Welcome to the Leave Home blog.
Subscribe to Blog via Email
Search the Blog
Find us on Facebook
You’ve packed up, moved out, started paying your bills and realised that your enter level pay or student benefit probably isn’t going to cut it. Not without some savvy management anyway. How to manage on a small income is one of those balancing acts that you just get the handle on around the same time you get a pay rise. But until that happens, here are our best tips and tricks.
When you are trying to manage on a small income, you can’t afford to let large annual, quarterly or even monthly bills sneak up on you. The best way to get around this is to pay an amount to them every week or fortnight as you get paid. An electricity bill of $500 for a quarter is around $40 per week over 12 weeks. When you get the hang of this one, managing your bills becomes a lot easier.
When working out how to manage on a small income I found it useful to share expenses where I could. We rented out our spare room, split the household expenses between us and even included food in that. It’s not always an option, but if you are struggling it could be an option. The same goes for becoming that person. Rent a room instead of a unit, a studio instead of a town house. Downsize or share where you can.
The disclaimer here is to make sure there is a clear understanding of what is expected on each party when it comes to sharing upfront! Fail to do this and you could find yourself paying for someone else instead of saving yourself money.
Tight ass Tuesday (or Mad Monday or whatever it is in your area) exists for a reason. It’s a chance to get your takeaway, movie or special treat out of your system when it costs you often half of what it did before. Join email lists and follow Facebook pages of cinemas, restaurants, take out places or supermarkets near you. Get in the loop on the cheap days.
Knowing how much money you have and how much you can afford to spend is essential to being able to manage on a small income. We have written on the subject of budgeting on this blog before and encourage you to get started now if you haven’t already. Budgeting isn’t sexy or cool, but neither is not being able to pay your bills and getting a bad credit rating.
The Australian Government offers free financial counselling to those who need it via this page on their Smart Money website. Use services like this to get advice from professionals without it costing you a cent. They can also assist you to ensure you have maximised your government support. In Australia if your income falls into a certain category you can qualify for government assistance.
A word of caution about taking advice from people (not government agencies, just your mates or relatives), always ask yourself if it works for you and your situation. We recommend the same thing when dolling out advice here. Not everything is going to work for everyone, so pick and choose what works for you. But always make sure that the person giving advice knows what they are talking about!
Put your, for lack of a better word, ego aside for a minute and accept what you are offered. If a friend offers to cook you a meal, accept. If you family want to fill the freezer with meals, let them. If there is a church group or similar in your area offering a community pantry or garden, get involved and accept their help.
If it makes you feel any better, know that everyone, at some stage in their life (and not always at the start) has accepted help from someone. One day, you’ll return the favour. That’s just the way it goes.
Managing on a low-income can be hard work. If you need to speak to someone contact Lifeline or your local community support office at your local regional council. Speak up, there are people who can help if you need it!
Melissa is the Leave Home Blog Boss. She is living the high life in her hometown, didn’t finish her marketing degree & drinks too much on a Thursday night. Blogging since 2009, Melissa decided to put everything she knows into making The Leave Home Blog a light & easy how-to guide for being a grown up.