Libby Babet is a celebrity trainer who appeared on The Biggest Loser: Transformed, a business owner and mum of one. Here, she writes for The Latch about the financial hardships she faced in 2020 and how she got her finances back on track.
2020 was a doozy. Starting the year I was so excited about the prospect of growth with my business, and a new year of memories to be made with my young family.
Taking time off in 2019 as a new mum to focus on my daughter Izzy meant I was coming into 2020 already feeling a little financially ‘behind’. But I was excited to stabilise and prioritise growth in my wellbeing.
Then COVID-19 hit, and the fitness industry copped it bad. This was the catalyst for me to reassess my financial priorities and make some changes as my family and home were on the line.
Labelling March 2020 as a juggling act is an understatement. With the arrival of COVID-19 came the complete shut-down of the fitness industry. I had to close the doors of our gym, The Upbeat, for a number of months and our family took a huge financial hit.
I had to streamline my business and transition to an online coaching model to keep money coming in, all while caring for my daughter at home as childcare centres were closed too.
So when it was offered, it just made sense to take ANZ up on the COVID-19 support they were providing, allowing us to pause our mortgage repayments for six months. We were so relieved to have this breathing space, financially, as it meant one less thing to worry about.
While we paused the home loan out of necessity in the short-term, we knew that doing so would increase the amount needing to be repaid on our loan in the long run. So when things became a little more stable, my business was open once again and people returned to face-to-face training, I knew I had to get back on top of my finances.
Recommencing our home loan repayments was our first priority (as our home is our most valuable asset), and it was a really positive milestone for us.
I reviewed and adapted some of our spending and saving habits, ultimately improving our financial wellbeing (and you know I’m passionate about holistic wellbeing – feeling good is about the whole picture, not just eating your greens). We knew that we could make some small sacrifices now to save our future-selves from taking on further debt.
Here are some of the things we changed so we could plug spending leaks and get back to paying our mortgage again:
Create a Budget
We started tracking our expenses more closely and it was a game changer that helped me curb my personal spending.
We’re told it all the time but shopping around really does pay off. Doing it got us a better deal on our electricity and insurance (home and car). It was SO worth the time it took!
Overhaul Streaming Services
We cancelled all streaming services we weren’t using much. If we weren’t watching/listening multiple times a week, it was out (this was most of them, actually).
Itemise Grocery Shopping
We started doing this as well as planning an advance. For us, this meant smaller shops every couple of days for things we need, rather than a weekly shop that led to food wastage and overspending.
Cooking at Home
Doing this saved us money and it extended to making coffees at home too.
We started walking more and driving less. I’m feeling pretty happy with my consistent 12,000 steps per day!
Through careful planning, we’ve been able to prioritise our debt, but I know not everyone will be in the same boat. Talking to our bank really helped us through, so you could reach out to yours too if you’re needing more help.
Here’s to feeling more in control in 2021 and making the right choices now for our long term financial wellbeing.