Budget, be prepared and always ask for help

Hello, my name is Carlatina Urquhart and I am 21 years old and I used to be in foster care.

I believe that the hardest part about having a foster care experience is the transition from care and one of my biggest troubles has been finances.

This year has been the most stable I have been with money since living independently but I thought I might start with discussing my journey from when I finished foster care and talk about how I overcame these and some tips to ensure that you are ok with your finances and how to live on low income.

I started to live on my own when I was 18 years old, I moved out four months after I had finished foster care. I had a casual job where I would earn $50 a week and I was studying my Certificate III in Children Services at Launceston College. One of the advantages of living with a care experience is you receive money until your 25 years old to assist with finances. However my issue was that I used the money for furniture for my new place and it didn’t arrive until four months after I had moved in. However there are people who are not fortunate enough to have funds for furniture or white goods and these are few things that I did until my furniture arrived that may help you.

  • *I slept in a sleeping bag on the floor
  • *I hand washed my clothing
  • *I kept my food in an esky.

Because of the struggles over moving out on my own, I was unable to perform to the best of my ability and I was getting behind at school and work and I lost a job opportunity. By this time I was living on $200 a fortnight, I was young and foolish I would spend $50 on myself a fortnight for groceries and then I would waste it on DVDs, and clothing because I had started this habit when I was living with my foster mum and I didn’t have to worry about anything else.

I would beg all my friends for money for the bus, but other than that I would not beg for food because I was too proud.

Because of my spending habits I had put myself in a bad position. When I obtained a vacation job in a vacation care centre I spent $200 on birthday dresses and again the $50 on my groceries. This left me starving a week before my 19th birthday and I was forced to eat play dough because that was on the only ingredients that I had in my house and I was broke.

It was disgusting, but from this I had learnt my lesson and since November 2013 I have not starved or have been broke since. I learnt the hard way.

Continue reading Budget, be prepared and always ask for help

It’s a big thing for me to be able to offer help

By Peter Richards, from the Ravenswood Neighbourhood House.

Peter’s story also appears in “It’s a Starting Point“. Thanks to Peter and Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania for sharing it on the BLB.


What’s important is being able to help people, the ability to help people. Because now that I’m right I’ve got a lot of life experiences, and now if somebody says they’re a bit down, I don’t have the certificates or anything, but I’ve got the ability to talk to people.

To tell you the truth I didn’t know the Neighbourhood House was here and being a gardener for a long, long time, I had a lot of vegetables left over from my garden. I’ve only got a very small back yard, but it’s always growing. It was the next door neighbour—I was talking about all the spares, mostly tomatoes, pumpkins and such, ’cause I got them into gardening as well, and she told me about the House. She got the number for the House and I rang them up and asked them if they’d like all the spare vegetables. Well they jumped at it. Two ladies came up and they picked them and invited me to come down to the House.

Having had depression pretty bad for quite some time I didn’t want to mingle but after several trips up there to get vegetables, I sort of thought “yeah I’d come down there and then shoot home” sort of thing, safety you know, and it all started from there. I was scared shitless, I was, I was scared shitless. I was worried I’d come in, somebody would say something and I’d jump in the car and leave. That’s how bad it was. When I got paid, I’d just slip down to the shopping centre pay my bills, get food and bang I’d be home. I mean I knew my neighbour, and my neighbour over the back fence, and that’s it. I mean I did my gardening. That’s when I really got stuck into the alcohol badly. But that was the extent of my outings, talking to my neighbours, I was quite comfortable with them although I didn’t explain my situation to them. To actually go out was a big thing, and to come down here and spend a day, wow—unreal. That would be about three years ago, it would have been about February-March that they first came and got the vegetables and I’d come down and go home again and whatever. The two women they said “just come down and meet some people” as I’d already told them what was sort of going on after a while; well, not straight up but I’d told them after a while of visits. They said to just come down and mingle for a while, even if just for half an hour and then go home.

“Just come down every now and then,” that was the start of it.

I was just coming down for half an hour and as soon as I was uncomfortable I’d disappear. And gradually it got longer and longer ’til I was here 2 or 3 hours, ’til it was a couple of days a week and now it’s every day. Now I don’t like being inside, it’s the exact opposite. Gradually I’d get to meet people, find out who they were, what they did. Then I’d started doing little bits and pieces around the house. Like Mr Meet-and-Greet, that’s one of the ones I’ve taken on myself, going down to get Second Bite, bringing down my own vegetables of a Monday. Generally tidy up and put things away and whatever. Then I was invited to join the Board. By this time I’d sort of got myself going reasonable.

Continue reading It’s a big thing for me to be able to offer help

We want to excel…

Blogger Sharnah likes living in a place where people look out for each other, but the down side is she feels her career options are pretty limited.

We are back to the West Coast for the fourth instalment from the young people involved in youth week 2015. Thanks again to the Rosebery Neighbourhood house for getting these great little powerpoint blogs to us!

The terrible costs of family violence

Trigger Warning. This blog contains disturbing information about family violence that may be upsetting for readers.

I didn’t believe that there were any beautiful people left in the world, but they are really beautiful people.

Me and my children have had our lives destroyed by drugs and family violence. My son has an ice problem and he has been violent to me – put me in hospital – and threatened his siblings. I have to get security for the whole house, and a dog, to be safe. I’ll be paying those off for 3 years.

I’ve got serious health problems; mental health and physical things too. I lived in the car for ages with my daughter, after my son destroyed the house we were living in. We’ve been in shelters for months, and community housing for a couple of years. But it was out of town and I lost my licence. Now we are in this housing commission place and we can stay here for life. I’d like to win lotto and move to the country and grow my own vegetables though.

I think I’m doing really well on the DSP. I’m broke, all the time, but it’s because I choose to spend my money on my daughter and on security and I feel good about that. I use the City Mission and other places, NILS for getting a fridge and washing machine, that’s how I can do it. I pay for my daughter’s braces, and dancing lessons. I want to give her the best possible chance to stay off drugs.

Once you have mucked up with ice, there is no coming back. Even once you get off it, you are still damaged. My son is a monster. People all have different ways of handling things, but people with drug and alcohol problems need extra special care. They are a danger to society. Sibling violence is worst, because the young ones look up to the older ones and admire them. I think it leaves a bigger scar on them than when a boyfriend hits their Mum.

I want to use natural medicines, but they are too expensive – $200 a month. I don’t know what I will do when my allocated visits to the psychologist run out. I don’t go out of the house, only to get the groceries and to do a bit of volunteer work helping out an old couple at their home.

That work has made me feel like my shell is opening up. I didn’t believe that there were any beautiful people left in the world, but they are really beautiful people. I feel my shell opening up. 

If you are experiencing family violence or abuse please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14

Being Young on the West Coast of Tasmania

What I would really love to have is public transport

This is the first in a series of slide shows which were prepared for youth week this year by some young people from Rosebery.

Kelsie kicks off with her thoughts about what it’s like to live, work and study in an area where her options are pretty limited.

Thanks to Jo from the Rosebery Neighbourhood House for organising these and sending them in to the Bottom Line Blog

Living on the DSP

I am on the Disability Support Pension as I have more than one mental illness and a physical condition. I feel lucky to get the financial support, as some people get nothing. There are times I wish my life was different and easier. At the moment, it’s not too bad. I’ve been through worse.

It can be very difficult being on a low income here in Tasmania.

I feel it is harder here than in Victoria. There are no community health centres here. I cannot afford on-going dental health care at the moment, as it stretches the budget too much. Sadly, my teeth are getting worse.


If I don’t write out my budget and plan for up to 6 weeks in advance I won’t know where my money needs to go. It’s important to balance my necessities and treats, payment by payment. I am able to manage some months easier than others. I feel guilty for buying hobby items, but life involves having fun things too.

I am handy with my hands, which means I have been able to make things for myself for my home. I have saved money by doing this. I do wish my financial situation was better, but I have to manage with what I have.

I try to be grateful for what I have. I look out for sale clothes items all the time. I have slowly built up my kitchen utensils and items of the last year. I have a roof over my head – a safe place I can call my home. I have friends, and I have metal health medication that works.

I do focus too much of my time on money, but when every dollar counts it becomes a way of living: day by day, week by week, payment by payment.

I worry about the financial future. I want it to be as easy as possible, but I will have to wait and see how it pans out.


A winter’s morning at the Benevolent Society: Four people talk about emergency relief.

Food donated to the Launceston Benevolent Society for distribution
Food donated to the Launceston Benevolent Society for distribution

On a chilly winter’s morning recently, four people who came to get emergency relief supplies from the Launceston Benevolent Society kindly shared their story about why they were there. Their experiences highlight the different reasons why people on low incomes run short of money, and the extra challenges that winter brings to managing a budget. Their names have been changed for privacy.


Sean has lived in a housing department house since he got out of jail 18 months ago. He has worked in many different jobs during his life, but had to finish up due to an injury. He has had difficulties controlling his alcohol use, and has had depression and anxiety problems for a while. He has come into the Benevolent Society today because he has bills to pay that won’t be covered by his DSP. He’ll be taking a box of food and a supermarket voucher. They have also helped him in the past with furniture and clothing. He comes every 3 months because it makes his money go further if he can get some assistance. He puts $20 a week aside for his hobby, restoring an old motorbike – Sean says, “It’s better spending it on that than alcohol, and it gives me something to do. When I’m finished I’m going to take my 80 year old Mum for a ride on the back”.


She does not normally come to the Benevolent Society, but they have run out of money because two people in the household are unwell with respiratory problems and they wanted to buy wood for the winter to heat the house better.

47 year old grandmother Heather, says has had a hard life. Her mother died at a young age, and it was very difficult to live by herself with her Dad. She left home and school at 16 and now she and her partner have 3 kids and 5 grandchildren. She has worked as a cleaner for years, but recently became unable to work due to health problems. Her family of four live in a private rental, any pay $380 per fortnight. She arranges for Centrepay to pay her rent, her payments for a new washing machine, and some driving related fines that have built up over the years. She currently pays $50 a fortnight toward getting rid of these. This leaves her with $119 per fortnight spare. Her partner has intermittent work, and he pays the hydro bills and all the car costs. She does not normally come to the Benevolent Society, but they have run out of money because two people in the household are unwell with respiratory problems and they wanted to buy wood for the winter to heat the house better.


John has come for emergency relief today because his power bill has “knocked him out”.

Continue reading A winter’s morning at the Benevolent Society: Four people talk about emergency relief.

Stories from people who live on a low income in Tasmania

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