My parents are graziers, so I understand that in the midst of a full-blown drought, just focusing on surviving day to day, is all most people can handle.
The stark reality is, your ability to survive and recover quickly, is reliant on you making solid financial decisions.
Following are four small ways to help improve your chances of success:
1. Update your bank: Most people avoid their bank like the plague when finding it difficult to pay their loans. By keeping them up to date, they are more likely to keep supporting you. You need to know as early as possible how much they will support you. That way you can be prepared with a back-up plan.
The ideal time to speak to them is well before you start struggling, however the next best time is right now.
2. Visit your accountant: The impact of having to pay more tax than you need to mid-drought is a double whammy. Discuss how you can manage your tax and if you are truly stuck whether to request a payment plan from the ATO. Tax debts can also cause problems with your bank. Seldom will the bank lend you more money if you have a tax debt so it is important to get on top of any tax issues early
3. Review your off-farm assets such as shares, Farm Management Deposits (FMDs), other property etc and work out how to sell part or all of the asset, as a last resort. Check with your accountant and bank before taking any action, to determine any short or long term implications of selling e.g. tax, selling costs, loan security issues etc.
4. Work at staying mentally strong: As my grandfather always says, "If it doesn't rain by Christmas, I bet it will rain sometime after." The drought will end and focusing your mind on this fact is critical to be able to endure. If you are not coping, ask for help. If someone you know is not coping, ask "are you ok?" and offer help.
While I appreciate that it is so much easier said than done, working on being mentally strong is the key to making better financial decisions, giving you the best chance of success.
- Ben Law is an authorised representative of Charter Financial Planning. This article offers general advice only. You should seek advice tailored to your particular circumstances before taking action.