We've all done it. Bought something we later regretted because we didn't really need it.
The AfterPay logo seems to be everywhere, along with other so-called 'buy now pay later' products. You've heard it from sales assistants offering alternate ways too pay. Before you do, there are a few simple few questions to ask yourself about what you're about to buy?
1. How much do I really like it? Is this a necessity that will be beneficial for me and my household?
Stopping to think about whether you really like the item, and how it will add to your life might help put it in perspective for you!
2. How long have I been thinking about this purchase?
If you've been researching the product or thinking about it for a while, you're on your way to a good decision. You could also ask, 'Would I make this same purchase in 24 hours?' These questions help us reduce spontaneous decisions that we might later regret.
3. Do I have enough money to buy this today, which won't impact on my bills or payments?
If it's a stretch and you're reaching into next week's groceries, today is not the right time. Is there a way to save up instead?
"I often feel like I need to have the next best thing whether that be the current fashion fad or new gadget. However I've taught myself not to get caught up in it - a skill that has saved me so much money! Whenever feelings of urgency to buy "it" arise, I wait one day. 9 out of 10 times these feelings of urgency subside and I end up feeling better for it having saved the money and not made an unnecessary purchase" - Hannah
The Salvation Army's Monecare program encourages you to go on a buying reflection journey. Have a goal in mind like steering away from AfterPay and using it less, spending less online this month, or start saving for Christmas! Whatever it is, asking yourself a couple of questions before you buy something goes a long way in removing regret!
(Article sourced from The Salvation Army's Moneycare's "You're the Boss" Program)
For extra help with your goals, get in touch with a financial counsellor. They're free, independent and confidential.
This week is National Homelessness Week and Affordable SA recognises homelessness is real every day of the year with more than 116,000 Australians experiencing this right now.
When living rough, finding available services can be very difficult especially regionally where most community services are provided from a distance. For years, Affordable SA has been connecting those doing it tough with much needed services quickly, discretely and easily with the Affordable SA app and website.
Affordable SA is expanding to provide important location based searching combined with real-time ‘open now’ status to help deliver the best assistance to those who need it.
This is an exciting development for South Australia, as an initiative between The Salvation Army, Carrington Cottages and Verto Group.
These expanded features will be available in coming months.
The app is free to download for iOS and android or visit www.affordablesa.com.au.
Many individuals and families are living just one step away from financial hardship and without a little help could find themselves easily slipping into homelessness.
Charity groups and welfare organisations often provide what is called Emergency Relief. It is the means to provide for people in need, the assistance of most benefit to them. This could be food, food vouchers, blankets, clothes, assistance with bills and furniture as well as other vouchers to stores such as K-Mart to purchase much needed goods.
Help may also include medications, access to free glasses, and referrals to free dental care. Many centres provide budget counselling, financial counselling, personal counselling and links to other community programs located across the state.
These welfare agencies are recognised as providing a state wide standard and purchase vouchers from supermarkets and large chains department stores that can be redeemed by those people in need.
A lot of people find it hard to reach out for help and are quite often at desperation point before finally seeking assistance. The providers of Emergency Relief are there to help and to do so with dignity and understanding. They can also refer people to other agencies that may be of further assistance.
See the Affordable App, website or ring the Helpline1800 025 539 for more details.
Orange Sky mobile laundry and One Voice mobile showers have been operating around Adelaide for several years providing much needed services for people sleeping rough or experiencing homelessness. Each service works in conjunction with many community centres, church groups and social welfare agencies.
Fred's Van is a mobile food service that provides hot, nutritious meal, blankets, clothing and food vouchers, donated books, social connection and referrals to other community service and Government agencies.
Foodbank now has several Vans to help to bring supermarket to those in need and have been trialing in regional areas.
The good thing about these mobile service is that they can change their roster and location to suit the needs of the homeless. They are supported by volunteers who treat the clients with the dignity they deserve and can lend an ear over a coffee or a hot meal. Although operating independently there are times across the roster where they overlap to provide a wider range of basic services available to where the need is greatest.
Affordable SA is a mobile resource providing greater access to support services for South Australians and empowering house holds facing difficulties. It helps connect the dots using plain language between all the services available and provides an easy self guiding mobile application so that those in need can make informed decisions to take better control over their financial decisions and obtain useful assistance for their well being.
Overseas in London they have come up with an idea turning the iconic red double decker into mobile shelters for the homeless. The buses have room for dining as well as computer terminals to help people to start to reconnect with services. https://buses4homeless.org. In Adelaide we already utilise bus terminals for code red and blue days so an extra bus or two parked in the terminal doesn't seem an unreasonable thing to consider.
It used to be that when you mentioned Homelessness it would conjure up pictures of people sleeping rough in doorways. Over the years Homelessness Week has helped to highlight the wider plight of those sleeping rough on the streets, in shelters, in cars or couch surfing. Domestic Violence, family relationship breakdowns as well as financial desperation, mental health issues and drug or alcohol abuse now help to define the Homelessness statistics. The complex series of issues surrounding homelessness make it clear that there is no one case scenario that is a quick fix.
To the many community service organisations and charities, Homelessness Week is just another week when people need and seek help. Politicians and local members will attend forums with guest speakers and a smorgasbord lunch to chew over the subject. We, the public, display our awareness by wearing flannelette or nominating someone in the office to sleep in a sleeping bag overnight. Some will raise money for their favourite charities by walking a mile or two. What ever it is, wearing the shirt, sleeping in the car, buying a coffee for a stranger and eating the homelessness sausage sanga at Bunnings, we need to remember and continue to voice that Homelessness is not something that will go away without a longer term view and greater follow up and commitment outside of this week.
In the major cities such as Adelaide there are a wide range of services that do their best to provide people in need with something to eat, a place to wash clothes, a clean toilet, and if available a safe place to sleep. Many services have now gone mobile. "One Voice Showers" and "Orange Sky" laundry services criss-cross the Adelaide region to be where they are needed and Foodbank is pushing further and further into the outskirts with their new mobile vans to help people in need or at risk of being homeless. It may be a complex game of Tetris but having regular support services at hand to provide ongoing assistance and long term mentoring is crucial.
In the regional areas of South Australia, services are scant and shelters or housing for the homeless are almost non-existent. Without physical housing or shelter solutions for the homeless dealing with the issue is a quick ride on the futile treadmill for most service providers. Even in big shires close to Adelaide such as Mount Barker there are no shelters or accommodation for the homeless and the booming housing growth means there is also little in the way of vacant houses or bus terminal buildings for people to get out of the weather even if its a code red or code blue day. Services in these regional areas can only provide assistance by moving people away from what support groups they have established and risk creating social isolation and increased mental health issues that will have longer term problems. More time than not the person would rather be living rough in an area they are familiar or have established connection than living isolated in a house in another region. Many people return to their original area which means they also risk accumulating debt from a vacant rental.
Check out the ABC Riverland story about the ongoing support needed for regional homelessness (related content).
So slip on your favourite flannelette shirt and sign up to sleep in the car. Get your pockets bulging with gold coins and throw them into the tin whilst eating the Homeslessness sausage sanga. If you're in the outskirts of the city or in the bush regions throw your support behind the local service providers and to the butcher and the baker who quietly helps to feed the many families at risk of homelessness in your town. They need your support to help people doing it tough not just today or this week but every day and every week.
The ACCC launches investigation into Telstra sales people signing up people to contracts that they cannot afford. Financial counsellors say the mis-selling of phone contracts is "rife" and want telcos to to run a similar credit check as banks.
Listen to Karyn Hicks, Financial Counsellor and Team leader for the National Debt Helpline, on 891 ABC Radio with Sonya Feldhof.
HomeStart is a low deposit lender owned by the SA Government and has been in operation for around 30 years, helping around 71000 people get into home ownership.
John Oliver, CEO of HomeStart, took off the jacket and tie to take Affordable SA behind the scenes and talk about the process and best ways of preparing your finances as well as the information required to apply for a home loan.
John says that "Many people assume they are not eligible for a home loan when in fact they are". HomeStart lends to people from all backgrounds, single parents with kids, couples and more mature people. Around 40% of HomeStart's customers are on Centrelink payments.
HomeStart's mission is to make home ownership a reality for more people in more ways. They also have a strong focus in helping regional home buyers and anybody from anywhere in South Australia can approach homeStart for a home loan.
Watch the interview with John to find out all you need to know to get started with owning your own home sooner.
The throes of winter has many South Australians throwing on an extra blanket or two and bracing themselves for the expected bite from the costs of heating over the next few months. The last few years of higher energy prices has raised our anxiety of heating and cooling costs and is now the single most feared expense in the family's annual budget.
South Australians in particular are well adept at power consumption reduction around the house but there is only so much you can do regarding heating and power consumption to keep your family out of the cold. Many of us are facing the real prospect of disconnection because we simply do not have the money to pay. Even those with some financial capacity and or budgeting strategies can find paying the kilowatt costs hard. For those who do not have the ability to pay it can be a pretty cold shower of devastating reality. Who can they turn to for help?
Many struggling families have utilised the SA Government's Emergency Electricity Payment Scheme but Financial Counsellors are still finding some people unsure of what they are entitled to in regards to assistance or the types of assistance available. EEPS can be accessed if you are experiencing significant financial difficulties and have had your electricity disconnected or are at risk of disconnection. Payments of up to $400 for low-income households and applicants are available for an emergency electricity payment once every three years. The Scheme is only accessible through the assistance of financial counsellors, who will assess your financial situation before lodging an application. If you're in financial hardship and unsure about where you stand regarding access to assistance please ring the Affordable SA Helpline on 1800 025 539. The Helpline can help you understand the assistance available to you or provide an appointment to see a financial counsellor if needed.
The SA Government is one of the more generous of the states and territories regarding this emergency assistance. It is truly aimed at those in most need and under threat of disconnection but with access to the scheme only every three years if you qualify for the scheme one year you will need to consider major changes to manage the subsequent years between. Accessing a Financial Counsellor early may also help to stop you sinking into more debt.
There are other concessions for a range of circumstance such as Medical Heating and Cooling, Energy Bill Concessions, Energy Bill concessions for Asylum seekers and Cost of Living concessions. These can be accessed through contacting the Concessions Hotline on 1800 307 758 or go to https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/care-and-support/financial-support/concessions
Financial Counselling is free, confidential and independent. The National Debt Helpline is a not-for-profit, community based service that is available to people in Australia experiencing financial difficulty. South Australians ringing the national helpline will be transferred to a financial counsellor who knows and lives in South Australia, and is as local to the caller as possible. If you require assistance from a financial counsellor please contact the National Debt Help Line 1800 007 007 (Mon to Thurs: 9.30am–8pm and Friday: 9.30am-4.30pm) or go to the Affordable SA App or visit the Affordable SA website to see more information and the services available in South Australia that can be of assistance.
You can find more information on how to apply for EEPS call the Concessions Hotline or visit the sa.gov.au website or follow the links below.
According to consumer review and comparison site, Canstar, in November 2018 South Australia had the highest electricity prices in Australia at 42.88c/kWh, compared to New South Wales (33.12c/kWh), Victoria (28.25c/kWh) and Queensland (27.62c/kWh)(#_ftn1). The financial strain that the cost of electricity is putting on South Australian households is unfortunately too apparent for our Financial Counsellors.
One Financial Counsellor commented that she had an elderly client who confined herself to her bedroom with just an electric blanket for warmth, out of fear that if anything else was turned on she would not be able to afford her next electricity bill. Similarly, another Financial Counsellor commented that she had a client who was struggling to pay back a large outstanding electricity bill because her partner, who had recently passed away, relied heavily on electricity for medical reasons in the final months of his life. Therefore, not only did she have to manage the household budget with one less income but she had to repeatedly negotiate with the electricity provider to pay off the outstanding bill.
Unfortunately, these two stories are not isolated incidences; we hear hundreds of stories each month about the strain that the cost of electricity is having on South Australian households. Fortunately, the South Australian Government does provide financial relief through an Emergency Electricity Payment Scheme Grant (EEPS). However this $400 payment, which is only available to clients every three years, provides temporary relief for households feeling the pinch of the rising cost of electricity.
Although we cannot influence how much Energy Retailers charge South Australian households for Electricity, we can educate our clients to take the steps to manage their electricity consumption.
· We check with the client that they are receiving South Australian Government Concessions
· We check with the Energy Retailer that the client is receiving the best available deal/discount
· Through the Energy Retailer, we find out the client’s fortnightly electricity usage as a dollar amount to see how it fits within the client’s budget. If their fortnightly usage is high, we provide information to the client about accessing a Home Energy Toolkit from their local public library and/or contacting a free external Home Energy Audit Service to reduce their electricity consumption.
· We check with the client’s Energy Retailer if they are able to support the client through an incentive plan, whereby the Energy Retailer matches every one or two payments made by the client to assist them out of hardship.
Ultimately, we endeavour to empower our clients to take the steps to be in control of their electricity consumption. We emphasise to our clients that although the Energy Retailers dictate the price, the majority of what the client pays for is ultimately up to them and the electricity that they consume.
(#_ftnref1) Brendon O’Neill 2019, Average electricity costs per kWh, Canstar, viewed 4 June 2019,