Managing on a low income
2nd April, 2019
One of the challenges for Defence families that move around can be the drop in income if a partner can’t find suitable employment in the new location. In addition, an ADF member’s pay can be variable and the cost of living in some locations can be higher. So how do you manage if this has happened to you?
There are two strategies that can help; find ways to save money, or find a way to make money.
How to save money
Start by making Google your friend. Search ‘tips to save money’ and you’ll find millions of websites and blogs dedicated to this subject. As you read through some of the great money saving ideas, think ‘is this a tip that I can use’? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Do a budget – research shows that people who have a written budget, manage their money better. That’s because it makes it easier to see where your money is being spent, allowing you to decide which expenses could be reduced or eliminated.
- Groceries – plan meals in advance, make a shopping list and only buy what’s on the list. Be aware that cheaper items are often stocked above or below eye level. Don’t shop on an empty stomach, and if you can, shop later in the day when some fresh food may be reduced.
- Use your garden – if you have a garden space, consider growing your own vegetables. There are plenty of online resources that give tips on growing your own vegetables from scratch.
- Make use of libraries – Borrow books and DVDs from your local library. If you have young children, find out if there is a toy library in your area that you can borrow toys from.
- Electricity – compare energy providers at Energy Made Easy to make sure you are getting a good deal on your energy costs. If you find a better deal, call your current provider and see if they will match it to stop you from switching.
- Exercise – use local parks and free outdoor pools and equipment to exercise for free. Need some motivation? Download a free fitness app. Many apps provide basic features completely free.
Ways to make money
Finding work in a new location can be difficult, especially if you are faced with a lack of affordable childcare options. Here are a few suggestions on ways to make some extra cash:
- Maximise your entitlements – Contact Centrelink to make sure you are getting all the assistance you may be entitled to.
- Sell things you no longer need – if you have things lying around that no longer get used, like exercise equipment, furniture, good quality toys or clothing, you can sell them online to generate some quick cash. Facebook, Gumtree and Ebay are few well known options for selling goods online.
- Job share – Can you band together with other families in a similar position and job share or take on part-time work so that you can alternate working and taking care of children.
- Start a home-based business – If you have access to the internet and you have skills such as copy writing, editing, web design, bookkeeping or blogging, you may be able to find online work. The beauty of web-based work is that you can do it from anywhere. There are also any number of business ideas that are not web-based. Think dog walking, child minding, cleaning, tutoring, personal training, meal planning (for cashed up busy people). You are only limited by your imagination, search ‘home based business’ for other ideas. Just be wary of opportunities that require you to put money up front, it could be a scam.
If you do find yourself in financial difficulty, get help sooner rather than later. Talk to a free financial counsellor or find out about the Relief Trust Fund for your particular service. Defence families Australia is another great resource that assists Defence families and can help you link up with Defence communities in your area.