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Budgeting and Financial Resources

Anyone can have financial concerns. The overwhelming thought of that insurance, phone, rates or any bill entering your PO Box or email can be a shock.  Even buying food for your family can feel that its too much to deal with.   The simplest money concern can leave you feeling lonely, embarrassed and isolated.


If your financial situation makes you feel overwhelmed or sad then the Rural Communities Social Services Inc. can direct you into a more sense of safety, we are here to help. There are many services to help you get back on track and we have some resources to direct you.  We can provide you with materials and contact.

Help Centre

Image by John Schnobrich

By the Rural Communities Social Services Inc. supporting the idea of you having a budget, it gives you a sense of self-worth and purpose and helps you to feel in control.


You can put aside money for big bills when they arrive, or we can guide you to setting up deductions each pay.   By planning ahead it gives you savings to achieve your money goals which in effect gives you a sense of value and happiness.  

We are not providing financial advice, we are simply teaching you how to live life with some sense of control and ability to live!  If you feel you need financial advice please view the information below.

Where do I start?

Ask yourself:

Why do you need a budget?  What has happened previously? 

  • am I strong enough to put money aside and pay the bigger bills when they arrive?

  • what is my goal? do I need to keep track of all my bills and stay on top of them?

  • do I need to save for emergencies, replacement of goods, or am I simply wondering how I can have a holiday or buy a luxury item?

I now have a plan and idea of why I am seeking assistance, where from here?

Write down your Net income (after tax).

Its a good idea to start by checking your statements or receipts for the past fortnight or month in regards to how you have spent your money.  

1. Write down all your expenditures (outgoing payments).

2. Write down what essential bills need to be paid, for example:

  • utilities: mobile phone & data, internet, electricity, water/cartage, solar replacement

  • car expenses: petrol, insurance, registration, servicing, replacement value

  • council rates, rent/leases

  • groceries

  • medications and medical

You may also wish to record the upcoming week or two to see where your money is going!  But for this period only purchase and pay for essentials.

Do not write any non essential items at this stage!   It is important to initially separate your essential (needs) from luxuries (non-essentials).  The luxuries are purchases you could cut back on or live without to save money.


You may surprise yourself in regards to having a little left over.  Especially, after considering what was essential and non essential.  Sometimes the non essential items, i.e. takeaway, alcohol, cigarettes, junk food in groceries, etc is what is dragging you down.  By redirecting some of those funds you will certainly take control and enjoy a little savings or be able to purchase and take a break.

If you find you don't have any money left over from essentials due to loans, credit cards or high financing you may need to consult a professional and/or debt rescue.

I want to pay my bills but I am spending the money before the bills arrive.  They don't fall on my payday!

If you find you cannot place money aside for your bills when they arrive monthly, quarterly or yearly, or for replacement items on a rainy day, you may wish to send your money to the billers each pay. 

1. Billers offer a direct debit system where they can debit money from your bank on set days.   This is a great service, however if you don't have money in your account on that day, you may either receive a fee for dishonour or your credit rating may be affected.

2. Most financial institutions allow you to setup a forget-set-and-pay automatic transfer where you have control of the setup, adjustments and cancellations.  Majority of billers provide you with the BPAY details for this option.  If you wish to learn more please contact your financial institution or even send the South West Millmerran Philanthropy an email and we can meet up with you and help.  This is a great service as you are in control.

3.  In regards to your rates, the Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC), allows you to send payments from your bank each pay as per option (2) above.  Just calculate your last quarterly rate bill into your pay cycle, i.e. weekly or fortnightly, and send that off each pay.  You can keep track of your payments and any shortfall at anytime through their online services.

4. The Transport and Motoring QLD provides the service where you can choose to renew your vehicles’ registration for a 1-month period. The new registration renewal period complements the existing 3, 6 and 12-month registration periods, and allows you to choose more manageable registration payment amounts.

5. Most utility and telecommunication companies allow you to pay your bills on an ongoing basis either by direct debit as per point (1) or forget-set-and-pay as per point (2).

6. You can setup Centrepay through your Services Australia payments.

I am on a Services Australia payment, can I pay my bills via my Centrelink payments?

Centrepay is a free service for customers who receive payments from Centrelink. It helps you stay in control of your money.

You can’t set up a Centrepay deduction from these payments:

  • ABSTUDY, excluding Basic Living Allowance

  • Advance payments, excluding Family Tax Benefit advances

  • bereavement payment

  • Child Care Subsidy

  • Dad and Partner Pay

  • Farm Household Allowance

  • Parental Leave Pay paid by employers for Paid Parental Leave

  • Status Resolution Support Services Payment.


You can’t set them up from these payments either:

  • arrears payments

  • Boarding Allowance

  • Child Care Subsidy

  • Distance Education Allowance

  • quarterly supplement, like Telephone Allowance and Pension Supplement

  • Restart Income Support or Restart Re-establishment Grant

  • Second Home Allowance.

I always spend too much money shopping, how can I curb this?

The easiest area to overspend is when you buy your groceries.  We have all heard the saying "I am just racing into the supermarket to buy a few things".  If you are anything like most of us, a sale item ends up being a whole trolley full of sales!  

So if you’re just getting started with budgeting, you’re probably being hit with a reality check that your sale hunting in the supermarket really wasn't your best friend!.  But here is another reality check: maybe you aren’t overspending, but rather, under budgeting.  Buy only necessities, but be realistic with your budget.

If you don’t plan ahead—you will spend more. If you go to smaller country supermarkets you will spend more.  If you even attend the giants —you will spend more.  It does not matter how much you think about it, you spend more!  But this does not have to be the case.  Here are some options:

1. Go online and use their ordering system, plan your shopping through click and collect, the shopping cart always gives you a shock and I bet, you will go through that cart and re-consider your items.

2. Go to a non-conventional grocery shop that has limited but cheaper product options.  Those wonderful sale items are limited!

3. Take a written list and only have the funds available in your everyday expenditure account for your budget.

4. Use a shopping app.  Most shopping apps allow you to scan previous items as favourites. 

5. Visit the supermarket online sites and view their catalogues.

6. Buy the Foodbank boxes then pick up a few other items in store.  This is a great way to support your rural community town.  Generally they state you save at least $150 per box. 

7. Buy wholesale meats and fruit and vegetables.  In a country town, support the farmers directly.

8. Pay all your bills, fuel your car up, before you go out shopping.  Check the fuel app's for the cheapest fuel.

9. Don't be shy to use a calculator whilst shopping.

10.  Pre plan your dinner menu's and stick to the plan.  Most supermarkets now offer dinner menu options and ingredient costs, view and save their ideas!

How do I draw up a budget plan?

Firstly, you will need to set realistic limits on your budget.   If you don't set a realistic limit then you may cause  overspending and you may fall back into the routine of falling behind on bills again or not having the money for emergencies, replacements or savings.  

Everyone is unique and you may not have the same financial needs and pressures as others, however, be assured, if you have a budget, you’re more likely to have higher financial wellbeing. 

If you are able to control your finances and save money to pay your bills as they come in, then why not setup an online only account as a savings or with your current financial institution.  Ask about their budget savers accounts.  

If you are needing to make a controlled budget really work then why not setup different accounts for example:


  1. Commitments - such as bills, paying off debt and making rent or mortgage payments

  2. Essentials - like your groceries, transport and health costs

  3. Lifestyle – such as buying clothes, movie tickets or eating out

  4. Saving - for your rainy day fund or one day goals.


Make sure you set reminders for when bills are due and keep an eye on the balance and budget plans.

When considering your budget plan, maybe consider the 'financial rule of thumb guide 50:30:20':

Simple steps to budgeting with your 50:30:20.   The 50:30:20 guide was developed as a simple tool to help people get started and is better used as a guide as it may not always be achievable.  You will also want to tailor this guide to your needs. Sometimes you may need to focus on paying your debt before you start building up savings. This guide should help if you don’t have a budget at all.

Here’s how it could work:

  • 50% - essential living expenses like rent, bills and groceries

  • 30% - lifestyle costs like eating out, going to the gym and buying clothes

  • 20% - put into savings, your emergency fund or making extra super contributions 

Many financial institutions have a budget planner tool, please check or contact your financial institution. 


In addition there are great budget planner apps you can download onto your electronic devices. 


One app is the Mint: Budget, Bills, & Finance Tracker  


How do I study on a student income?

When you’re trying to live on a low income budget, it’s a constant battle to keep afloat and not stress more than what you already experience with your education studies.  Look over all your expenditures, like the above budgeting tips.   Online spending is a big issue with the younger generations, its very easy to turn your phone on and just press purchase.  When you are going through the short term period of having a low income and studying you will need to prioritise and think about the basics that you need to survive on rather than what is new and fantastic.  Moneysmart.gov.au is a great step forward in assisting the students with budgeting and resources.