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.

16 December, 2019

On the 9th Day of Christmas, Affordable SA shared with me...

'Avoiding Debt Traps'

It seems like every few months our Financial Counsellors come across a new 'pay day lender' or 'buy now, pay later scheme', where the repayments make a considerable dent in people's fortnightly budgets. Unfortunately, if someone is in financial hardship this extra fortnightly expense can get a whole lot bigger with account keeping fees, late fees, establishment fees, interest, dishonor fees, default fees...the list goes on.

With Christmas only days away, the temptation to use 'pay day lenders' and 'buy now, pay later schemes' to pay for Christmas is incredibly high. However, keep in mind that our Financial Counsellors will often see the repercussions of these decisions. From rent arrears to broken electricity payment arrangements, our Financial Counsellors see essential living expenses get put aside to accommodate the fortnightly direct debit payments paid to these lenders.

Before you sign up for a 'pay day loan' or 'buy now, pay later scheme' for Christmas consider the following:

- If I can not make a repayment, what will happen?

- If I take out a 'pay day loan', is what I am using it for really worth the extra fees, interest and charges?

- Next year, is there the option to put money away each fortnight so I don't need to rely on 'pay day lenders' or 'buy now, pay later schemes'?

- Will the repayments put extra pressure on my fortnightly essential living expenses (e.g. rent, electricity, food, etc)?

For more information about the traps of 'pay day lenders' see the attached link for the ABC interview with Gerard Brody from the Consumer Action Law Centre

If you are struggling with expenses or debts and would like to speak to a Financial Counsellor, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or search for the National Debt Helpline on the Affordable SA App.

13 December, 2019

On the 12th Day of Christmas, Affordable SA shared with me...

‘Mental Wellbeing’

With 12 days to go until Christmas, we are now well and truly into the festive season (see if you can find a department store that isn’t playing Michael Buble’s Christmas album).

For the next few weeks, we will be bombarded with Christmas songs on the radio, fairy lights,elves, tinsel and celebrity chefs on TV showing you how to cook the perfect Christmas lunch. For many of us, Christmas is a time for celebration and relaxation, when we get together with friends and family and reflect on the year that has been.

However, Christmas can also be a difficult time for many people. Spare a thought for your elderly neighbor who lives alone, your friend who is experiencing financial hardship, your relative who is going through a separation or your co worker who is struggling with depression.

If you know someone who finds this time of year especially difficult, consider reaching out to them to show that you are thinking of them. As the Grinch said, ‘It came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more’.

If you or someone you know finds this time of year especially difficult, services such as Lifeline are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to take your call.

For more tips to get through the festive season, see the link for the ABC interview with Clinical and Health Psychologist, Sabina Lane.