As this newsletter issue is all about the are some places to get help when the money is already stretched as far as it will go... There is help available if you know where to look for it. 

I've provided some answers to common but often taboo problems that can arise due to the financial pressures that come with being a student.  I find it frustrating that often it is when we're most desperate that help finally arrives and sometimes, even then, it doesnt.  I wish I had known some of what I've included here for you when I was at the bottom of the pit... it may have softened the fall a little!    There are a lot of fantastic services out there if we know where to look.

If you are in any of the situations below, take heart and keep going...Sometimes it means swallowing a little bit of pride, but there is dignity, bravery and courage in asking for help when it is needed.  You may be able to return the favour when you're back on top, and the experiences you've had may be invalueable for someone else who is struggling.   I know how hard it is, and I know that you can get through... How do i know?  Because I've been there and come out the other side too!

Here's what to do if....

I'm behind on my rent and have to leave my house...

Call Centrelink on 136150 straight away and ask to speak to your nearest Social Worker.  They will hook you up with services in your local community.

I can't afford to buy food for my family and petrol to get to work

The Salvo's Welfare or St. Vincents de Paul will get you sorted.

SALVOS WELFARE PH: 07 5443 7775 (QLD).

You'll need to go to Centrelink and ask for a referal to Salvo's Welfare or St. Vinnies on the day you need to see them.  You can only get help for food three times in the same year, so make sure you really need it.

I'm feeling anxious, crying all the time, and having destructive thoughts...

Call Lifeline on...

PH: 13 11 14

Talk it out until you feel calmer and able to think clearly.  Then, call your local GP and make the soonest possible appointment time.  If you tell them its urgent and you feel very mentally unstable, tell them if you're having thoughts of harming yourself or others; they are obligated to get you in to see someone immediately.

I'm struggling with parenting my children...

If for any reason you're finding looking after your children difficult, the Family Care Program run by Queensland Health is an amazing resource.

PH:  07 5459 6901

You can ask to speak to the Early Intervention and Parenting Specialist, OR a child care nurse.   It's a free service for Health Care Card holders and they can counsel you and your children on any issue to work towards a solution.

My bills are mounting up and I just can't get on top

Setting budgets/financial counselling

Again, the Salvo's have a fantastic Financial Counselling service.  The financial counsellor will help you devise a budget, set goals, help with writing letters to the businesses that are hassling you and may even be able to access financial hardship programs on your behalf, wiping some of your debts completely.

Bill Relief

Most companies today, including the majors like Telstra, Optus, AGL, Integral Energy, etc. have a duty of care to assist anyone claiming financial hardship whilst still providing them with the basic services required to live in society at a reasonable level.  You must INSIST that you want to talk to the financial hardship officer or team. You are under NO OBLIGATION to agree to a payment plan if you cannot reasonably afford it.  If they ask, say 'NO.  I would like to speak to your financial hardship person please".

I want to save money, but I barely have enough to get through the week, how can I do it?

Student Loans & Grants

Firstly, it's a good idea stay away from the big banks and financial institutions!  Most Universities have a student loan available for students under hardship to pay for educational expenses such as books and the like.  You may need to have an interview with Student Services staff but it is well worth the effort for an interest free loan to get your studies going in the right direction.

Student Services and your faculty will also know of student scholarships and grants for one off payments to help you with your studies.  Everything from a bursary per semester for the duration of your course, to a travel subsidy. I was actually granted a Commonwealth Learning Scholarship of  $1200 per semester for the first 3 years of my degree.  It saved my butt every semester! :)

Savings Plans / Reward systems

FREE $500 for Education Costs!

Are you studying or have children at school? Saver Plus could provide you with $500 to assist with education costs. Applicants must be 18 or over, earning some income from work, with a health care or pension card. The Smith Family have struck a deal with the ANZ bank.  For every amount that nominate and save over a 10 month period, the ANZ bank will match it.  So if you nominate to save the maximum amount of $50 per month and make the deposit each month for 10 months ($500 savings in total), ANZ will GIVE you another $500!!

Contact The Smith Family on 1300 610 355 or email to find out more.

I want to make money from home whilst studying...

I have found that diversifying my income so that Im not dependant on any one source for my cashflow is ESSENTIAL to having greater lifestyle sustainability...  There are some great initiatives and businesses out there these days...some of them are accessable, home-based, and do-able even with virtually no money to get started!  You just need committment, a bit of creative thinking and a desire to dig yourself out of your hole and the motivation to succeed.  Home-based businesses such as online shopping businesses or virtual assistant type services are excellent alternatives to trying to fit an 'out of home' job around family, lectures and study.   

Check out the current 'Watch This Head Space' newsletter for more info.  Register by clicking here now.