Whether you own your home or are renting, financial stress can hit anyone at any stage of their life.
Unforeseen circumstances and expenses can pop up at any time, but a knowledge of some of the telltale signs of financial stress as well as a knowledge of where to go for help can place you on the right track to keeping a roof over your head and stress at bay.
Housing in Australia today
The 2016 Census revealed some alarming truths about homelessness in Australia today. 20-30 year olds are at a high risk, accounting for 25 per cent of those experiencing homelessness in 2016. Meanwhile, on Census night in 2016, 116,000 people were experiencing some form of homelessness.
While it is all too easy to find people in need of shelter within the inner city, homelessness and financial stress is a predominantly hidden problem. The consequences of financial stress and homelessness on mental health only make things worse, or can even be the cause for people to slide into financially dire situations. Shame drives further breakdowns in a person’s ability to stay afloat, well before they lose the roof above their heads.
In 2015-16, 1.3 million households fit the criteria to be considered under financial stress, which is why you should not feel shame if you are in need of help.
Are you at risk of financial stress?
According to the ABS, some clear signs that you are at risk of financial stress include:
- You are unable to raise $2,000 within a week for anything important. For instance, you may have a dental emergency, with no private health insurance, and the costs of having a crown and all of your wisdom teeth may come to $1,500. Add to this a parking ticket and a wedding gift for your friends, and you are quickly at $2000 within a week.
- You spend more money than you receive, i.e. you’re debt is growing, not shrinking.
- You struggle to pay your bills, registration fees or avoid driving your car because you cannot afford fuel.
- You have had to sell something to cover your outgoings.
- You avoid heating or cooling your home because you don’t think you can afford to, while you may even miss meals to save some extra money.
- You have asked money from friends and family.
There are also lifestyle indicators of financial stress. These include such things as not having the money to go on a holiday at least once a year, eating in a restaurant at least once a fortnight, cannot afford leisure activities such as gym fees or nights out with friends. A shrinking social life and an empty stomach are a clear sign of your financial precariousness.
Resources for when you need help
Across the country there are various places to go if you find yourself without a home, as well as resources for those who think their finances are at a point to place them at risk of homelessness.
While the job market is tough, energy prices are high and the cost of living makes it hard for many households, understanding how best to use your money to get out of debt is the most important step to finding financial freedom. Having a long term and healthy view of your finances is the best way to avoid having to seek help from the below sources. But if you do find yourself in need of these services, never feel embarrassed as anybody can end up in trouble at any point in their lives.
Sydney – Sydney Homeless Connect are a great team who can help put you in contact with the services you need, such as crisis housing and longer term accommodation.
Melbourne – A good source of help if you have found yourself without a roof is Melbourne City Mission. They can help you if you are finding yourself in financial stress while still renting or owning a home.
Brisbane – Home For Good is funded by the Queensland government, and helps individuals and families facing a crisis in their housing.
Hobart – Shelter Tas are a good first stop if you are looking for emergency accommodation.
Adelaide – There are a number of first contact services in Adelaide, but Hutt St Centre are a well organised source of support, providing meals, laundry, lockers, showers and an op shop.
Darwin – A great online resource, ShelterMe is a well-designed and easy to use website for finding not only housing but other services, including financial advice and support.
Perth – Entrypoint Perth can help you long before you are facing homelessness. They point you in the right direction to find help in managing your finances so that you can hold on to your home.
Canberra – OneLink works with the ACT Government and is your main source of help if you find yourself in economic strife.