Tips for managing money and avoiding debt
Getting expenses under control can help to avoid stress and improve your family’s lifestyle.
But it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by money worries and financial options. Most families have a lot of expenses, especially as children get older, and they have to think carefully about how to cover them while planning for the future.
Here are some basic ideas for managing money and avoiding debt:
- Follow the basic rule – never spend more than you earn.
- Decide what your priorities are, and it will be easier to control spending in the different areas of your family life.
- Focus on what’s best for your family rather than trying to consider every financial option out there.
- Check out your entitlements to government parenting payments. Could you be getting more?
- If you’re worried about how to balance your family budget, try developing a basic plan for managing your money.
- Consider using an online budget planner.
If you get into debt
It’s important to identify the reasons why you might be in debt. This can help you plan strategies to get out of the debt as quickly as possible. Start by asking yourself a few simple questions about your spending and income. For example:
- What is your weekly or monthly family income? What are your main weekly or monthly family expenses?
- How much do you pay each week or month in rent or mortgage? How big a proportion is this of your weekly or monthly income?
- How many credit cards do you have? How much do you owe on each? How much do you pay off each month?
If you find you’re not getting on top of things on your own, a financial counsellor might be able to help you negotiate with debtors, explain options for dealing with outstanding bills, and work with you to create a manageable budget.
Taking steps to reduce debt will help you avoid stress. If you have a partner, reducing debt might also help you avoid arguments.
Australian Government help with debt
The Australian Government Commonwealth Financial Counselling Program offers free financial counselling to individuals, families and small business operators who are experiencing financial difficulty because of unemployment, sickness, credit over-commitment and family breakdown.
You can also use the Australian Government Financial Information Service. This service is free and available to everybody. You don’t have to be receiving Centrelink payments to use it.