3 February, 2020

Back to school No Interest Loans

Back to school costs are no longer just about uniforms and stationery.

Over the last decade the emphasis on the technology used for education has meant kids require more access to laptops and mobile devices as part of their every day learning. This has meant a huge increase in schooling costs and puts even more pressure on parents finding it hard to cope with cost of living pressures.

Computers and mobile devices are now by far the most significant part of schooling costs for many families and finding the money at this time of the year can send people spiralling into more debt. Many will still have outstanding bills from Christmas.

How can you pay for your kids essential learning needs without sinking further into debt or needing to think about other forms of loans that may cost you a lot more?

Have you heard of NILS? The No Interest Loans Scheme run by Good Finance loans has helped many families to purchase white goods and household items such as fridges and washing machines without paying any interest or charges. No interest, no charges at all! Now the Good Finance NILS is available to help with your back to school needs including computer and text books.

Low Income earners and people in hardship can access this help.

No interest loans are the best and cheapest way for people on low incomes to cover household expenses and necessities, you only repay what you borrow, so you don’t get caught in a cycle of borrowing and debt.

To apply for a no interest loan, visit nils.com.au to find your nearest provider or check out more about NILS and other assistance available in South Australia see the Affordable SA App (download free on Apple and Google play) and website [www.affordablesa.com.au](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/) or ring the [Affordable SA Helpline](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/money-and-finances/affordable-sa-helpline) on 1800 025 539.

By [Graeme](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/team/graeme-hinckley)

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23 January, 2020

Post-Christmas Blues

I often find that it’s around this time of the year when the shiny excitement of Christmas has well and truly worn off.

We all went through that strange period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve when we didn’t know what day it was. Easter buns then made a sudden and controversial appearance in supermarkets just days into the new year with Easter eggs following closely behind, in abundance. You may have already spent all the money on the gift card you received from your aunt as department stores push back-to-school items to the front of the aisles where the Christmas decorations once sparkled.

Christmas 2019 has now well and truly been left behind with credit card payments already eating into your 2020 earnings.

There are 8,760 hours in a year and Christmas Day makes up 24 yet planning for those brief hours of indulgence can take weeks of effort and sometime months of repayments. Here on the Helpline, we see the repercussions that the cost of Christmas can have on people’s financial situations. If not budgeted for, the ripple effect of Christmas can lead to electricity disconnections, defaults on credit reports, etc.

If the 2019 festive season caused you financial stress, consider starting to plan now…Christmas is only 336 days away!

We sat down with our Financial Counsellors and Financial Capability Workers here on the Helpline to discuss ways to plan for Christmas 2020.

‘One way to approach Christmas 2020 is to look at what you roughly spent in 2019 and divide that into fortnightly amounts (or however you get paid) and put that amount away each fortnight into a separate bank account or Christmas Club’.

‘Work out early on who is going to host Christmas lunch because if it is your turn, you may have to put extra money aside’.

‘If you are casually employed, find out early if your employer is closing over the Christmas break and for how long so you can start putting money aside now to cover essential living expenses while you are not working’.

‘Consider alternative options before signing up for a Christmas Hamper’ -https://www.affordablesa.com.au/news-articles/dont-let-a-christmas-hamper-put-a-damper-on-your-finances

For more tips on how to plan for Christmas 2020, see the attached link from the Moneysmart website, '12 Money Tips for Christmas’.

Christmas should be a time of enjoying family and friends without stressing about making basic ends meet. If you're counting the costs not the calories with each bite of the Christmas pudding, then you're setting yourself up for the Post-Christmas Blues and destined to lose any of the magic that Christmas brings.

If you've started 2020 and you are struggling with the financial repercussions of Christmas, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to speak to a free Financial Counsellor about your options or search for The National Debt Helpline on the Affordable SA App.

[By Sam](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/team/sam)

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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

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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.

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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.

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