Don't get your wires crossed when paying for electricity

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2 September, 2019


If you have contacted an energy retailer in the past, chances are that the sales person would have offered you either a standing offer or a market offer contract. A market offer contract is set by the energy retailer and is designed to lure you in with competitive discounts. Whereas, the standing offer is a basic ‘bread and butter’ contract with no discounts that can often be more expensive than the market offer contract. In many cases, customers are unknowingly put on a standing offer contract once their market offer contract expires.[1]

In July 2018, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published the Retail Electricity Price Inquiry Report, which stated that consumers found the electricity retail market confusing and difficult to navigate.1In response to the 2018 Inquiry, the Australian Government introduced The Default Market Offer (DMO). The DMO is an electricity tariff set by the Australian Energy Regulator that acts a price cap for energy retailers. It was introduced to assist customers that were disengaged from the energy market and were subsequently paying higher energy costs on standing offer contracts as a result.[2]

What does this mean for South Australian Households?

In July 2019, customers on standing offer contracts were automatically switched to their retailer’s DMO, prompting a future saving of up to $171 per year for South Australian residential customers.  With the change to DMO prices, it is estimated that the average South Australia household on a single rate tariff (4,000 kWh/year) will pay no more than $1,941 per year for their energy.2

Although the introduction of the DMO will provide some relief for South Australian households, it is important that customers do not become complacent and accept rates and discounts at face value. To ensure they are receiving the best available deal, customers should regularly contact their energy retailer and discuss the following:

·      Are discounts being applied to both supply and usage?

·      Am I eligible to receive the ‘Pay on Time’ discount even if I pay in instalments?

·      Am I receiving the best deal/discount available?

·      Am I locked into a contract that would cost money to get out of?

·      Are SA Government Concessions being applied to my electricity account (if eligible)?

Discounts offered by energy retailers are not the same as SA Government Concessions. If you hold a concession card, or you have recently changed energy retailer or moved house, call Concessions on 1800 307 758 or search for Concessionson the Affordable SA App or website for more information.

For more information regarding gas, electricity and water look under the Utilities section on the Affordable SA App and website.

By Sam

[1]Mullane, J. (2019) ‘Default Market Offer (DMO) Explained’, Canstar Blue, 27 June. Available at: 26 August 2019)

[2]Gudova, M. (2019) ‘Energy regulator reveals savings for customers paying most’, Canstar Blue, 30 April. Available at: 26 August 20219)

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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’ -

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](


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