It seems everywhere you turn at the moment, there's heated discussion around the Federal Budget cuts which will soon hit each and every one of us from the first of July 2014 onwards.
Australians have just been handed down a Budget that is touted as the most controversial to hit our nation in decades. It is a Budget that has opened many arguable points of view and one that will be debated hotly in Parliament in the coming months (and no doubt years).
Thankfully, the task of implementing such a dramatic plan does not bear on me, however, like every single Australian family, the many changes the Budget will bring, will affect most areas of our lives.
For those of you who missed the boat on some of the main proposed changes, here's a quick run-down on what the 2014 Budget spells for families:
(Please refer to the Australian Government Department of Social Services here for a more extensive view.)
Recipients of Family Tax Benefits are to see changes and cuts to their payments. Family Tax Benefit Part A will, from 1 July 2015, see a per-child add-on amount no longer used to calculate a family’s eligibility for FTB Part A. Incomes at and above $94,316 will see the loss of FTB part A altogether and no longer receive a $3,796 per child add-on that is currently in place.
FTB part A is no longer available regardless of how many children you have, once your income reaches this ceiling.
FTB Part B will no longer be paid to families where the youngest child has turned 6 from the 1st of July 2015. Families with a youngest child aged 6 or over who are currently receiving FTB Part B will have a two year grace period until 30th June 2017. Similarly, the threshold for eligibility for FTB Part B has been lowered from the current $150,000 to $100,000.
Single parents who receive the maximum rate of FTB Part A and do not receive FTB Part B will qualify for a new $750 supplement every year for each child aged six to 12 years from the first of July 2015.
End of year FTB Supplements, (those withheld during the year and returned at tax time), will be limited to $600 per child and $300 where they will remain indefinitely - less than their current levels from 1st July 2015.
The Large Family Supplement will only paid to families with four or more children and all FTB payments are to remain frozen at their current levels for 2 years.
The School Kids Bonus, (although not a policy in the current Budget) is planned to be axed but is yet to pass through Parliament and so may still be paid next month to eligible families. This payment to assist the cost of educating kids is payable in January and July each year. (Until further notice.)
Changes on the medical front will see patients paying a $7 GP fee for each Bulk-Billed visit to their Doctor. Children under 16 years of age and those eligible for concessions will have the payment capped after their 10th visit each year.
Medicine costs are set to increase. Medications currently covered under the PBS will increase by $5 as well as the introduction of new Safety Net thresholds which will see the sick paying out heavily.
There are changes to tertiary education too, with the future pricing of courses being passed onto the universities themselves. There will be a steep rise in the cost of degrees and from 2016, students will be required to pay back their loans sooner and at lower income thresholds.
Petrol prices are set to rise with the fuel excise to increase twice a year in line with inflation.
Controversial proposed changes to New Start will make payments for young people under 30 for only 6 months of each year they remain unemployed or not in an approved stream of study.
Many families are already struggling to make ends meet and ours is certainly one of them. One thing that is clear in this budget if the bulk of it is passed unchanged through the Senate, is that families will be doing it tougher yet again.
Have you thought about how the proposed changes are going to affect your family?
I have written a few posts here recently about budgeting for families which have been very popular so I thought I might throw in some more tips again. With 6 kids to feed, clothe and educate we are always scratching to save pennies in all areas of our lives. I would love to hear how my readers budget themselves too so please leave any comments below to share a tip for saving that another family may appreciate.
Food shopping is one area none of us can avoid and something I have not yet blogged about so I am focussing on ways to stretch the cash here in particular. There are definitely ways to make your money go further on the food front. Here's some of the tricks I use to feed a family of 8 on one income:
Shop for food as soon as you receive your pay. Just like other essentials in life, you probably aim to have your bills paid as soon as the funds are in. Treat your food shopping in the same manner and do a huge shop at the start of the month or each fortnight when your salary arrives.
Plan your shop so that you are purchasing pantry essentials like canned and pickled foods, flours, spices - foodstuffs that form the basis of all dietary requirements. When funds are low, (and sadly ours are pretty much always!) you will still be able to make a meal from the dry goods and canned products you have stocked in your kitchen to stretch you into your next pay period.
Shop for groceries online. This is a longshot but so worth the gamble. I have been recently ordering my groceries online once or twice a month. Not only do I love the convenience of not going out and doing one of life's most boring tasks, but it must be mentioned that there are hidden benefits in the process. In doing so you are already golden for saving cash on fuel by not attending the stores but I have discovered a nice little thing about the whole personal shopper experience worth sharing.
Place an online order and be sure to tick the box which gives the store permission to offer a substitute item if the brand you have chosen is out of stock. A nice little spin-off from this has been that we have been receiving doubles of items which are greater in grams or a more expensive brand for less than we have paid as product substitutes. This is a regular occurrence we are benefitting from multiple times in each order and a nice little perk that would not occur had I made the effort to shop myself in store.
More product for less money with compliments!
Furthermore, if the store makes an error and includes a substitute which is not exactly the product you were expecting, you are refunded and the product is yours to keep. This happened a few weeks ago when I ordered chocolate chips but received chocolate melts instead - a refund of $7 without issue. (And some nice velvet chocolate cakes topped in chocolate melts were enjoyed as a result!)
Online shopping from your supermarket has exclusive deals which may not be in store as well as the regular specials available. Before you start any order, check if there are free delivery offers or what level of spend qualifies for free delivery. We find we can easily fill a virtual trolley to the required free delivery threshold and in doing so, never pay a cent for the brilliant service that this is.
I have found the price comparison for items online to be equal to that of the stores too.
Read your local supermarket catalogues to find the specials each week and buy up while the deals are on. If your favourite brand is on sale, buy several items while you can afford it and feel good about the extra cash you have saved. Think essentials such as nappies, baby formula and infant food, even tinned tomatoes; whatever it is your family uses regularly and must have - buy while it's on sale.
Buy and try generic. We buy as much as we can in the Homebrand label. So many of these products are just as good (if not better), than their branded counterparts. Tissues and toilet paper cost entire dollars less than the brands and the quality is great. Pet food, cleaning products, milk and cream - all excellent value and equal quality by comparison. By the time a you have filled your trolley with these items, you will have saved loads.
Pick up a supermarket publication. Many supermarkets produce their own glossy magazines which you can pick up for free at the checkout. These magazines are a great read and feature much information about in-season eating which can save you dollars just by being on-trend with the food market. Apart from the brilliant recipes these mags contain, there are often generous clip out discount coupons to use at the check out for specific item purchases. Look out for them.
Join your preferred supermarket's loyalty program. By scanning your member's card each time you shop, you will receive discounts geared to your specific buying patterns. Some people dislike their information being monitored and avoid these cards but I really enjoy my personal marketing bonuses I receive. I am forever emailed with offers to activate and free delivery deals on home shopping, thanks to my noted preference for online shopping. Furthermore, there are discounts that are applied at the checkout when you purchase items that are only offered on special to members. Sometimes too, there are gift cards up for grabs which simply require a weekly spend for a short period to qualify.
Most supermarket chains have a baby club with lots of bargain offers just for members. These are very worthwhile on the savings front.
Other tips can include meal planning, sticking to a set shopping list, shopping minus children in tow and baking from scratch. All of these will help shave some of the expense off your food bill.
Lastly, watch the prices on your receipts. Most supermarkets have a scanning policy which will give you an item that has been scanned and priced incorrectly for free. I have lost count of the number of times I have received free items. (The best to date was a $30 pack of nappies!)
If you are concerned about the impact of the 2014 Federal Budget on your finances, you may wish to seek professional advice from a company such as Fair Go Finance, who can assist families to navigate their individual financial challenges.
What tips do you have for saving money on groceries?
Have I missed something?
Please leave your financial tips to share here with other Mums.
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