Help for Families Just Starting Out

Money help for familiesIf you are a family just starting out, you may be worried about how the new addition to your family is going to affect your household budget. It is a fact that babies are expensive to raise, but the Australian government, as well as, several charities have set up programs to help parents offset some of the costs involved in raising their children. These benefits can help you stay on track with your budget and can help alleviate some of the financial pressure you may be feeling. There are many things you can do before and after having a baby to keep costs under control and make finances a non-issue. Below is a quick look at how some of these benefits will affect you.

Taking Time Off
Of course, you probably want to take some time off right after you have the baby. The benefits listed below are set up to allow you to stay home with your baby for several weeks.

  • Parental Leave. These benefits will pay a weekly payment of $622.10 for a maximum of 18 weeks after the birth of her baby, or the day of adoption. This allows you some time to bond with the baby without worrying about your finances.
  • Baby Bonus. Some mothers choose to take the Baby Bonus benefits instead, which offer a payment of $3,000 to $5,000 that is distributed over t 13 fortnightly payments. Mothers may not receive both the Parental Leave bonus and the Baby Bonus payment.
  • Dad and Partner. This benefit allows the father of the baby to also stay home to bond with his newborn for the first two weeks. The father will receive a $622.10 per week, but is will be paid in one lump sum payment.

Government Benefits
The government also offer several benefits that will help families over a longer period of time. These payments can be used to help offset everyday household expenses that may be increased due to the new addition to the family.

  • Parenting Payment. If you are single and raising a child under the age of 8-years old, or a couple raising a child under 6-years old, you may be eligible for these Parenting Payments. These additional payments are designed to help offset the cost of running a household with children. The payments are paid on a fortnightly-basis and are as much as $713.20 for a single and $460.90 for couples.
  • Family Tax Benefit. The benefits helps to lower the amount of taxes you owe at the end of the year. The exact amount of Family Tax Benefit you will receive is based on your family size and income.

Offset Household Expenses
There are also numerous benefits that can help offset some of your other household expenses. Some of these are available through the Centrelink office, while other are offered by charitable organizations.

  • Rent Assistance. These benefits will help to offset the costs you pay for renting your home. The exact amount of assistance that will be offered depends on your family size and income, as well as, the type of home your rent.
  • Telephone Allowance. This benefit helps to cover some of the expenses involved in maintaining a telephone in your home. Payments range from $26.30 to $39.40 and are paid on a quarterly basis.
  • Food Banks. There are numerous food banks located around Australia. Every state and territory has a food bank that is funded at least partially through the Australian government. In addition, many local churches also offer food banks.
  • Salvation Army. This charity has Community Service Centres located across the country. The offer financial support to low-income families that include food vouchers, clothing, furniture, help with energy bills, rent, medical, and transportation costs.

If you are planning to go back to work, you may also need help covering some of the expenses of childcare.

  • Childcare Benefit. ¬†These benefits will help cover some, or all, of the expenses involved in taking your children to a qualified childcare centre while you are working. These payments are made directly to the childcare centre and reduce the amount you owe.
  • Childcare Rebate. This rebate can refund you up to 50 per cent of the fees you paid for childcare during the year. Unlike the Childcare Benefit, you must pay for these services upfront and be reimbursed later.

All of these benefits are designed to help you offset the costs involved in maintaining your household. You should start by contacting the Centrelink office to determine what benefits you are eligible for. Then you can contact all of the local charities in your area to see what, if any, eligibility requirements they have. This should help alleviate some of your financial stress, and help you get back on track financially.

If you are aware of other benefits or services that assist families please share in our comments section for our readers.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

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