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.
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.