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.
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”.