Five Friends who are making you broke

A broke man at bar
  1. The Expensive Dinner Friends – They ask you out to dinner. It’s ok, you’re on a budget but you can have dinner out every once in a while. Until you get there, and just by the attitude of the wait staff, it’s clear it’s going to be expensive. That’s alright; I’ll just order an entrée and a glass of water. Then your friend orders an expensive bottle of wine, 3 courses and wants to just split the bill 50/50 because it’s easier.
  2. The ‘Broke” Friend. The opposite of the expensive dinner friend but just as bad. They never have money for anything. The rock up to a BBQ at your house with nothing. They never grab the last round at the pub. They ask if they can go in on a group present and then never pay up.
  3. The Charity Mugger. Last month they were doing dry July, next month it’s some charity bike ride, the next month it’s something else. Then there’s the personal email and then it’s all done through some website where they will KNOW if you didn’t give them any money.
  4. The Gift Giver. Merry Christmas here’s a present. Great now I have to get you one. Thanks for that. Or the family member that gets you an overly expensive gift and then you look like the cheap one.
  5. The Keeping up with Appearances Friend. They’ve got a new car, nice clothes and a big house. They may tell you to treat yourself or more dangerously they may change your expectations of what’s normal.

If you’re experiencing financial hardship, we can help.
It takes less than 10 minutes for a debt management solution to be tailored to your current circumstances.
For a free, no obligation phone consultation with our caring team call 1300 171 351
You’ll be glad you did.

Live decadently while on a budget with these 5 affordable luxuries

Man getting a massage

1. Wine

A home cooked meal with a nice bottle of wine is a perfect affordable evening in, however wine can be expensive, particularly in Australia. A cheap wine from the bottle shop will set you back $8 or more. We shopped around for a better deal and found these two budget friendly options:

Greys Online runs wine auctions. You can pick up wine for under $5 a bottle but you do need to buy a case.

Aldi’s online liquor store bottles of wine starting at $2.89.

2. Breakfast

Breakfast out is one of life’s simple pleasures, and it is typically cheaper than dinner. But if you really want to save money, go for a fancy breakfast at home. Invite your friends, set the table, get the coffee machine going, go all out. Typically, the cost of one breakfast out can feed four or more at home!

Here’s a great pancake recipe

Here’s how to make hollandaise sauce

Her is the best french toast ever (use whatever bread you’ve got. 85cent Coles breads works fine)

3. Concert Tickets

Concerts are amazing but these days they can be crazy expensive. So if you’re on a budget, the chances are that live entertainment isn’t probably on your list of things to do. Here are a couple of ways to get cheap tickets if you’re open to seeing something new:

Last Tix – has last minute deals for concerts. Sometimes at 50% or more off.

Gumtree is also a great place to buy cheap tickets. eBay tends to be dominated by scalpers but Gumtree seems to have genuine people who can’t make the event.


There is nothing more luxurious that a massage. Lying there while someone does nothing else but make your sore, overworked muscles feel good again.

Natural therapy training colleges tend to run practice sessions for their students and these massages can be very affordable. However they are students so it can be a bit hit or miss.

Try the Think Wellbeing Centres $20/hour

Or the NSW School of Massage

4. Chocolate

The only reason I go to Aldi is for the Moser-Roth chocolate, which is actually amazing. No joke it’s Cadbury good. Choice Magazine rates Coles Milk Chocolate as the best. Even those on a budget can afford a little chocolate.


If you’re experiencing financial hardship, we can help.
It takes less than 10 minutes for a debt management solution to be tailored to your current circumstances.
For a free, no obligation phone consultation with our caring team call 1300 171 351
You’ll be glad you did.

How to buy a house when you’ve got debt and bad credit

Saving money for a house

For most Australians owning their own home is a major goal in life. Achieving a goal like home ownership takes commitment, and a plan. If you’re struggling with debt and have bad credit it might seem like an impossible dream but it is possible and achievable. It will take work and it’s not going to happen tomorrow. Here’s our 5 step plan for getting you a house.

Step 1

Commitment: If you’re committed to buying a home. Write that goal down and put it in your wallet or purse. I know it sounds stupid but it works. When I was saving for my deposit I wrote it in permanent marker on my debit card so I had to look at it every time I spent money. When I was feeling weak and going to buy take away for lunch it would remind me of what I was committed to, then I’d go the supermarket and buy noodles instead.

Here’s a great link to achieving goals.

Step 2

Be open-minded and flexible. Property prices in most capital cities are really high. The less you spend the sooner you’ll get into a house. Find cheaper suburbs, consider an apartment and if you’re prepared to move, home ownership can become a lot more affordable. (Here’s a list of the 10 cheapest places to buy in Australia) . Sydney has an average price of $660,000 and it’s going to be considerably harder to buy than in the Latrobe Valley with an average price of $215,000. You would only need a $43,000 deposit in the Latrobe vs $132,000 in Sydney. At $215,000 it even becomes possible to imagine paying off a house and living mortgage free. CRAZY!

Step 3

Crush you debt: You need to clear all your debt in order to buy a house. Even if you could get a mortgage do you really want to pay off your mortgage AND your debt at the same time?

Go to the MoneySmart Credit Card Calculator and work out how long it’s going to take you to be debt free, be prepared to be horrified.

Now you’ve seen how long it’s going to take you. Is that good enough? NO. If you’re committed to buying your house, you need to clear your debt by ANY MEANS NECESSARY. You need to be aggressive with your budget. Get your expenses down as much as possible and put every extra dollar on your debts. Get a side gig to earn more money . Sell your stuff on eBay. Have a look at our information on payment strategies to work out the most effective way to pay them off.

If it’s just not possible to put any extra on your debt or you’re struggling, look at using a Debt Agreement or even Bankruptcy. They’ll get you debt free in 3-5 years max. If you’re going to be paying off your credit card for 10 years plus why wouldn’t you think about it?

Step 4

Aggressively save for a deposit: Now your debt free, you need to get your deposit together. In order to avoid mortgage insurance, which is expensive, you’ll need a 20% deposit. All that money you were throwing on your debts – Guess what? Now it’s all yours. You’re so close now; don’t be tempted to spend it. Pour it all straight into a high interest online savings account and watch your deposit grow.

Step 5

Doing it; make small steps towards it every day. Every time you eat at home and not take away – That’s a step towards your goal. Every time you make an extra payment on your debt – That’s a step towards your goal.


If you’re experiencing financial hardship, we can help.
It takes less than 10 minutes for a debt management solution to be tailored to your current circumstances.
For a free, no obligation phone consultation with our caring team call 1300 171 351
You’ll be glad you did.

Which Australian capital city gives you the most bang for your buck?

Adelaide and Moneybags

Which Australian capital city gives you the most bang for your buck?

You’ve probably heard on the news that Australian cities are amongst the most expensive places to live in world. The problem is that most of these articles are written by people who don’t even live here! So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to crunch the numbers and provide you with the definitive ranking of which capital city will give you the most bang for your buck.

Starting with the most expensive city, we think you’ll be surprised with our findings.

7. Darwin

Cost of living: 32% higher than the national average

Weekly Darwin
Rent  $  630.00
Groceries  $  240.00
Petrol  $    59.85
Rego  $    13.12
Energy  $    35.00
Public Transport  $      7.00
Total  $  984.97


Darwin residents have a reputation that matches their cost of living, a little crazy. Darwin (according to our calculations) is the most expensive place in to live in Australia, which will probably be a big surprise to everyone except those people who actually live in Darwin.

It has the highest rent of any city at $630 per week, which is good news for landlords but nobody else.

Groceries are also the most expensive of any capital city. This is due to a large number of goods needing to be shipped in from the southern states. Being the smallest of all the capital cities, it doesn’t have the scale to drive down costs like the bigger cities.

Petrol is insanely expensive in Darwin, and for a city that has really poor public transport it probably has a bigger impact than the 35/L per week we factored in. For equivalent’s sake we included one return trip on public transport, but from our discussions with Darwinians, public transport isn’t really a viable option.

Two things you will save money on in Darwin are jumpers, and heating, because it’s bloody hot 365 days of the year. Sadly because Darwin is as close to the temperature of the sun as you can get in Australia, that saving will be offset by your 365 days of air conditioning.

6. Sydney

Cost of Living: 10% Higher than the national average.

Weekly Sydney
Rent  $  530.00
Groceries  $  180.43
Petrol  $    53.20
Rego  $    16.36
Energy  $    32.00
Public Transport  $       6.80
Total  $  818.79


Sydney is the 5th most expensive places to live on the planet according to, probably because no one at Time has heard of Darwin. I’m fairly sure that people from Sydney have heard of Darwin!

Sydney only has the second most expensive rent in the country. How is that possible? Well… Sydney is a big place and whilst the national press thinks that all Sydneysiders reside in Bondi or Ultimo, there are actually a lot more affordable suburbs where people actually live.

Sydney does have two things going for it. One – its massive population makes it a big market so groceries are the second cheapest in the country, and it’s got a pretty great climate which keeps a lid on energy use.

5. Perth

Cost of Living: 1% Higher than the national average

Weekly Perth
Rent  $  450.00
Groceries  $  199.93
Petrol  $    53.20
Rego  $       9.20
Energy  $    31.00
Public Transport  $       6.40
Total  $  749.73

Perth is the most remote city on earth in terms of its distance from another town with a population of more than 100,000. You’d have to drive 2104km to Adelaide. To put that in perspective it’s only 2800km from London to Moscow. So the idea of a road trip has a different meaning there.

In a city this isolated, grocery prices are going to be high. Perth has the second most expensive groceries in our list. That isolation also makes internet shopping a nightmare. It does however, keep us east-coasties from discovering the perfection that is drinking a cold beer and watching the sun setting over a perfect surf beach.

As the administrative centre for WA, Perth had large pressures put on its real estate during the mining boom. Rent is still pretty crazy, but now that Sydney and Darwin are completely insane they don’t look so bad by comparison.

Transport-wise, Perth has the cheapest car registration in the country and is on par for the cheapest public transport.


Cost of living: 7% below the national average.

Weekly Bris
Rent  $  410.00
Groceries  $  185.97
Petrol  $    53.90
Rego  $    12.54
Energy  $    27.00
Public Transport  $       6.40
Total  $       695.81

This one was a surprise. I thought for sure Brisbane would be cheaper than Melbourne, given all my Melbourne friends complain constantly about how expensive it is to live there. However, it has the same problem that Perth has and that’s an abundance of mining money inflating the hell out of rent.  You only have to be at the airport on a weekday morning and see the abundance of high-vis clothing in the Qantas lounge to work that out.

Rent is the main factor that makes Brisbane unaffordable. In our study we looked at house rental prices and in Brisbane there is a shortage of housing but an abundance of units. If we looked at units it might be different.

Energy prices in Brisbane are the cheapest of any city. Brisbane temps are the most comfortable of any capital city so there is really no requirement for heating (try telling a Brisbanite that) and air conditioning is really only needed for a couple of days a year.


Cost of living: 9% below the national average.

Weekly Melbourne
Rent  $  390.00
Groceries  $  179.57
Petrol  $    52.15
Rego  $    14.57
Energy  $    37.00
Public Transport  $       6.40
Total  $  679.69


Hold on… has Melbourne as the 6th most expensive city on the planet and you’ve put it as the 3rd cheapest capital city in Australia? That’s right. Basically, according to Americans there are only 2 cities in Australia; Melbourne and Sydney. Melbourne by comparison, is a pretty affordable place to live in comparison to some other capital cities.

Rent outside of central Melbourne is much cheaper than all the other cities previously listed. Melbourne’s excellent public transport system also means that living outside of the inner city doesn’t mean you’re car dependant, another saving.

The public transport system in Melbourne is on par the cheapest in the country and given its high quality really enables a much better standard of living for those on low and middle incomes than in other cities.

Melbourne also has the cheapest groceries of any capital city. Its large population creates a big market and given how food focused Melbourne is, there is a lot more competition than there is in other cities.

The downside is that it gets cold, so heating bills increase energy use.


Cost of living: 12% below the national average

Weekly Hobart
Rent  $  350.00
Groceries  $  186.26
Petrol  $    56.70
Rego  $    15.34
Energy  $    38.00
Public Transport  $       6.40
Total  $  652.70


Hobart has the equal the cheapest rent in Australia. This is the major contributing factor to its ranking as the second most affordable capital in Australia. It’s 85% more expensive to rent a house in Darwin than it is in Hobart. Given that why don’t more Darwinians move to Hobart? Oh that’s right, it’s cold! Hobart is the coldest of the capitals and thus has the highest energy costs of any city in this study. So, if you don’t mind the cold Hobart may be the place for you.

Bass Straight stops Hobart from being the most affordable capital. The high cost of shipping goods to Hobart means that groceries and petrol are more expensive than the mainland, but not at Darwin levels.

1. Adelaide

Cost of living: 14% lower than the national average

Rent  $  350.00
Groceries  $  184.83
Petrol  $    52.50
Rego  $    10.50
Energy  $    34.00
Public Transport  $       8.00
Total  $  639.83


Adelaide is the cheapest capital city to live in of all the capitals in Australia. In every expense category but energy and public transport, it’s below the national average. Even energy is only .60c per week more expensive than average. It’s also in the Top 10 of The Economist’s “World’s Most Liveable Cities” so it’s a pretty compelling place to live.

It has the cheapest rental market of all the capital cities. When we searched today (19/6/15), we found an abundance of 3 bedroom houses for $300/week. That just doesn’t happen in any other capital city!

To put how affordable Adelaide into perspective, it’s 27% more expensive to live in Sydney and 53% more expensive to live in Darwin! Adelaide has festivals. It’s close to wine country. It’s got sport. Why wouldn’t you live in Adelaide?


If you’re experiencing financial hardship, we can help.
It takes less than 10 minutes for a debt management solution to be tailored to your current circumstances.
For a free, no obligation phone consultation with our caring team call 1300 171 351
You’ll be glad you did.

Sarah on Getting Debt Free and Debt Agreements


Can you tell me a bit about yourself, your background, what you learnt about money growing up?

I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth.  My father owned multiple businesses and rental properties.  When I was five my father passed away and left a lot of funds, property and other investments.  My mother got poor advice and she lost everything except the house we were living in.  From that time in my family it was either feast or famine.

My mother taught me to enjoy money when you had it, as it was quickly gone.  I couldn’t spend it fast enough.  I just remember having all the good things and then one day I wasn’t able to have those things anymore and it was difficult to understand why.

Can you tell me about what was happening in your life when you accumulated the debt?

We had a lot of fun spending the money.  I was always buying what I wanted.  Deep down I knew I was using credit cards to fund a life I would eventually have to pay back but I thought I had it under control.

Once I started having to use the credit cards to make every day purchases I knew things were going downhill.  My partner and I were not on the same page with regard to finances.  We were always at odds about money and what needed paying.

Can you talk about your debt and what it meant to you? Was there something it stopped you from doing? What was the impact?

Debt weighed on my mind every single day.  You can’t do the most simple things, like buy a coffee, without thinking that it’s money you need to pay your debts.  I had massive repayments every week.

I avoided supermarkets because it was the only ‘bill’ I could control.  We basically could not afford to eat.  We were a double income family and this was the position we were in.  I felt ashamed.

I started feeling anxious when the phone rang, thinking it was a debt collector.  I felt like I was juggling all these balls and if I stopped, it would all fall apart.

When did you start your journey to being debt free? What made you start?

A friend of mine had her house repossessed due to credit card debt.  It really filled me with horror.  This was a family who I thought had all their finances together.  They lived in a house worth $500K (expensive for Hobart).  Their kids went to private school and took a lot of holidays.  It was all a lie.  I knew I could be there also if I did not take control.

More than anything I wanted my children to learn to manage their money.  I wanted to teach them how to best manage their own funds.  I want my kids to become financially independent.  This is extremely important to me.

I made some goals.  I was going to be debt free.  I was going to stop being a slave to plastic.   I was going to own my own home by 50.  I was going to be in a position to buy my kids some “treats”.

I did the sums – my partner and I owed approximately $60K credit card debt.  At the payments I was making I was going to pay back around $180K and it would take me 23 years to get debt free.  This nearly dropped me to the ground. I knew I could not do this.  A Debt Agreement was the very best option for me.

Four years ago I shopped around various debt solution options.  They were quite painful with masses of forms etc.  I nearly didn’t go ahead with Debt Mediators however after speaking with Shannon at Debt Mediators, all the help, patience and understanding, I knew I had made the right decision.

Where there any false starts or bumps along the way?

Always, but that’s life. – Debt Mediators are soooo understanding and flexible – I would recommend them to anyone.  All the staff I dealt with were amazing and sincerely wanted to help.

There will always be unforeseeable expenses that arise. AMEX or Citibank don’t care that you have to go to the dentist but Debt Mediators do and they understand.  If you are open with the communication, anything can be arranged!

What’s life like now?

I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders.  I can walk tall and know that I have sorted my finances out and learned the hard lessons.  I will never ever let my finances get out of control ever again.  Now I’m debt free I’m in a position to be a better – mother, wife and friend.  I can have lunch with my friends and not worry about the $$$ – same with car rego, insurance.  I have a fresh, improved quality of life.

My children have excellent skills managing their own money and they are both well on their way to saving for their own house and my youngest is only 19.  Not one of them has a credit card.  I am proud and relieved to say we have ALL learned so much from this experience.  It is a blessing.

Now I’ve paid my debt agreement I am so motivated to thrash my mortgage.  The thing I look forward to most is owning my own home.  I’m putting all the money I was paying from the Debt Agreement into my mortgage.  I have worked out that after 7 years I will own the house and that feels better than any pair of heels or handbag.

What would you like to say to someone who has debt now?

Do yourself a favour, call Debt Mediators.  Your situation will not get better by merely paying the interest off the cards.  You need to take control and Debt Mediators can and will help.  Even if you are unsure, speak to someone who can assist you with making the decision, it will be the best decision you ever make!