Consumer Watch with Candice Evans: Help manage cost-of-living pressures with ASIC’s Moneysmart service

Candice EvansGeraldton Guardian
Get help with managing living expenses via a new Moneysmart cost-of-living website hub.
Camera IconGet help with managing living expenses via a new Moneysmart cost-of-living website hub. Credit: Don Lindsay/The West Australian

Times are tough for many Western Australians right now, so people will be looking at ways to manage their rising living costs and keep on top of bills.

To help consumers manage their living expenses, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s (ASIC) Moneysmart service has developed a cost-of-living ‘hub’ on its website.

The hub contains information to help consumers make a plan, including how to prepare a budget to track where money is spent, prioritise what matters most and identify any expenses that can be reduced.

With interest rates on the rise, some consumers may be concerned about meeting their mortgage repayments. Taking action right away can stop a small problem from becoming a big one, so these consumers are urged to talk to their lender as soon as possible. The hub talks you through the steps to apply for a financial hardship variation, which may involve changing the terms of your loan, or temporarily pausing or reducing repayments.

Financial hardship assistance may also be available for those struggling to pay their rent, utility bills, credit cards, loans and insurance premiums, so these consumers are also advised to contact their providers sooner rather than later to discuss the possible options.

Further advice is provided on how consumers can save for an emergency fund to cover urgent or unexpected costs for things such as car repairs, unexpected travel or an urgent medical bill.

For those on a low income, the hub provides guidance on what financial support is available, as well as exploring practical ways to manage costs, such as automating regular bill payments and paying big bills in smaller instalments.

Consumers needing help to get debt under control and their finances back on track can talk to a financial counsellor, who can help prioritise bills and repayments. The National Debt Helpline provides a free, confidential financial counselling service on 1800 007 007.

There is also advice on where to turn in a crisis for help with food, housing, bills and emergency support, plus a reminder that help is available via Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 if financial stress is impacting on mental health.

To explore Moneysmart’s cost-of-living hub, head to moneysmart.gov.au/manage-the-cost-of-living

Candice Evans is senior regional officer for Consumer Protection in the Mid West and Murchison

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