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Making Centrelink Income Work For You
●May 14, 2018●9 minute read
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One thing that we humans have seemed to get pretty good at over the centuries is learning how to get by. It’s all about making what you have work for you instead of you working for it. Not knowing for sure where your next paycheck is coming from or if it will even be enough to cover the bills can be very stressful. When you’re living on a lower income from Centrelink, it can be especially hard to budget for all your expenses and save money at the same time.
This is why we’re going to run through some tips for saving on all the expenses and making your Centrelink income work for you.
Making your Centrelink payments work for you
Now, this may sound simple, but the best way to make your Centrelink payments work for you is to just budget, budget, budget. We understand that this is always easier said than done. That’s because, a lot of the time, we’ll set out a budget and then struggle to stick to it. One of the main tricks to keeping a solid budget is having the discipline to follow through with it. Once you’ve got that you’ll start to see all the benefits that having a set budget can bring you.
These benefits include:
- Knowing exactly where your money is going
- Knowing exactly how much you have to spend on certain expenses
- Being able to set realistic financial goals based on your income
- Being able to see progress on your savings much sooner
How to create a good budget and then stick to it
Start with your income
Take a look at your Centrelink online income statements and determine what you’re taking home each payday after taxes. It’s important not to count on money that you’re not sure you’ll receive. Therefore, if your Centrelink payments vary from week to week (this could be the case if you receive Centrelink Youth Allowance), perhaps work off the minimum amount you expect to get paid. Then, anything more than that can go into your savings account. If you’re working casually as well as receiving Centrelink, make sure you account for any regular income you receive. If you have a regular income, including from Centrelink, you may qualify for a fast loan from Jacaranda.
Track your past and future expenses
It would be best if you always were keeping track of what’s going out of your account. However, if you are new to the whole budgeting thing, a good way to assess your past expenses is to download a copy of your bank statements from the last couple of months. This will give you an idea of where your money is going. Then you can start to plan your budget accordingly.
Look into Centrelink family benefits.
From now on, it’s important always to maintain a record of all of your expenses. You could write each one down on a notepad and carry it with you everywhere you go. However, a better way would be to download Asic’s Moneysmart app, Track My Spend. This app lets you take down all of your expenses and will even categorise each one. For example, you’ll have categories like ‘groceries’, ‘clothing’, ‘rent’, ‘utility bills’. With this, you can always keep tabs on what’s coming in and going out of your account.
Tracking your expenses like this is the best way to know for sure where most of your money is going. Sometimes when it’s just coming out of your account, it’s easy to lose track of what you’re even spending money on. This way, you’ll be able to constantly assess what expenses are important and unavoidable and which ones you could cut down on. For example, if you’re spending $50 on take-out food every week, perhaps it’s time to pay a visit to the grocery store? Why not put your kitchen to good use to try to save some dollars?
We know that making sacrifices kind of sucks, but it’s all for the good of your bank account. Future you will thank past you down the track.
Reduce your spending
So, now that you know where your money is going, you can start to make cuts where necessary. It’s important to, first, focus on your essential living costs: the ones you can’t avoid. These are things like your rent, groceries, petrol or public transport expenses, utility bills, pet expenses, insurance, credit card payments and loan payments. You may even want to consider debt consolidation loans to get your debt payments in order.
Any other non-essential expenses, such as unnecessary clothing, snacks, dining out, movies and other non-essential entertainment, alcohol and other leisurely events, you’ll want to try and cut back as much as possible.
Now, we’re not saying you need to completely give up your social life and all things delicious and fun. Making too many sacrifices is how you lose motivation and give up on your budget completely. Just think about what expenses are vital for maintaining your sanity. Keep those in place, but perhaps try and minimise them a little? Then, any non-essential expense that is more of a guilty pleasure and something you know you can live without, cut it out of your budget. Culling your budget is like culling your wardrobe: you have to be cut-throat about what you get rid of otherwise you’re just wasting space (money) on clothes (expenses) you don’t need and will never wear.
Another awesome app you can download to help you with your budget planning is ASIC’s Budget Planner app, or find out more about calculators. It will let you categorise your expenses and add them up over a certain period of time to tell you exactly how much you are spending. It’s a good idea to set the time limit in line with your pay cycle. So, if you get paid fortnightly, get the app to measure your expenses every 2 weeks and so on.
Set financial goals
Making your Centrelink income work for you doesn’t need to be as difficult as it may seem. It’s always easier to maintain motivation when you have something to work towards. Set financial goals for yourself and then plan how you’re going to reach them in your budget. For example, you might aim to save $300 a month. Look at your budget and figure out what you have to do to reach that goal and then put the plan into action. Then, set a date for when you’d like to have reached that amount by. If you get there by that date, you should reward yourself.
Now, when we say ‘reward yourself’ we don’t mean go and blow that $300 on a nice dinner and loads of fancy cocktails. We mean to do something little for yourself as a reminder of how good it feels to achieve your goals. A good reward could be a glass of wine with a friend, a cheeky chocolate bar from the supermarket, buy yourself one barista coffee or even take yourself to see a movie you’ve been waiting to see. Reward yourself with anything that is special and exciting to you and won’t break the budget.
How to add to your Centrelink income without too much stress
We understand that sometimes job opportunities are limited or you may find yourself in a particular situation that prevents you from working. You need to rely solely on your Centrelink online services. You might even be studying and receiving Centrelink Youth Allowance to help get you by.
If you’re not working or not able to work, but you would like to try and increase that cash flow as much as possible – short of calling the Centrelink phone number and begging for higher payments – here are some ways in which you can do that.
Ok, maybe not everything. However, if you do have things lying around the house that are no use to you anymore, why not try to make some money from them? Set up an eBay page or a Gumtree account. Sell your pre-loved goods to people who will love them more than you. Any clothes you don’t wear that are in good condition, old phones lying around that still work, even Xbox games or any sporting equipment that are just sitting there gathering dust. If you don’t need them, sell them to someone who does, and you may be able to build up a nice little savings account to match your Centrelink online income.
Rent out a room in your house
If you have a room/rooms in your house that are currently unoccupied, it could be a good idea to rent them out. You will have to sacrifice some of your space and learn to share with others, but you’ll save a significant amount on rent and might even make a friend in the process. Reducing your rent is a great way to stretch your Centrelink Youth Allowance out a little further.
Sign up for short-term jobs
Another way to add to your Centrelink online payments is to pick up short little jobs here and there. You could sign up for online surveys that pay for participation. You could participate in mock juries or focus groups. However, keep in mind that that option may require you to be there in person so if that’s not possible then try and hunt out more online options. You could also sign up to be a mystery shopper for retail stores and hospitality businesses. All you’d need to do here is frequent a particular shop or restaurant, act as a customer and then share the details with the owners of the company. These are all super easy ways to boost your budget a little without taking on too much stress.
Get a loan
Sometimes all we need is a temporary boost to get us back on track with our finances. If you’re drowning in expenses and living paycheck to paycheck with your Centrelink income, a small loan could be just what you need to pay off your bills and get back on track to achieving your financial goals. We’re all allowed to borrow money when things get a little tough. Why not get a personal loan on Centrelink benefits? Check out how it works (Centrelink loans), and perhaps one of our loans will be just the right thing to get you on your way to a healthy bank account.
Want to try and get more from your Centrelink payments?
As we are not affiliated with Centrelink, we can only offer general advice about Centrelink online services and payments. If you want more information on your payments and available options for increasing them, you should jump online to Centrelink online services or dial the Centrelink phone number to get in touch. If you need myths debunked or need a loan, then that’s what you come to us for! A personal loan is great for sorting out your finances and getting back on track with your budget.
Want to learn better money management? Let’s see how exactly we can do that.
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Written by Jacaranda Team