Manage your money
Start with trustworthy advice
Talking about money often stirs up feelings of anxiety and fear of being judged – but being honest about your money is the best way to help you figure things out.
Financial Counsellors provide free advice to help you navigate times of financial difficulty. They can offer ways to improve your financial situation, assist if you are having an issue paying bills or fines, liaise with creditors on your behalf to set up payment plans, provide advice if you have tax debts and refer you to other services for support.
If you want to speak to a financial counsellor:
Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007. You will be asked to leave your name and number and receive a call back within 10 minutes. A financial counsellor will then help you over the phone for free. They will direct you to a local service should you need ongoing support or referral for more specialist support.
Contact the Financial Counsellors Association. You will be able to arrange an appointment at your local branch, either in person or over the phone.
In addition, the Financial Counselling Network has a great website where you can find useful resources to help you figure things out, or you can locate organisations who provide free financial counselling services local to you.
Other websites worth having a look at are:
When things are getting complicated you may need advice from someone with a legal background:
The Welfare Rights and Advocacy Service can provide advice and support if you have any issues relating to Centrelink, Family Assistance, Residential Tenancy or Social Security. They offer over the phone advice or ongoing support for those cases with legal merit.
Citizens Advice Bureau can be a great starting point for legal advice on money (and other) matters.
Take back control
Keep an eye on what you spend your money on and get your friends and family on board.
Make a budget
Keeping a track of your spending so you understand where you spend your money is useful so you can make decisions about how you spend in the future and look for better deals. Consider what you can live without and redirect your finances to where you need it most. If you are a visual person, then going through your outgoings and marking them with the traffic light system can help. Find out about the traffic light system here.
Sometimes small changes can make a difference. Check out one of the many price / product comparison websites to help you chose the best options for how you spend your money:
Break the silence
Carrying the worry of your finances on your own is hard so try talking with your partner or friends about what is happening.
By opening up about your money concerns, you can learn how others manage their finances, and you may also learn that you are not alone in your struggle. Try to get your immediate household on board, so that you are on the same page, financially.
Be honest! Say you get invited out for dinner at a restaurant with friends. Instead of making an excuse not to go and feeling ashamed about your circumstances, as well as feeling guilty for lying, explain where you stand with your finances instead. Once people know, they are likely to suggest alternatives that work better for your budget, such as having a picnic, or a potluck dinner where each person brings a dish to share. Sometimes you will be surprised that others share your financial concerns.
Get an app
Track your spending with Apps that link to your bank accounts – here are some examples:
If you prefer pen and paper to a computer, then here is a guide to developing your own budget.
Access financial support
If you are in a crisis then there are services out there who can help with emergency relief for food, bills, rent which can be found through the WAConnect online directory. Or call the Emergency Relief and Food Access Service on 1800 979 777.
The Centrelink Payment and Service Finder will let you know what payments and services you might be eligible for.
Not everyone is eligible even though they need help. So, if you have found the Centrelink door closed and you are struggling financially then contact a financial counsellor about your options.
What other options are there?
No Interest Loans (NILS). Talk to the staff at WA Nils on 9263 2199 to understand your options and make an application.
Be wary of Payday lenders and other seemingly easy access loans – they may look like they are helping but there are hidden costs which will come back to bite you. Make sure you know what you are signing up for by checking out this quick guide on the National Debt Helpline website.
Rent payments. If you are having trouble paying your rent, you may be eligible for some relief Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme.
Talk to organisations that owe you money
Most organisations like banks and utility providers are open to helping you when you are struggling financially. You can discuss putting payments on hold, making a payment plan or relief packages. Call them directly or check out their website to read more about their financial hardship support. If you don’t think you would be included in the company’s hardship policy, it’s still worth giving them a call.
Before you make the call, have your income and expenses in front of you and decide what of your personal situation you will share in order to be considered for hardship. It may be difficult to talk about personal situations, however the more information the lending institute has the better they are able to make a decision.
If your hardship period has come to an end you should keep in contact with them and you can always request an additional period. If you have a fairly good idea that your financial situation will improve you will need to explain how this will happen.
It’s always a great idea to offer as much as you can as a part payment.
Sometimes it’s difficult to find what you need. Information can be buried in a website so it’s useful to use a search engine to find what you need without wasting valuable time and energy.
Tips to help you to find the information you need on the web.
Use the companies name or abbreviation e.g., Western Power, Telstra, or ANZ, NAB
The type of debt or bill: Mortgage, car loan, power bill, gas bill
Help terms: help, Financial Hardship, relief or payment plans.
Put it into a sentence: "help me pay NAB home loan" or "hardship arrangements Western Power”.
There is always someone you can talk to
If your relationship challenges move beyond disagreements and you are experiencing family and domestic violence or abuse, contact 1800Respect on 1800 737 732.
Trained counsellors will be able to provide you with confidential advice for how to stay safe.
If your relationship difficulties are linked to financial worries, contact the
National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to connect with a financial counsellor and
get tips for getting back on track.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone about feeling overwhelmed or stressed
but worry about feeling judged then you contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 any time
of the day or night or Beyond Blue on 1800 512 348 and talk anonymously to
someone who can listen. Use your time to talk about whatever is important for you.
This is a conversation on your terms.