'May you live in interesting times.' This ambiguous blessing certainly applies to the past three years of bushfires, pandemic, and war. While things are beginning to settle, many of us are seeing the results of previous uncertainty as a hit to our bank accounts.
We provide the following suggestions for those struggling with the cost of living increases.
1. Ask for a cost of living pay raise
Unfortunately, Australian employers typically have no legal obligation to increase wages in line with CPI increases. There are some exceptions for agreements under an employment contract or enterprise agreement, so it's wise to read carefully through your employment contract. You should also check any payroll policies within your workplace - you may be entitled to a raise when certain performance conditions are met.
If none of the above applies to you, you may have to negotiate your own. Fortunately, with current labour shortages and record employment, the average employee is well placed to advocate for themselves.
When asking for a pay raise, it's vital that you go in prepared. Do your research so that you know how much to ask for and write up a list of all the ways you've supported the company through the difficulties of the past few years.
You should also know what you will do if the answer is no. Will you be satisfied with a non-monetary benefit like extra holiday days or work from home arrangements? Are you prepared to hand in your resignation if it's a hard no? You will need to have answers to these questions before you try your luck.
2. Find lost money
Moneysmart contains details of unclaimed money from bank accounts and life insurance policies. Both accounts become 'unclaimed' if they are inactive - i.e. no deposits or withdrawals - for seven years. The Moneysmart website also has a simple search bar method.
Finally, the Australia Taxation Office can help you find unclaimed superannuation. You will require a MyGov account that is linked to ATO. Once you have set this up, you can use the Super tab in the ATO section of MyGov to find lost super or consolidate your accounts.
3. Transport subsidies
If you have a disability, you may be eligible for a Taxi Subsidy Scheme membership, which will cover half of your taxi fare, up to $60. Brisbane City Council also offers their free Council Cab service for people who have a disability or are over the age of 60.
And parents who travel far to take their children to school should check out the School Transport Assistance scheme, which can cover the cost of private transport costs for eligible applicants.
4. Free and cheap groceries
Save a few dollars by getting your groceries cut price and even free.
There are cheap grocers to discover north and south of the Brisbane River. And when it comes to fruit and veg, you can score yours free and legally through community gardens, verge gardens, public fruit trees and more.
You may be able to decrease your regular expenses by replacing a paid service for one of the many free activities that Brisbane has to offer, such as:
* ditching your gym membership for al fresco exercise station and Brisbane City Council sponsored programs
This is just a small sample of freebies on offer - if you know any others, please share them in the comments below!