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Managing Bills and Credit

Paying Bills

You can pay bills over the phone using B-Pay or with online banking that you can set up with your bank. Also, most bills (except rent) can be paid at the post office. It’s a good idea to keep receipts of all bills that you pay for your own records.
If you have a health care card (call Centrelink to see if you’re eligible) you may be entitled to cheaper bills, so it’s always worth asking the company. If you ever get stuck and can’t pay all your bills at once you can call the company and ask if you could work out a payment plan so that you pay regular smaller amounts (that fits in with your budget!) until the bill is paid off.
The easiest way to budget when paying bills is to use budget cards where available. They let you pay off small amounts before you get your bill so that it is reduced when you get it. Or, if you are receiving Centrelink payments, you can use Centrepay to pay for many of your everyday expenses including gas, water, rent and water. Centrepay is a direct billing service which pays your bills in manageable amounts straight out of your Centrelink payments.

Phones

Nowadays pretty much everyone from toddlers to grannies have a mobile! It’s best to get a prepaid one so that you only spend money that you actually have rather than ending up with a bill at the end of the month that you may find hard to pay.
Home phones can sometimes be the source of arguments in share homes. It’s possible to get a bar put on expensive outgoing calls such as mobiles and international calls. This way you’re only dividing up a bill of local calls which are fairly cheap.

Credit

Credit can seem like magical free money but be warned, it definitely isn’t! Basically, credit is when you are given a product or money, and instead of paying for it upfront you pay it off later. The catch is that you have to pay back interest, which is a small percentage of the total cost, as well as the amount you owe. This is how the businesses offering you credit make their money. Even if something is advertised as interest free, there are probably huge fees if you don’t make all your payments on time or really high interest after the interest-free period ends. Always be wary when signing credit agreements, read the fine print and remember that the business plans on making money somehow so don’t be caught out! Types of credit include personal loans, student loans, credit cards and payment plans for things like TVs or furniture.

Credit Cards

If you have a credit card it will let you pay for things even if you don’t actually have that money in your bank money. Then you get a bill at the end of the month for the total amount of money you charged to your credit card. The longer you take to pay back your bill the more interest you have to pay as well. Interest often sounds like it won’t be very much but it all adds up and pretty much you’re paying money and getting nothing.
Banks often target young people with offers of credit cards but a lot of the time getting a credit card is a bad idea. A lot of people get stuck in a debt trap they can’t get out of.
Having said that, if you’re committed to making your payments on time credit cards can be good for paying bills or for other things online. Just always read the conditions really well before you sign up. Also, some banks now offer debit cards which you can use everywhere credit cards are accepted but you only use money you actually have in your bank.

Default Notice

If you fail to pay back your loans the lender must give you 30 days to fix it. They will give you what’s called a default notice. If this happens you should contact the lender immediately to see if they will allow you to work out an alternative payment plan. If you still fail to pay it off they will probably take legal action and may repossess the item. If this happens seek legal advice:
Legal Aid WA – 1300 650 579
Youth Legal Service- 9202 1688