8 July, 2020

Math 2.0 Day

Today, Wednesday 8th of July, is Math 2.0 Day.

Math 2.0 Day is a celebration of the blending of mathematics and technology. Think of calculators, cars, computer programs, airplanes, the self-serve check out at the supermarket …the list goes on.

As a financial counsellor, I use math every day - I have 2 calculators on my desk!

I use math when I complete a budget and when I analyze a person’s income and expenses. I use math when I go through statements, utility bills and when I work out affordable payment arrangements and hardship options. Math pops up everywhere during my day.

On this day, Math 2.0 Day, consider combining math and technology to help your financial situation.

On the Moneysmart website is an interactive Budget Planner where you can enter your income and expenses to create your own budget. By combining math and technology, the Budget Planner allows you to view your expenses annually, quarterly, monthly, fortnightly or weekly, to help you take the first steps towards getting on top of your finances.

To access the Moneysmart Budget Planner follow the attached link to the Moneysmart website.

By Sam

7 July, 2020

Pay Day Loans during a Pandemic

Unscrupulous Pay Day Lenders have been caught out using the current global pandemic to market their products.

With many Australian’s facing ongoing financial uncertainty, some day pay day lenders have come to the party offering quick, short term loans to ease the financial stress brought on by COVID-19.

As a financial counsellor, this makes my skin crawl.

Along with paying back the original amount, pay day lenders also charge high interest rates, lender’s fees, defer payment fees, default fees, etc.

Within my role, I have seen pay day loans snowball into more than triple the amount originally borrowed.

If you are struggling financially and you need funds to pay for an expense, there are alternative options available.

Other options include:

- NILS (No Interest Loan)

- Speckle Loan

- Step Up Loan

- Household Relief Loan

If you are struggling to afford essential living expenses, it may also be worthwhile booking an appointment with a financial counselor to discuss your options. To book a free appointment, call the Affordable SA Helpline on 1800 025 359 or search for Financial Counselling at the Affordable SA website.

For more information about how pay day lenders are targeting vulnerable Australians, see the attached article from ABC news.

By Sam

6 July, 2020

The Second Wave

At the end of April 2020, approximately 6.8 million Australians received the first COVID-19 Economic Support Payment of $750. On the 10 July 2020, approximately 5 million eligible Australians will receive the second COVID-19 Economic Support Payment of $750.

If you are one of the eligible Australians who is going to receive the $750 payment in July, have you decided how you are going to spend the money?

One way to think about it - what expenses do you have that have consequences if you do not pay?

- Rent

- Credit commitments (e.g. mortgage, car loan, personal loan, credit card, etc.)

- Council rates

- Electricity

- Gas

- Water

- Car registration

- Driver’s license

- Car repairs

- Fines

- School fees, etc.

Everyone has different priorities about how they choose to spend their money.

If you are going to receive the $750 in July, it is important to have a good think about how you are going to spend these funds.

If you have outstanding debts for any of the above expenses and you feel overwhelmed just reading the above list, consider speaking to a financial counsellor to discuss your options.

Financial counsellors provide a free and confidential service. To find a financial counsellor near you, see the attached link to Financial Counselling Services on the Affordable SA website.

By Sam

18 June, 2020

Foodbank on the road in SA

Foodbank, South Australia’s largest distributor of donated produce is hitting the road and heading to the North of the state. The new mobile food hub service will be available in Clare, Kadina, Riverland and Port Lincoln, as part of a new pilot program.

This service is due to roll out from the 1st July and service the community every two weeks within these regions.

Foodbank SA is a not for profit Food Rescue organisation, assisting the community with affordable, low cost groceries as well as reduce food waste. They have warehouses where welfare agencies can purchase low cost groceries to feed their communities and clients in Whyalla, Riverland, Mt Gambier and Edwardstown.

There are also Food Hubs that are smaller stores across the state in Mt Gambier, Elizabeth, Bowden, Edwardstown, Christies Beach and Whyalla. People in need can access these stores via referral from agencies such as The Salvation Army and those funded by the SA Government for Emergency Relief. Importantly these Hubs offer a dignified shopping experience and clients can have up to 15kg of free fruit and veg, 1-2 loaves of bread for free and then all other items have a small price. These items include dairy, frozen, meat, sanitary and hygiene items, non-perishable food, every day essentials and animal food. Ready made meals are also available for those unable to cook.

Port Lincoln and surrounding regions don’t have access to Foodbank Food Hubs and those in need had to travel long distances to obtain food assistance, often spending more on petrol than they could afford. Local regional agencies such as The Red Cross would help to bring packages to charities in smaller towns in these regions but this new program will provide a better, more direct solution.

This low cost food assists people to save money on their shopping bills. Money they can then put towards other expenses. These savings combined with other services such as Financial Counselling and personal support programs can make a real and lasting difference for the future of someone struggling to make ends meet. Having these mobile hubs visiting regional SA areas will help charities provide the same level of food assistance that is available in Adelaide.

Foodbank is currently identifying other key areas of which the Mobile Food Hub can visit in the future.

For more information about how to contact the services that can help you with cost of living issues ring the Affordable SA Helpline on 1800 025 539 or browse the Affordable SA website. You can also download the free Affordable SA App to help you access this information from the palm of your hand. Affordable SA has been developed by South Australians and proudly staffed by South Australians, for our communities.

by Graeme

17 June, 2020

Getting back to the Shed

Appropriately during Men's Health Week we are hearing the sounds of bolts sliding and the creak of the shed door opening again as COVID-19 restrictions are cautiously being relaxed in South Australia.

Not just four walls holding up a tin roof, the Men's Shed has been a success in unleashing mens need to create, learn and have a chat about it. This week many sheds are reopening after a tools down forced tea-break because of COVID-19.

Many men go fishing, help a mate fix a car or watch the footy with a mate (about all we can do at the moment). We men seem to need a prop or a cause in order to have a chat and open up to our fears and what's really going on in our lives. The Men's Shed has given many of us a place to share stuff happening in our lives and help each other. It's not just a place for the tool skilled, there is a wealth of knowledge and life experience to be shared at your local Men's Shed. To be honest it has got many through a rough period of their lives and most likely saved quite a few lives by simply having a mate lending an ear.

During Mens Health Week I have been catching up with the latest shed's podcast "theshedwireless" which believes that by getting a few blokes together we can fix anything from a wobbly flat pack bookshelf to relationships, our health as well as the ozone layer. A special shout out from the boys at the shed to the Men's Shed at Quorn in South Australia. There is most likely more saw dust than substance but a few good chips of common sense will always prevail.

While your here browse through Affordable SA website and download the App to find the many services that can help men specifically and many other services that can help manage the problems we all face with money and finance, food and everyday living expenses or ring the Affordable SA Helpline 1800 025 539.

By Graeme

15 June, 2020

A little bit more...

The Coronavirus Supplement will be paid automatically up until the 24 September 2020.

Is the extra $550 per fortnight from the Coronavirus Supplement giving you a little bit of extra wiggle room in your budget?

If it is, it might be a great time to get ahead on your essential living expenses.

Essential living expenses don’t go away. As long as you keep lighting your gas stove, switching on your kettle and turning on your shower, these costs will continue to incur.

Electricity, gas and water have usage costs. Each time you receive a water, electricity or gas bill, the bill will tell you how much you have used in the last 3 months. Keep in mind that we are heading into winter, so your usage costs may increase.

If you contact your utility provider, they may be able to provide you with your fortnightly usage cost ($) (e.g. the amount of electricity, gas or water you use within a fortnight).

From a budgeting point of view, many people set upfortnightly payment arrangements to cover the ongoing cost of their utility bills. By setting up fortnightly payment arrangements, this can help to reduce the effect of what we call “bill shock” – the large unpleasant bill you receive every 3 months that leaves you scrambling for money.

If you know the average fortnightly cost of your electricity, gas and water and you have a bit of extra wiggle room in your budget, it might be worthwhile putting a few extra dollars per fortnight on top of your usage costs, towards these expenses. The extra contribution per fortnight may help to offset the effect that September may have on your financial situation.

For more information about the energy market, energy efficiency, contracts, bills and prices see the attached link to Energy Made Easy.

By Sam

3 June, 2020

Deferred debt - Interview with Karyn Hicks

This stage into the COVID-19 pandemic we are hearing a lot on the Affordable SA Helpline about people struggling with deferred debt.

ABC Radio's Afternoon presenter Sonia Feldhoff spoke recently to Karyn Hicks, a Financial Counsellor for The Salvation Army's Moneycare program about deferred debt and what is of greatest concern for renters in managing their situation. Listen to the interview below.

Like all deferred debt, such as credit cards, loans and even current rental payment deferrals with your landlord during the pandemic, there comes a time to make good, to pay off your debt or rent owed. If people have been utilising extra payments from the Government to pay off some of their debt and rent then you may have this in hand but if not you may have been accumulating debt at a fast rate that could see you with an even bigger problem in the coming months as things return to some form of normality.

If you think you are headed for financial woe or are starting to see the signs of trouble ahead with debt seeking early help from a financial counsellor might be the best thing to do. Financial Counselling is free, confidential and independent. They are here to help you and can help you get back on your feet with a money plan.

People are managing this major crisis reasonably well but some are experiencing financial difficulty and feeling pressure from creditors or landlords as they struggle to manage or are entering into unreasonable payments that they simply cannot achieve. Karyn says that "if you are feeling pressured there are avenues to take such as seeking help from a financial counsellor or assistance from TIAS", the Tenants Information and Advisory Service. TIAS is also a free and independent service, and assists people to maintain their tenancies in private rental, community housing, public housing, housing cooperatives and boarding houses.

TIAS provides advice, guidance and advocacy regarding:

- Leases

- Bond disputes

- Property maintenance

- SACAT processes

- Rent arrears

- SA Housing authority processes and appeals

- Community housing processes and appeals

They are here to help South Australians so they get the Affordable SA thumbs up.

See the Affordable SA App (free to download) or website for more information about the help that is available to South Australians such as financial counsellors from Moneycare 1800 722 363, the National Debt Helpline 1800 007 007 or if you need help negotiating problems with your rent TIAS, the Tenant Information & Advisory Service 1800 060 462.

By Graeme

1 June, 2020

Say Something Nice...

The first half of this year has undoubtedly knocked us all for six.

In one way or another, our lives have changed.

4 months ago, more people were employed, more small businesses were open, people had holidays booked, athletes were getting ready for the Olympics, couples were planning their weddings, a lot less people worked from home, there were more airplanes in the sky and you didn’t have to worry about whether or not you could buy toilet paper.

We have all seen great change in our day to day lives and that takes a fair bit of resilience.

With COVID-19 having a significant impact on people’s mental health, it is important now more than ever that we look out for one another.

Today, June 1st is ‘Say Something Nice Day’.

So take a moment to say something nice, not just to others but also to yourself.

Be kind to yourself and those around you.

Check up on your friends, neighbours and family members to see how they are doing.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, see the attached link to the COVID-19 Virtual Support Network

By Sam

1 June, 2020

Coming out of the COVID-19 fog

As the days pass with no new cases and with restrictions starting to ease, we find ourselves slowly emerging from the surreal fog that was COVID-19.

But what happens when the fog clears and things return to 'normal'?

What is going to happen to the 40,000 South Australians that have lost their jobs due to COVID-19?

Many South Australians are coming face to face with the harsh reality of financial hardship - something that they may have never experienced before. Ultimately, things that were affordable 3 months ago may no longer be affordable.

As the restrictions are lifted, the opportunity to spend money increases. Therefore if your financial situation has changed due to COVID-19, it is important to stay on top of your finances during this time.

- What are your 'essential' living expenses and 'non-essential' living expenses?

- Are you able to afford your 'essential' living expenses? If not, have you discussed hardship options with your credit and utility providers?

- Are there any 'non-essential' living expenses that you may need to think about, due to the financial changes brought on by COVID-19?

If you feel like you are being engulfed by the fog of financial hardship and you can't see a way out, don't stress... there are people out there who you can talk to.

A Financial Counsellor can look at your overall financial situation and provide you with your options and can advocate and negotiate on your behalf if need.

Call the Affordable SA Helpline on 1800 025 539 to book an appointment to speak to a free Financial Counsellor or search for Financial Counselling Serviceson the Affordable SA App.

For more information and services, visit the attached link to the Money & Finances section of Affordable SA.

By Sam