Cost-of-living pressures impact many people in Queensland, particularly those on low incomes.
The cost of essential services, such as electricity, water, telecommunications and public transport, has a significant impact on low-income households, who typically spend a higher proportion of their income on essentials.
On these pages you will find information, factsheets, links and news items to assist you in helping your clients maintain access to affordable essential services, and keep you up-to-date on changes that may affect you or your clients.
Financial and budgeting tips
There is a range of general financial and budgeting resources that can be helpful to assist people manage their bills and cope with the cost of living.
This section will guide you to resources and tools on money advice and budgeting.
Comparing unit prices can help you budget and save. Unit pricing at grocery stores shows you, not just the cost of a product, but what the value of that product is as a cost per standard unit of measurement on shelf labels for groceries. Unit pricing makes it easy to check, compare and save when buying groceries. Find out more and read tips on how to get better value for money.
Financial abuse occurs when a partner, friend or family member manipulates your decision-making, or controls access to your money or other property without your consent. It can happen to anyone, no matter how old you are or how much money you have. The ASIC MoneySmart website has tips and helpful links.
Get smarter with your data
Watch this video from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about protecting your data from scammers.
National legislative changes to payday lending and predatory leases
Consumer leases and payday loans are often targeted at the most vulnerable members of society. Community legal centres and consumer groups frequently assist victims of this predatory behaviour, that ignores or hinders the borrower’s ability to repay the debt. There has been some progress in terms of identifying policy and legislative changes, however their passage through the Federal Parliament has stalled. In March 2017, consumer advocates from around the country met at Parliament House to lobby for #FairFinance. In this webinar the Consumer Credit Legal Service WA Inc provided an update on recent, and much needed, changes to the national laws around payday lending and predatory leases.
Need help saving and managing your money?
There are a number of resources to help you manage your money and tips on ways to save.
MoneySmart, by the Australian Government, provides free and impartial financial guidance and tools to help you manage your money.
Saver Plus is a matched savings product, offered by ANZ, which assists people on low incomes to develop long term savings habits and reach their savings goals. This product is delivered through community organisations across Australia.
Good2GoNow program is coordinated by Good Shepherd Microfinance and The Good Guys. The Good Guys Commercial team will provide you with a centralised service for all your queries, quotes, orders and payments. Once an order is confirmed it will be sent to your local The Good Guys store who will contact your client to arrange delivery with them. This program offers a national buying solution to NILS and StepUP workers, whilst still providing clients with personalised service and product delivery from their local The Good Guys store. The NILS Buying Service is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.
Factsheets on managing money
Need a loan?
If you need to borrow money to purchase an essential item, such as whitegoods, furniture or electrical goods, pay a bill, or for medical expenses there are several options.
No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) Good Shepherd Microfinance provides No Interest Loans of up to $1,500 to help people on low incomes cover the cost of essential goods and services, such as fridges, washing machines and medical procedures.
Centrepay If you receive a Centrelink income, you can use Centrepay to arrange small, regular deductions from your payment to pay for your bills, for example child care, electricity and rent. You can start or stop using it whenever you like.
StepUp loan Good Shepherd Microfinance also offers a no fee, low-interest loan up to $3,000 for people who may have trouble accessing credit from a bank.
Speckle loan Good Shepherd Microfinance offers small loans from $200 to $2,000 with repayment options ranging from three months to one year (without the hidden costs). The repayment options are flexible so you can pay early and as often as you like with no extra fees. To be eligible, you need a minimum annual income of $30,000 (excluding government benefits) before tax to apply.
Foresters Community Finance Foresters Community Finance provide a personal loan up to $4,000 with no interest or setup fee for any worthwhile purpose.
QuickstART loan QuickstART by Foresters Community Finance, is a Micro-loan scheme for individual artists and small-scale cultural enterprises.
Advice on insurance products
Finding affordable insurance that meets your needs can be hard to find. Here are some sites to help navigate insurance products:
MoneySmart explains what to look for in insurance products so you can find the right policy for your needs.
Essentials by AAI is a simple product that offers low-cost car and contents insurance.
Good Insurance program works with Australia’s largest insurance companies to create affordable and simple insurance policies for people on low incomes. These products enable people to insure their household belongings or cars, so they’re protected if things go wrong.
Insurance 4 That is a single-item insurance solution. It provides an alternative to traditional contents insurance by enabling people to insure individual items and nominate the insured value of these items.
How to find a financial counsellor
Financial counsellors provide a free, independent and confidential service. To receive support from a qualified financial counsellor, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007. Opening hours are 9:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday.
Financial Counselling Australia has a handy tool to find a financial counsellor in your local area.
You can also refer clients to service providers funded under the Queensland Government Financial Literacy and Resilience Program for assistance with budgeting and financial matters. The Queensland Government website has a list of financial literacy and resilience services and information on financial planning and budgets.
The Salvation Army’s Moneycare service provides free and confidential financial counselling.
Commonwealth Financial Counselling provide services delivered by community and local government organisations to help people in personal financial difficulty to address their financial problems, manage the debt and make informed choices about their money in the future.