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Manage the cost of living

Practical ways to manage costs and stay on top of bills

Page reading time: 2 minutes

Here are some quick ways to reduce your living costs. Having a money plan helps you stay on top of your spending and bills. There's also free support and services to go to if you're feeling overwhelmed.

If you're in crisis and struggling to pay for essentials, there are services to help you with food, bills and housing. See urgent help with money.

Easy ways to reduce living costs

Start small. Instead of trying to look at all your living costs at once, focus on one area at a time. This feels easier and gets you into the mindset to make more changes. You can do this.

For example, take note of your daily spending for a week. This can help you find quick ways to reduce your spending — at least for a while. See track your spending.

In many households, groceries and electricity bills are where rising costs bite the most. For ways to reduce these and other costs, see simple ways to save money.

Smooth out your big bills

Some services, like electricity, council rates or insurance, offer 'bill smoothing'. This is where you pay bills in smaller amounts, instead of paying the whole amount in one go.

Ask your service providers if you can pay fortnightly or monthly, to avoid the shock of a large bill.

If you get a Centrelink payment from Services Australia, you can use their free Centrepay service to do this.

For utility vouchers, rebates and tips on how to deal with different bills, see problems paying your bills and fines.

Prioritise your rent or mortgage payments

When you're looking at payments, make your rent or mortgage a top priority.

If you're struggling to pay your rent, see rent steps to take on the National Debt Helpline website.

Talk to your lender straight away if you're having problems paying your mortgage. The earlier you get help, the more options you have.

Make a money plan

Take charge of where your money goes day-to-day by doing a budget. This lets you look at needs and wants, and prioritise what matters most.

Even if you can only save a little, start saving for an emergency fund. This helps you cope better with big bills, and look after you or your family when needed.

Avoid borrowing to pay off another loan, buy now pay later or credit card. Get help if you’re having trouble with money.

Get help if you need it

If you're not sure where to start, there is free help available.

Financial counselling

Financial counsellors help you manage debts and get your finances back on track. This is a free and confidential service.

Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007. Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4:30pm. Or live chat, Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 8:00pm.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can call Mob Strong Debt Helpline on 1800 808 488. Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Debt management

Call Way Forward on 1300 045 502. Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 7:00pm. If you're in financial hardship, they can arrange a debt repayment plan on your behalf. This is a free service.

Emotional support

Call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, 24 hours a day. Or live chat 24 hours a day.