Skip to main content

Managing on a low income

Making the most of what you have

Page reading time: 3 minutes

Get the most out of your money by knowing what financial support is available, and practical ways to manage your costs.

If you're in crisis or struggling to make ends meet, see urgent help with money.

Check if you are eligible for Government assistance

The Australian Government, state and territory governments offer financial support, concessions, and rebates for people on low incomes or who are experiencing hardship. Visit their websites to see if you're eligible. 

Australian Government benefits and payments
Services Australia

Centrelink Payment and Service Finder

For pensions (aged, disability) and one-off payments.

 

Guide to Australian Government payments

Department of Social Services

DSS Benefits and Payments

For housing, aged care and disability services, see benefits and payments and concessions, allowances and supplements

 

State Government concessions, grants and assistance
Australian Capital Territory

Home - Assistance (act.gov.au)

New South Wales

Cost of Living | Service NSW

Northern Territory

Concessions and payments - NT.GOV.AU

 

Grants directory - NT.GOV.AU

Queensland

Smart Savings Concessions and Rebates (premiers.qld.gov.au)

South Australia

SA.GOV.AU - Concessions, benefits and grants (www.sa.gov.au)

Tasmania

Tasmanian Government Concessions : Home

Victoria

Concessions and benefits - DHHS Services (dffh.vic.gov.au)

Western Australia

Grants and subsidies | Western Australian Government (www.wa.gov.au)

 

WA Seniors Card

Financial programs to help people on low incomes

Some providers help to give people on low incomes a boost with their finances. Check their websites to see if you’re eligible.

Boost your superannuation contributions

If you earn $37,000 or less, you may be eligible for a low-income superannuation tax offset (LISTO). This means that the Australian Government will contribute to your super balance, up to $500 per year. See super contributions for further information.

Savings plans

Saver Plus helps people on low incomes to save and to improve their financial skills.

You set a savings goal, and when you reach it, the amount is matched (up to $500).

Loans for essentials

The No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) offers affordable credit for families on a low income. Loans are available for essential goods and services such as fridges, washing machines, car repairs and medical procedures for up to $1,500.

Cheaper insurance

The Good Insurance program offers cheaper car and home insurance for people on low incomes.

Practical ways to manage your costs

Automate your regular bill payments

Set up automatic direct debits for regular bills to take a little each pay day, if you can. Or set up a bank transfer for a small amount into a separate account for ‘bills’, and get your direct debits to come out of this account.

Pay large bills in smaller instalments

Contact your utility and other providers to ask them about paying bills in smaller amounts more often. You may be able to pay fortnightly or monthly, to avoid the shock of a large bill. This can be useful to manage large bills, such as car registration and insurance.

If you get a Centrelink payment from Services Australia, you can use their free Centrepay service to do this. This can help with regular bills, such as rent.

Track your spending

To see how much money is going out, track what you spend over one or two weeks. Include every transaction, no matter how small. See track your spending for easy ways to do this.

Look for ways to reduce spending

Look at your expenses and think about your needs and wants. You may be able to find some things you could cut back on, at least for a while. See simple ways to save money for ideas.

Set a budget

Having a budget helps you to feel more in control of your money. You can put aside money for big bills when they arrive, and plan savings to achieve your money goals.

Woman and her daughter playing with toy abacus.

Nikita looks at her spending

Nikita is a single mum on a low income. She was finding that she was always running out of money before her next payday. This made it hard if she got an unexpected bill, and it made her quite anxious about money.

She decided to look for ways to improve her situation. She started by being more aware of her spending.

'I was amazed at how much we were spending on small, unnecessary items that quickly added up. By planning meals ahead and cooking at home, I managed to build some savings. It was hard, but it's a relief to know I can manage if my car needs repairs or if one of my kids needs something for school.'