Locals counting the cost

Image: File photo.
Image: File photo.

Ms Pitt said it was not a simple case of people overspending during the festive season ” clients requesting help were struggling across all areas, not just credit card debt.

‘Christmas sometimes can cause an unavoidable increase in expenditure, and people on low incomes will face extra pressure when utility bills and rental payments arrive in the new year,’ she said.

‘They face extreme financial stress, such as utility disconnection and risk of homelessness because they are behind in payments.’

The Cannington-based organisation provided people with emergency relief food packages and vouchers, and assistance to pay essential services bills.

Counsellors provided financial advice and planning but resources were limited.

Ms Pitt said many families would struggle to find money for school books and uniforms when students returned to school in a few weeks.

‘They’ll need to manage the costs of stationery, booklists, uniforms and school fees, and this can amount to a few hundred dollars per child,’ she said.

The Federal Government provided help with education costs through the SchoolKids Bonus payment.

‘Families who received their Family Tax Benefit Part A fortnightly and have not received the payment by January 20 should contact the Department of Human Services,’ she said. ‘For those families who received their Family Tax Benefit Part A annually in a lump sum, they would need to wait until they lodged their tax return.’

For more information about the Schoolkids Bonus, visit www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/schoolkids-bonus. To make an appointment with a financial counsellor call 1800 007 007.

Financial Tips

– Pay off your credit card debt in full
by the due date to avoid high interest
– Don’t include the credit limit as
part of your budget.
– If you are on Centrelink payments,
set up Centrepay. Centrepay is a
free service for Centrelink clients to
pay bills as regular deductions from
their Centrelink payments. Some of
the bills you can pay using Centrepay
include private rent, telecommunications,
utilities, education
fees, childcare, rental of household
goods, medical services and education
– Prepare a family budget.
Write down what you spend your
money on – be honest and keep
track of all expenses for a month.
Divide living expenses into two categories
– essentials and wants. The
essential costs will include housing,
utilities, transport, food, education
and medical expenses. Your wants
are goods you would like to have but
are not required.