How to budget and save money on a low income
4 December 2018
Taking care of your day-to-day expenses on a low income can be difficult. It can be helpful to invest a little bit of time in planning ahead and understanding your spending habits to make things a little easier on you and your family. Learning how to budget and save on a low income is a useful skill to have at any age and in any circumstance.
To get you started, we’ve got some great money saving tips and ideas to help you manage your money while still enjoying life at the same time!
Start by setting up a budget
First things first, you need to know how much money you have and what regular fixed expenses you have. Setting up a budget can help. When you don’t have a lot of money coming in, it’s important to check your bank statements regularly and budget accordingly so you have enough to cover your basic needs, like rent and utilities.
If you’re not sure how to set up a budget, try Suncorp’s Budget Planner. It’s free to use and calculates the difference between your income and expenses when you input your information. A little knowledge can go a long way, especially if you’re new to budgeting.
Research your entitlements
In some cases, you might be entitled to financial support from government agencies if you have a low income. Centrelink offers a low income Health Care Card which, if you’re entitled to it, offers discounted services for public transport and medication.
The Department of Human Services has information on income support, so it can be a good idea to do your own research to find out what you’re entitled to ahead of time.
Conquer your debts
This can be a big step towards managing your money, especially if you’re on a low income. The sooner you’re able to reduce any debts you might have, such as high interest credit cards or personal loans, the more money you might have to start saving or simply enjoy daily life.
Cut back on expenses
Saving money on things like food and entertainment is possible (even on a low income). You could try buying basic food items (think dried fruit, coffee or tea) in bulk, or look for the generic brand instead of the more expensive named options.
Get creative when it comes to entertainment options too. Keep an eye out for free activities in your local area, such as outdoor concerts. You can also pay a visit to your local library, where you can borrow books, DVDs and other resources for free! Paying attention to how you spend your money will help you avoid the temptations of impulse purchases as well.
Check out an Everyday Options Account with Suncorp
To manage your daily money, Suncorp’s Everyday Options Account gives you the flexibility to set up sub-accounts – up to 9 of them – to separate your money according to what you want to pay for. You could call one sub-account ‘bills’ and another ‘groceries – it’s totally up to you!
Smooth your bills
That’s not the name of a rap song – it has to do with your regular bills. You can get in touch with your utilities providers and talk to them about ‘bill smoothing’. If they offer this service, it means you can pay off your bills in instalments, either fortnightly or monthly, so you won’t be up for a big amount at once.
If you need help – get it
In Australia, there are a few options for how to get help when you need it. For budgeting and general help with managing your money, The Department of Human Services has a free Financial Information Service (FIS). Anyone can use this service, not just customers of the Department.
Alternatively, you might like to work with a financial counsellor if you’re experiencing financial difficulty. They can help you with managing your debts, budgeting and other money related issues.
Living on a low income doesn’t necessarily need to be a disadvantage. If you can learn how to budget and manage the money you have, you can ease some of your financial stress in the process.
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The information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries. Any advice contained in this document has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs. For that reason, before acting on the advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. Where the advice relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular financial product, you should consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision regarding the product. Please read the Product Information Document for Personal Deposit Accounts before opening an account. Fees, charges, terms and conditions apply and are available on request.