15 January, 2020

Think outside the box

Our lives are filled with stuff.

Stuff can be found falling out of bathroom cabinets, hidden under beds, tucked into ceiling cavities, wedged behind couches, stacked up against garage walls and shoved into cupboards. To deal with stuff, many people choose to rent large metal boxes to lock their stuff away for months or even years at a time.

There are many reasons why people choose to put their stuff into storage. People may downsize their home, separate from a partner, leave their house, go into a retirement home or pass away, which ultimately leaves their stuff without a place to go.

Self-Storage can be a useful option for some people. However, as Financial Counsellors we often speak to people who have a storage unit but due to financial hardship have fallen behind on their payments. What people may not realise is that some storage facilities may not release your belongings to you unless you are up to date with your payments. Furthermore, if you fall too far behind on your payments your belongings may be sold at auction.

Therefore, before deciding to put your stuff into storage it is important to ask yourself the following questions:

- Can I afford a storage unit?

- Have I read the contract?

- Do I know what happens to my belongings if I cannot make the payments?

- Is the cost of maintaining the storage unit more than the cost of replacing my items?

- Do the items have sentimental value? If yes, is there an alternative option, such as a storing the items with a friend or family member?

- Can some of my belongings be stored electronically (e.g. documents and photos)?

- Will I need the items within the next 12 months? If not, could the items be sold or donated?

If you have fallen behind on your storage repayments and you would like to talk to a Financial Counsellor about your situation, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or search for the National Debt Helpline on the Affordable SA App.

By Sam

7 January, 2020

Know the Code - Code Red and Blue

No one likes a heat wave or a cold snap but spare of thought for the members of our community that are unable to escape the weather. For people sleeping rough, every day is a battle but add extreme weather and the results can be fatal.

To ensure that people sleeping rough have the support and services that they need to get through bouts of extreme weather, the South Australian Government will activate a Code Red for extreme heat or a Code Blue for extreme cold. A Code Red will be activated if the average daily temperature is above 32°C for 3 consecutive days and a Code Blue will be activated if any 2 of the following conditions occur for 3 consecutive days; average night time temperature falls below 6°C, there is significant rainfall and/or damaging winds

If a Code Red or Blue is activated, homelessness services and shelters are notified to provide additional support and services for people sleeping rough.

The South Australian Department of Human Services will notify the public via social media if a Code Blue or Red has been activated. Homelessness services will reach out to known rough sleeper locations to inform people of the extra services that are available.

For more information about the extra services that are available during a Code Red or Blue, search for Housing SA in the Affordable SA App or contact the Homelessness Gateway Service on 1800 003 308.

For more information on Homelessness visit [www.affordablesa.com.au](http://www.affordablesa.com.au/) or download the Affordable SA App today free from Google Play or App Store.

7 January, 2020

Staying Cool this Summer

I think we can all agree that the last few weeks in South Australia have been extremely hot.

In order to escape the scorching heat, many of us simply stayed at home out of the sun, lingered longer than usual near an open fridge or drank an unhealthy amount of iced fizzy drinks. Those lucky enough turned on air conditioners and blasted the house with cold air.

Although the air conditioner provides much needed relief from the outside oven-like temperatures, it is important to be mindful of how you are using your air conditioner and to consider if there are more energy efficient ways to keep your house cool.

Here on the Affordable SA Helpline, we see the result of high electricity consumption and the impact that it can have on people's financial situations.

If you have received your most recent electricity bill and you believe that your consumption is high, it might be worthwhile looking at doing a Home Energy Audit or borrowing a Home Energy Toolkit from your local library. For more information about these services, search for Home Energy Audit or Home Energy Toolkit on the Affordable SA App.

If you are in financial hardship and cannot pay your electricity bill then talk to the Helpline to see if you qualify for concessions or an EEPS grant (Emergency Electricity Payment Scheme). Accessing an EEPS will require an appointment with a Financial Counsellor, ring the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or the Affordable SA Helpline on 1800 025 539 and make an appointment with a Free Financial Counsellor nearest you or over the phone.

For tips to keep your house cool this summer, see the attached PDF 'Summer Cooling Guide 2019-20' from the Government of South Australia.

22 December, 2019

On the 3rd Day of Christmas, Affordable SA shared with me

"Christmas Travel"

Whether you are heading towards The Big Lobster, The Big Pineapple, The Big Merino, The Big Cockroach or The Big Orange this Christmas, travelling by car with children can be expensive during the festive season.

Here on the Affordable SA Helpline, we have put our thinking caps on to create the following list of tips to help save money while travelling during the Christmas period.

- Depending on the length of the trip, try and embark and arrive between meals so you don’t have to spend money on food (e.g. leave just after breakfast or lunch)

- Fill up the petrol tank prior to Christmas Eve/Christmas Day to avoid the higher prices

- If it’s going to be hot, freeze water in water bottles the night before so you don’t have to rely on buying expensive cold water at the petrol station.

- Download music and videos using WIFI before you leave home, rather than relying on data

- Consider constructing a DIY lunch box for each person in the car, so you don’t have to rely on petrol stations, bakeries or fast food restaurants

- Check the oil and water levels in the car before you leave. The last thing you want to do is pay a mechanic if your car breaks down.

- If it is going to be hot, try and avoid driving during the hottest part of the day to save on using the air conditioner (which ultimately can save on petrol costs)

Take it easy and have a safe trip, especially if you're travelling far, far away

21 December, 2019

On the 4th Day of Christmas, Affordable SA shared with me...

“Feeling the Stress?”

It’s the 21st of December,

- Have you still got Christmas presents to buy?

- Is your electricity bill and water bill due?

- Have you got people staying with you? (are you using a lot more electricity?)

- Is your monthly credit card payment due?

- Have the lights on your Christmas tree stopped working?

- Is your car registration due 2 days after Christmas?

- Are your children asking the age-old question, ‘How does Santa get into the house when we don’t have a chimney?’

- Have you got the money to pay for petrol to drive the hour to your brother’s house for Christmas lunch?

Christmas can be a stressful time of year.

Even if we have a list…and check it twice, something will always pop up this time of year us to add to our ever-increasing stress levels. The important thing to remember is that we can not control everything…take the weather for example.

It is important to focus on the things that we can control and the steps that we can take now and into the new year so next Christmas doesn’t have to be as stressful.

To start planning for Christmas 2020, consider creating (and sticking to) a budget.

For tips and tricks around budgeting, see the attached link from the ABC.

If you are are feeling stressed about your financial situation and you would like to discuss your options with a Financial Counsellor, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or search for Financial Counselling on the Affordable SA App.