Getting your pocket back on track
Quick Web Links
National Debt Helpline
Financial Counselling Network
Financial Counsellors Association
Talking about money is not something that comes naturally to any of us, stirring up feelings of anxiety. If you are in a financial struggle the last thing you want to do is share with others for fear of being judged. But being honest about your money is the best way to help you figure things out. Speaking to a professional can help you work it out when things are complicated, or maybe its talking to your energy provider about a hardship package or learning from your mates a better way to manage your money in the future. Talking money is the key to it all.
“I just need someone to tell me what to look at first and then I can do it myself”
“There are just too many people to talk to and I don’t know where to start, its just all too much. ”
Finances a mess and stressing you out? Get some free advice...
Financial counsellors are skilled professionals who can help you work through your financial concerns.
What can a Financial counsellors do for you?
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.
Financial Counsellors provide free advice to help you navigate times of financial difficulty. You should never pay for financial counselling services. They can’t offer legal advice on money matters, you would need to speak to a lawyer or contact Citizens advice on 9221 5711.
If you want to speak to a financial counsellor you can contact;
Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007– you will be asked to leave you 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.
Search for a local provider
Financial Counsellors Association has a navigation tool to identify your local provider and the contact details for them. Contact a service directly to arrange an appointment. Don’t worry if your local branch doesn’t have the availability you want, you can organise a phone appointment with any branch.
The Financial Counselling Network have 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.
The Network also recommend some useful tips to help you during COVID here
If you want to use this time to brush up your skills on money management, you can book into one of their financial wellbeing workshops here. These are designed to give you some tips and tools to become more financially resilient.
Confused by who does what and the financial lingo?
Financial counsellors are on occasion confused with financial planners or financial advisers but the services provided are quite different.
Financial counsellors provide advice for free. They work with people who need help with their debts or are not able to meet their ongoing expenses.
Financial planners/advisers provide advice to people for a fee. They provide investment and planning advice to help you grow your wealth.
Accountants provide assistance on financial decisions, tax returns and other money related issues for a fee.
Other websites worth having a look at:
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, Social Security. They offer over the phone advice or ongoing support for those cases with legal merit. www.wraswa.org.au
Need financial assistance right now
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.
“I have lost track of what I spend”
“I just tap and go. I don't really check what I'm spending and just assume it's ok until my card declines, then I will have a look at my account.”
Take back control
Keep an eye on what you spend your money on.
You may not have thought about your spending before but there are plenty of free tools and Apps out there that make budgeting easier and even less boring. They help you to know what you have and know what you spend. Most banks offer internet banking which allows you to easily access your account information and transactions regularly, some even group them into categories so you can see where you tend to spend most of your money.
Get an App
Track your spending with Apps that link to your bank accounts – these ones have been recommended by Canstar for 2020:
Pocket book – it’s completely free so no need to add another payment plan to your outgoings
Money Brilliant – choose the Basic Plan for a free version which gives a good starting point
Good Budget – make sure you select Free Plan which will give you what you need for a basic budgeting tool.
Make a budget
If you prefer pen and paper to a computer, then here is a guide to developing your own budget.
Wants vs needs
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.
Get the family involved
Sometimes small changes can make a difference. Talk to your family about what each of you might be able to do to bring down your spending. Saving money on regular spending such as your food shopping, internet data and device plans, health insurance are a good place to start.
Make the most of special offers
Change to a more affordable brand
Do a wants vs needs exercise to see what you could live without.
Compare insurance funds and internet plans with one of the many comparison websites....
That money can then be redirected into a savings account to help create a nest egg that you can fall back on if times get tricky again. You might use that money to give yourself a break.
“Money is a private thing!”
“It's really embarrassing to tell my friends that I can't afford to go out to dinner. So I just lie and tell them that I am feeling sick.”
Take the time to talk money....or lack of
Sometimes you will be surprised that others are thinking the same thing
Talking about money stirs up a feeling of anxiety in most of us. If your finances cause you stress and anxiety it is natural to want to keep it to yourself for fear of judgement from others.
Break the silence
We are discouraged form talking about it but if you want to improve your financial situation it is necessary. By breaking the silence and talking to others you can learn how they manage their finances and you may also learn that you are not alone in your struggle.
Carrying the worry of your finances on your own is hard so try talking with your partner or friends about what is happening.
Be more honest about your money
Say you get invited out for dinner with friends. Instead of making an excuse not to go and feeling ashamed about your circumstances, as well as feeling guilty for lying, be honest about where you stand with your finances instead. Once people know then they are likely to suggest alternatives that work better for your budget or consider other options like inviting people over and order takeout or ask everyone to bring a dish to share.
Make small changes without sacrificing what makes you happy
You may need to make some changes to the way you spend your money for a little while so it's good to get the whole family on board. Having money meetings with your family means you are all on the same page, financially.
All getting a bit much?
If it is all just getting a bit much and you are feeling overwhelmed, then reach out to;
Lifeline – Calling Lifeline on 13 11 14 gives you the chance to talk to a real person on the phone 24/7, you don’t have to give your name and you can talk about pretty much anything, there are no expectations that you have to keep in touch or call again.
Have a look at their website for ideas or to help you understand that it’s OK to feel not OK. www.lifeline.org.au
Beyond Blue - This is a great website full of useful resources, whether you want to do your own reading or be linked to someone to talk to about the impacts of coronavirus on your life.
You can call them on 1800 512 348 or chat online.
“I lost my job when my employer cut the team and I need some support to cover my bills”
“I have never been on benefits before. I am sure things will pick up soon, but I don't know how long I will be out of work.”
Access financial support
Government initiatives are in place to help
If you have recently lost your income or job and had reduced shifts because of Coronavirus you will need to register for Income support online. The State, Federal and local governments have implemented a swag of financial supports to people struggling financially through this time.
Get up to date reliable information
These are being reviewed and amended regularly. To keep up to date have a look at:
Government financial support includes:
Job Seeker payment – eligibility for this has been expanded temporarily
Job Keeper payments – provided to employers to enable them to keep employees in their jobs. Eligibility continues to change so talk to your employer if you think this might be an option for you.
Temporary Coronavirus supplement -increased income support for those eligible. You will already be receiving this if you are receiving other income support. Have a look at the fact sheet for more information
Payments for pensioners and retirees
Payments for homebuilders
Financial help for tenants or boarders. You may be eligible if you lost your job on or after 20th March 2020, you have less than $10,000 in personal savings and your pay 25% or more of your current after-tax income in rent per week. Have a look here for more information.
A simple guide to supplements
If you want to read something that isn’t government speak then check out these helpful fact sheets on the different financial supplements that are available.
Check your eligibility
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.
Early access to superannuation
The Federal government are making it possible for you to access your Superannuation early should you need to make mortgage payments, pay off credit cards and other essential services to prevent financial crisis. Be aware that there is a strict criterion outlining access, have a look at the Treasury fact sheet for more details. If you think this is something you might want to do then go to the MyGov Website for more information.
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 or have a look at www.wanils.com.au for more information.
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.
Banks - Most banks offer support for mortgage payments, just check out their financial hardship pages or call in to talk to a staff member at your bank.
Utility Providers - Contact your utility and essential service providers to let them know what’s going on, they have hardship arrangements too.
Rent payment - Having trouble paying you rent, you may be eligible for some relief Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme
"If only I could just take the pressure off for a couple of months, things would seem a bit more manageable"
Talk to organisations you owe money
Most organisations like banks, water, power etc. are open to helping you through this time. 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 companies Hardship policy, its still worth giving them a call.
Before you make the call have your income and expenses before 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.
Its always a great idea to offer as much as you can as a part payment.
Sometimes its difficult to find what you need. Information can be buried in a website so its 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 eg. Western Power, Telstra or ANZ, NAB
The type of debt or bill: Mortgage, car loan, power bill, gas bill
Help terms: COVD-19, COVID, help, Financial Hardship, relief or payment plans
Put it into a sentence: "help me during covid NAB home loan" or "help me during covid western power bill".