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If you end up running out of money every month, putting essentials on your credit card, or using online ‘buy now, pay later’ services just before pay day, you’re not alone. The Reserve Bank says we’re now spending 55 percent more with companies like Afterpay, Zip Pay and Klarna, and this trend looks likely to rise.

If you’re looking to break the pay-day cycle, you might benefit from Saver Plus – a free 10-month program that can help eligible parents, carers and students build budgeting skills, get ahead financially and realise their saving goals.

As a mum of three children, Charlene knows what it’s like to juggle everyday expenses and other financial pressures, all while trying to save. “It can get really hard at times… especially factoring in day-care costs, school fees and living expenses,” she says. “I really wanted to design a fun family budget so that we could still enjoy activities and outings, as well as save.”

Saver Plus assists families to gain financial skills and develop long-term saving habits. As an incentive, participants receive up to $500.00 in matched savings from ANZ when they complete the program which can be used for educational costs for them or their children, such as computers and tablets, textbooks and uniforms.

Through Saver Plus, Charlene had support from a skilled coordinator and attended financial management workshops to share ideas and learn strategies for budgeting and planning for the future. “The first really helpful tool I got given was the budgeting spreadsheet. I immediately felt like, ‘Wow, this is a gamechanger’. I used to get a shock when the $700.00 car rego bill would arrive. Now I split the bill up over 12 months, so it only costs me $20.00 a week instead.

“The other thing that I really found beneficial was learning about superannuation, which I had very little knowledge about beforehand.”

Buoyed by the program, Charlene was recently able to achieve a memorable financial goal: becoming a home-owner. “To finally get the keys was amazing. I couldn’t be happier! The program made me try harder to get the house. Now that I’ve kicked this goal, I’m thinking about the next one.”

Charlene’s message to others in the community thinking about signing up for SaverPlus is simple: “go for it!”.

Saver Plus is an initiative of Brotherhood of St Laurence and ANZ, delivered in partnership with The Smith Family and other local community organisations. It is funded by the Australian Department of Social Services and ANZ. To learn more about Saver Plus and check if you’re eligible, visit http://www.saverplus.org.au