Take back control this Christmas

Christmas can be a particularly challenging time for Tasmanians on low and fixed incomes. Planning and budgeting are essential in this current cost-of-living crisis.

An Anglicare team member for more than 20 years, Lynne Watson (pictured above) is Manager Financial Resilience and Wellbeing, covering the North and North West of the State. She leads a team of financial counsellors whose role it is to support Tasmanians who are finding it difficult to make ends meet.

“We know of people on JobSeeker payments which simply don’t go far enough to cover basic needs like rent, food and fuel,” she said.

Lynne sees people with multiple Buy Now Pay Later accounts who are finding themselves constantly juggling to catch up on payments. Sometimes they use these accounts for consumables such as groceries and fuel, and sometimes they are used for impromptu purchases during the constant round of sales offered by retail outlets.

“Remember, a bargain is only a bargain if you have already planned for it and budgeted for it,” she says.

Lynne’s top tips are setting a budget, shopping around, making a list and sticking to it.

“Prevention is always better than a cure,” she adds. “Our financial counsellors can support you if you have financial difficulties. Please, reach out to us as soon as you can so that we can work together to come up with some solutions. Sometimes we can negotiate with creditors on your behalf.”

Think creatively

Lynne says it can be difficult to predict a child’s wants and needs months out from Christmas. She recommends setting up a savings account early in the year so that appropriate and affordable gifts can be purchased.

“Talk to your family about a Secret Santa system, so that you only have one person to buy for. Or consider forgoing gift giving for adults altogether.

“Everyone could bring along some food to share  – and the meal could be very simple.

At the end of the day, it’s spending time with the people we love that is most important at Christmas time.

Contacting a financial counsellor

Call the National Helpline on 1800 07 007 and you will be put through to a member of Anglicare’s Tasmanian-based financial counselling team.

Their advice is free and confidential. More information is available here.

Other sources of information are the Moneysmart website and Financial Counselling Australia.



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