Looking after your financial wellbeing

Say ‘wellbeing’ and you may think of yoga or healthy eating, or maybe a walk with a friend. But what about addressing one of the most stressful factors in life… finances?

Yep, ‘financial wellbeing’ is the latest buzzword on the block, and with very good reason.

“Just like other contributors to a person’s overall health, financial wellbeing is where a person feels their finances are under control,” says Denise Clark from The Smith Family.

“Being able to plan spending, saving and budgeting is likely to contribute to a person’s sense that they have their finances under control, a key component of financial wellbeing.”

Sounds great!

But how do I save when I have no money?

Ever heard of a matched savings program?

These fabulous yet relatively unknown programs have grown considerably across the globe since their inception in the 1990s. Designed around the theory that for people to move out of poverty they need assets as well as income, matched savings programs match a person’s savings dollar for dollar.

Australia’s matched saving program, Saver Plus, has been running for over 15 years and is delivered in 60 communities across Australia. It remains the largest and longest-running matched savings program in the world, and is arguably the most successful. Its primary goal is to help participants create and maintain a savings habit, build financial resilience and improve financial capabilities.

“Participants in Saver Plus are enrolled for 10 months, save regularly towards purchasing an education product for themselves or their child(ren) and have their savings matched at a rate of 1:1 (up to a capped amount of $500 per participant),” explains Denise.

“Through the combination of financial education, support and the incentive of matched funds, the financial wellbeing of participants is greatly increased.”

Tiffany Clark initially joined the program to purchase a laptop for her daughter. “With my daughter starting Year 7 the following year and needing a compulsory laptop that I had no way of affording, I saw Saver Plus as my only way to purchase a laptop for my daughter’s schooling,” the mum says.

“Honestly, I always felt stuck in a bit of a rut. I couldn’t see a way out. I learnt that by saving just $12.50 a week, and placing it into an account I pretty much forgot about, that by 10 months I’ll have $500—which on such a low income can help so much,” she says.

Through the matched savings program, Tiffany managed to purchase the laptop. But that was only the beginning.

“After buying the laptop with the money I saved, I realised that any amount of money no matter how small can add up and you can buy things that seem unachievable with such a low income.”

Having got engaged shortly after completion of the program, Tiffany went on to save for her dream wedding, whilst also studying.

“For me, the program was successful because it taught me that there is always a way out of a difficult situation, no matter how small the movements I make towards this. The strategies I have learnt will help us beyond the wedding as we have big plans for our future!”

To be eligible for Saver Plus, you must:

  • Have a Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card AND an eligible Centrelink payment
  • Be in school yourself OR have a child in school (can be starting school next year)
  • Have regular income from work (either yourself or your partner)
  • Be 18+ years old

For more information on the Saver Plus program, visit www.saverplus.org.au or call 1300 610 355.

Developed in 2003 between the Brotherhood of St Laurence and ANZ, Saver Plus is offered across Australia by local community organisations. The program is co-funded by The Department of Social Services and ANZ.


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Written by Angela Sutherland

After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music.

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