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  1. #1
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    Default surviving on a small income

    I'm not sure whether this is more a vent that this is my life or a plea for help after a fortnight where we have yet again run out of money days ago, have had no petrol to drive anywhere and today left with only enough food for DS.

    We survive on DSP & FTB - after my rent is paid I have $660/fortnight left. Out of that I have to pay $100 each of gas and electricity because I owe over $1K on each account.

    So effectively I have $460/fortnight for:

    food
    petrol
    water
    internet/phone
    school fees
    car rego
    car maintenance
    sports fees for DS
    random school expenses like excursions/camps
    clothes
    school uniforms
    other random stuff I've forgotten
    pocket money for DS

    This is life long term - there is currently no way of changing it. ; So how. Seeing it here listed no wonder I'm sinking

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    Louise41  (14-09-2017)

  3. #2
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    How old are your kids? Do u have time for some cash work on the side like cleaning or babysitting?

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    pointless1  (13-09-2017)

  5. #3
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    Have you talked to your electric and gas suppliers about their hardship programs? I was $4k in debt on my electric thanks to my ex, but I joined the "staying connected" program and would get $50 credit every time I made my direct debit. It really helped bring the bill down, in fact I'm now in a credit.

    I'd also look at your phone/internet and see if there's a way to make them cheaper, ie bundling or switching to prepaid or a different provider.

    For car expenses, excluding petrol, set aside like $10 a week. That should help cover most of that - do you live in a state where you can do rego for 3 or 6 months instead of 12? A few smaller payments might be easier than a large one.

    Groceries - meal plan and build up a stock of basics. A few spices, bulk rice, home brand frozen veggies and so forth. That way if you have a bad week you can at least have rice and veggies. If you plan for the week and plan dishes that have ingredients that go in multiple dishes it makes it cheaper. Also try for dishes that will give leftovers for yourself for lunch or that could be sent to school to be eaten cold.

    See if there's a community group that does an angels kitchen, where you can get food for free or very cheap. All donated.

    There is nothing wrong with second hand clothes - kids grow so damn fast. Keep an eye on local buy swap sell groups on Facebook for people selling bulk lots for cheap. Could also be a cheaper way to pick up uniforms as well.

    Talk to the school as well - you might be able to do payment arrangements for excursions etc and they might be able to help with cheaper uniforms etc.

    Go through your bank statement and see where your money is going. Or for the next fortnight keep all your receipts and just see what you're spending. Look at if you're getting bank fees and switch banks if needed.

    Hope this helps

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  7. #4
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    I feel for you, money worries are so draining and worrying.

    We recently started 2 things that were massive eye openers for us: meal planning and a running spreadsheet of each and all expenses. I had been keeping an eye on finances for a while but we still ended up in negative on most months and couldn't always explain it, let alone fix it.

    Meal planning was a massive saviour for us. I made a list of all the meals we usually eat, how many meals we need to plan for and I choose each week what we want to eat
    I go through our pantry, check what we have and decide what will cost the less for that week. No buying anything that isn't on the list of meals for that week. We have saved between $55-75 a week on food. We try to cook enough to have some leftovers that we either have for lunch or freeze for another time. When I know we have a bit extra for some reason, i'll plan an extra meal into our list and freeze it all, it helps with lunches in the long run (even if it's just a soup for example and an extra loaf of bread).

    Recording each and every spending, even tiny made us realise that they were too many small expenses that we lost track of and where draining our pockets. Now we can stop them.

    I agree with PP regarding car expenses, apart from petrol. Could you just set aside $10-15 a week for it in an account or envelop that is set aside especially for it? Same for water bill and other expenses that come regularly but not every pay check?

    I used to work for a gas/electricity company and i know they had special plans and options for repaying this sort of debts (like the credit thing mentioned by PP). $100 each a fortnight seems pretty high. In my experience with that company, the really helpful options were never offered easily to clients though, a lot of calling and explaining and pretty much crying was needed to get someone with half an heart to get a decent plan in place. It was absolutely revolting. Just saying this so that you know that if they say there's nothing more they can do, there's a fair chance it's not quite true.

    Hugs, it's so hard to worry about money

    ETA: also, my mom and one of the lady I used to work with made a little bit of extra money (not heaps but still) by doing online surveys and sometimes things like mystery client or marketing surveys. I know there are a few good websites doing that. I have seen some adds on Seek for mystery clients now and then. They only pay a few dollars per survey but if you can find 15- 30 minutes a day to do them every day, you can get $50-100 a fortnight/month. A little bit of extra money for you and your DS.
    Just an idea.
    Last edited by Galdoria; 13-09-2017 at 11:18.

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  9. #5
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    school fees and sports costs - can you talk to the school/organizer of the sports and see if they can either reduce the fees or defer the payment somehow? surely there must be some provisions in place for struggling families?

    how much is your rent? from your postcode on your profile it looks as thought you live around sorrento/portsea? is there any cheaper housing available around here than what you're in currently?

    pocket money - how much does ds get? when does ds become eligible for youth allowance? i recall my friend in high school used to get it as it's means tested. i assume your ds would be eligible?

    the issue with your situation is that, even if you were given a lump sum of cash, it would get eaten up over time on expenses. i guess the issue is is you're unwell and not generating any income of your own that covers your expenses. so the only way to get ahead/stay afloat is to reduce expenses.

    dh told me when his dad left his mum was broke did a while and they got some food donations from salvation army. no idea if this is still available but you could try looking into all these kind of food donation options just in case something is available?

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  11. #6
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    Thanks all.

    To answer some questions:

    DS is 13.

    As much as I would like to be able to do something like cleaning or babysitting to earn extra cash unfortunately my health issues mean that atm & for the forseeable future it is not going to happen given that getting out of bed most days is a major achievement. I hope one day in the future to be able to work and usually I study (have taken a leave of absence from my degree for this year) in the hope that one day I will be able to.

    I do meal plan but not so good at actually sticking to it (due to health issues). When I am well enough I often bulk cook rice & vegies so there is usually a stash of these in the freezer for when I'm not up to cooking. We don't eat a lot of meat other than DS will eat chicken that I buy cheaply at a bulk butcher.

    Thanks for the advice on electricity etc hardship. They have told me that I am on a hardship plan (basically paying only for current usage not for the arrears) and they are doing the best they can for me so now to overcome my extreme anxiety and call them yet again.

    I get assistance from the local place that provides food vouchers etc but they have recently dropped it down to every 6 months you can get one $20 voucher per person in house and can access the pantry they have on site once. My case manager through the mental health unit is hopefully arranging some more food/petrol vouchers.

    I already pay the school fees/sports fees on payment plans. The school has actually been very helpful and gave DS a scholarship. I also get all his uniforms and what text books etc I can second hand.

    I live in Rye (so a fair bit cheaper than Sorrento/Portsea). My rent is $300/week which is amongst the lowest rents anywhere on the Peninsula. I have the added issue of having a dog and dog friendly rentals are limited but she is allowed here.

    DS gets $10/fortnight which he is using to save for a PS4. He is still a few years off getting Youth Allowance but in just over a year he has been pretty much told that he will have a casual job at Baker's Delight (he helps out with closing there once a week atm & we know the owner).

    My lack of ability to earn an income is definitely the problem. I need to somehow get well enough to be able to work but right now that seems like something that is never going to happen. Somehow we'll keep muddling along like we have been for the last couple of years.

  12. #7
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    If you recieve a payment from centrelink, there are places that they can refer you too, eg salvocare that can help with groceries, vouchers etc

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    pointless1  (14-09-2017)

  14. #8
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    I do the connect.news.com.au online surveys. You'd be surprised how quickly points add up into vouchers you can cash in. And I have everyone in my household doing the surveys.

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  16. #9
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    Also I wouldn't normally advise it but you may be able to access some of your super early. If you're sick and need to get through a time, they would probably release some to tie you over for a period of time. Financial advisers do a lot of pro bono charity work through charities. It would be worth finding one who can help.

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    pointless1  (14-09-2017)

  18. #10
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    On a note about ds age he can work know you just have to sign parental consent to do it. Hence he would have a wage. Maccas higher younger workers and also bigger retailers aswell

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