extra repayments + redraw services
100% FULL OFFSET ACCOUNTNO APPLICATION FEE OR ONGOING FEES

Low Rate Home Loan - Prime (Principal and Interest) (Owner Occupied) (LVR < 60%)

  • No upfront or ongoing fees
  • 100% full offset account
  • Extra repayments + redraw services
VariableMore details
REFINANCE IN MINUTES, NOT WEEKS

Nano Home Loans Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)

  • Refinance only. Fast online application
  • No Nano fees. Free 100% offset sub account
  • Mobile app, Visa debit card & instant payments
REFINANCE IN MINUTES, NOT WEEKS

Nano Home Loans Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)

  • Refinance only. Fast online application
  • No Nano fees. Free 100% offset sub account
  • Mobile app, Visa debit card & instant payments
VariableMore details
YOU COULD WIN $100k TO PAY DOWN YOUR LOAN*

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • For a chance to win $100K towards your home loan, apply with Athena before Oct 31 & be approved by Dec 15
  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
YOU COULD WIN $100k TO PAY DOWN YOUR LOAN*

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • For a chance to win $100K towards your home loan, apply with Athena before Oct 31 & be approved by Dec 15
  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
VariableMore details
AN EASY ONLINE APPLICATION

Yard Home Loan (Principal and Interest) (Special) (LVR < 70%)

  • Unlimited additional repayments
  • Unlimited free redraws
  • Optional 100% offset can be added for $120 p.a.^
AN EASY ONLINE APPLICATION

Yard Home Loan (Principal and Interest) (Special) (LVR < 70%)

  • Unlimited additional repayments
  • Unlimited free redraws
  • Optional 100% offset can be added for $120 p.a.^

Rates correct as of October 27, 2021. View disclaimer.

Make a budget

When you’ve got a savings goal as substantial as a house, it’s important to set a budget and be prepared to make sacrifices.

“This is even more important during these challenging times so I’ve had to take a good look at my finances and decide what are necessary and unnecessary expenses,” Chatfield said.

“I’m happy to admit I have been fairly naïve in the past and never really sat down and worked through my financial goals.”

She said that when she did, she realised she was spending money on things she wasn’t using anymore.

“Checking in with my budget was something I hadn’t done in quite a while, but when Covid-19 hit, it forced me to revisit my finances, which is when I uncovered a few obvious areas to save.

“For instance, myself and my partner Mark were both paying for individual Netflix subscriptions – even though we live together, as well as Kayo and Stan.”

Cut out non-essentials

Eliminating things she wasn’t spending money on anymore, like unused streaming subscriptions, and instead popping that money away into a savings account has helped her get ahead.

“Simple steps like cutting back on our subscriptions, ordering less takeaway and shopping less online have helped us. I would say we have saved at least a couple of hundred dollars over a month, and then I’ve kept that going,” Chatfield said.

“For me, one thing I could do was funnel a bit of the money saved on takeaway and subscriptions into a small renovation account. 

“I wanted to make sure I was putting a little bit of that money that I was saving from my subscriptions and no online shopping, and then transferring a little bit into a renovation account so that hopefully when I buy, I have that renovation account ticking away and adding up.”

Spend with care

While Chatfield concedes it’s not possible to cut your spending entirely, you can be more careful with how you spend.

“Knowing your non-negotiables like rent, food etc and then having the negotiables that you weigh up on whether you really need it. You can be extra aware of where your hard-earned money goes. It all adds up,” Chatfield said.

“Reducing the cost of your needs doesn’t always have to come with extreme sacrifice if you look for ways to reduce, reuse or renegotiate your essential spending. It’s about spending with care.”

However, she does admit to spending more money on coffee.

“It’s the only reason to be out of the house some days!”

Remember your savings goal

For a former netball player, keeping one eye firmly on the goal should be easy. But Chatfield admits it’s been hard to stay positive during the pandemic.

“I’m sure everyone is feeling that at the moment, but focusing on the things I can control and am enjoying at the moment has helped me with my mindset during the pandemic,” she said.

“Making sure I am in control of what I'm spending and understanding my financial situation has played a really big part in my overall wellbeing.”

She said that setting a clear savings goal has kept her focused.

“It’s about sitting down and going, ‘Okay, this is what’s going to happen. This is what you can control right now and this is what you can’t control.

“I’m getting there, but it’s a process. It’s about taking little steps to take control of your financial wellbeing in order to reach your goals.”

Being realistic about how much money you can afford to put away is also important, particularly right now when many people have either lost their income or had it reduced.

“If I want to purchase a new property, it's going to take some adjustments to my spending and make sure that the properties I am looking at are within my reach and not going to put me under unnecessary financial pressure,” Chatfield said.


Disclaimers

The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:

  • The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
  • The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2020. They are (in descending order): Great Southern Bank, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
  • The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2020) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.
  • If you click on a product link and you are referred to a Product or Service Provider’s web page, it is highly likely that a commercial relationship exists between that Product or Service Provider and Savings.com.au

Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site.

In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au, Performance Drive and Loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.

*Comparison rate is based on a loan of $150,000 over a term of 25 years. Please note the comparison rate only applies to the examples given. Different loan amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees and costs savings, such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan.

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author-avatar
Emma Duffy is Assistant Editor at Your Mortgage and  Your Investment Property Mag, which are part of the Savings Media Group. In this role, she manages a team of journalists and expert contributors committed to keeping readers informed about the latest home loan and finance news and trends, as well as providing in-depth property guides. She is also a finance journalist at Savings.com.au which she joined shortly after its launch in early 2019. Emma has a Bachelor in Journalism and has been published in several other publications and been featured on radio.

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