According to a University’s Australia study, two out of three Australian students are living below the poverty line. It’s hardly surprising, with part-time jobs hard to find, utility bills rising rapidly, and hefty increases in rent. Research has also shown that 42% of people under the age of 24 have between $10,000 and $30,000 of personal debt, not including a mortgage.
Students are constantly juggling bills, from buying food to paying rent, the electricity and phone bills and public transport to and from uni, to name just a few. If you are feeling overwhelmed, help is at hand to get you back on track.
This easy to navigate site discusses how to tackle common financial problems. It has comprehensive step-by-step guides on how to work out which debts are priorities; how to contact the hardship team of utility providers to ask for a variation of your payments; how to work out a payment plan that is affordable and sustainable; and how to lodge a dispute with the ombudsman if the provider won’t accept your offer of a payment plan. The website also discusses the risks of using credit and offers handy hints and tips. Using the site ensures you can maintain your privacy about your finances.
It is also important that you know your rights, which include, for example, that telcos, utility companies and credit providers are obliged to provide reasonable assistance to people who are in financial hardship.
National Debt Helpline
If you need further support, you can call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to speak to a financial counsellor. Financial counsellors provide free, neutral and independent advice on your options for tackling debts. It is important to remember that financial counsellors are required to act in your best interests.
Numerous for-profit companies aggressively market their services online and through social media and claim they can help you better manage your budget. And the advertising is seductive. But there are consequences of signing up to such services, including often very high fees. Financial counsellors can explain in detail the pros and cons of all your options.
National Debt Helpline: ndh.org.au; 1800 007 007
Elizabeth Minter, Communications Manager, Financial Counselling Australia