The recently announced Federal Budget revealed major cuts expected to save the country billions of dollars and hit a black balance sheet in five years, however comparison website finder.com.au has uncovered hacks to help ease the impact.
Money expert Michelle Hutchinson said:
“There’s no denying that the Federal Budget will hit many Australians including households, pensioners, low and high income earners and students. However, it’s a timely reminder for all Australians to review their financial situation and follow our 2014 Budget Hacks to lessen the impact.
“There are ways that most Australians can save money or reduce the impact of the budget by following some of these simple hacks. You may be surprised by how much money you can actually save!”
Australians with children will be hit with tighter eligibility requirements for the Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part B, including reducing the threshold from $150,000 to $100,000, and cutting the benefit once the youngest child turns six. A new supplement will also be introduced for low-income single families, who will receive an extra $750 per year per child aged between six and 12.
The FTB Part A end-of-year supplement will be reduced from $726.35 to $600 and the maximum income threshold is now limited up to $94,316 before the base rate is reduced. FTB Part B end-of-year supplement will also be reduced from $354.05 to $300.
- More jobs are available online: Stay-at-home or part time parents could consider online freelance jobs. Working as a freelancer is flexible and allows parents to stay at home with their kids or work in their own time while earning money.
- Open an offset account: If your reduced payments are making you struggle to pay your mortgage, open an offset account and get your salary deposited into it. This will essentially offset the amount you owe on your mortgage and therefore reduce the interest you are paying. You can withdraw and deposit into these accounts regularly so you can also use it as a savings account. Just check if there are any ongoing fees involved.
- Budget for your baby: It will be even more important to budget for the birth of your child if the expected changes to the paid parental scheme are introduced, which could include means testing, however it could put more money in some families’ pockets, depending on the outcome. Start a savings plan by comparing savings accounts online, and try to reduce your debts before the baby is born such as refinancing your home loan or transferring your credit card debt to a card with a balance transfer deal.
University students will pay more for their education under the new budget, with the government dropping its contribution towards course fees from 59 percent to an average of 20 percent from January 2016.
Universities and TAFEs and colleges are also set to increase some fees, as they will be allowed to set their own fees. From July 1, 2016, university graduates will be obligated to start paying off their HELP debt when they earn over $50,638 and interest rates on their debt will rise
- Pay while you study: If you are earning money, putting $500 aside to pay your uni fees can help pay down your debt as you’ll be eligible for a 10 percent discount.
- Kick-start your career: It’s also worth looking for a job in your field while you’re studying to kick start your career, despite most companies accepting graduates there are opportunities to apply for internships or even work experience, which could lead to a job.
- Take advantage of student benefits: Take note of all the events universities hold that offer free food and use these to your advantage. Many places, such as cafes and food stores, will also offer a student discount even if they don’t advertise it. It never hurts to ask!
Young and unemployed
Those under 30 and unemployed will not be granted Newstart or Youth Allowance until six months after they finished school or began seeking employment.
The government will provide six months of assistance while participating in Work for the Dole at 25 hours per week. Assistance will be cut after this 12-month period for the following six months, except for wage subsidies to employers.
It continues as a six-monthly cycle. People under 25 won’t be eligible for Newstart, but can apply for Youth Allowance (Other).
- Check your eligibility for support: Even though the government is imposing stricter eligibility, that doesn’t mean you won’t be eligible. Take a look at the criteria on the Human Services website and see if you can apply for some government support.
- Free resources: Search online for local free resources that can help you find courses, interview training and CV writing.
Those born in or after 1965 won’t be eligible for the pension until aged 70 and the pension age will rise to 70 in 2035.[sam id=43 codes=’true’]
Pension indexation will be changed to reflect inflation and from July 1, 2017, asset and income test thresholds will be frozen for three years.
The Disability Support Pension (DSP) will also be impacted by these changes. The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income threshold will be indexed from September 2014 and untaxed superannuation income will be included in the income test.
- Contribute extra to your super: If we have to work longer before we can retire with the age pension, it could be worth contributing additional funds to your super. Even putting away $20 or $30 a week can make a huge difference when retirement comes around.
- Find unclaimed money: The opportunity to claim your lost super is still available. Log onto the MoneySmart website to see if you have extra dollars lying around.
- Start investing in your own retirement: We should be working towards savings goals for longer-term investments that may not pay off in the short-term, such as property investment, in preparation for retirement.
- Consolidate your super: Some Australians will have more than one job in their lifetime, but multiple jobs means multiple super accounts. Consolidate your super accounts to make sure all of your super is in one place so you can earn maximum contributions.
Petrol prices will be hiked from August 1, 2014, with the government reintroducing a fuel excise indexation every six months
- Look towards fuel efficiency: The increases in petrol prices may make it worth investing in a fuel-efficient car. Do the calculations and see if you could benefit in the long run.
- Take public transport: You’ll not only save money by reducing the amount you spend on petrol, but you can save money on parking and car maintenance if you don’t drive as much. Some insurance providers also reward you for using your car less, which could save you a bundle as well.
- Carpool: By driving to work, school, or anywhere with family and friends you can save yourself money by sharing the cost of petrol and parking.
Those earning over $180,000 will be slugged a higher marginal tax rate by 2 percentage points.
- See an accountant: If you don’t already do so, it could be worth seeing an accountant to lodge your tax return as they could help you identify what you can claim and increase your return and therefore lower tax costs.
- If you’re a business owner: Look for ways to reduce your taxable income by investing in your business such as marketing and employing staff.
From July 1, 2015, Australians who see a bulk-billing doctor will have to pay a $7 “patient contribution” fee, as well as out-of-hospital pathology and imaging services such as x-rays and MRI scans.
A $5 fee will be introduced to prescriptions that are subsidised on the government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from July 1, 2015. Concession cardholders will pay $0.80 more instead of the $5 fee.
- Save for the unexpected: Put money aside into a health savings account, which are growing more popular, or add your savings to your home loan with free redraw or offset account, so you’re never caught short when you need to visit the doctor.
- Get a concession card: If you’re eligible, apply for a concession card or don’t forget to take your card with you on your GP visits as concession cardholders and kids under 16 will be charged a patient contribution after their 10th visit per year.
- Ask for a discount: Doctors will be able to use their discretion on who they bill so if you’re cash strapped it’s worth asking for a free visit or discounted fee.
- Reduce the amount you spend on other medical needs: Visit ‘no gap’ medical practitioners, such as dentists, who will not charge you for the gap between what your health insurance pays, this can save you money that can be put towards other medical needs.
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