Living on a low income

Living on a low income can have a significant impact on an individual's social, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Foundation Housing tenants and residents engaged with financial support providers across Perth and co-designed budget-friendly activities and ways to save money.

Click the icons below for advice directly from tenants on how to start making positive financial changes in your life.


Hardship Utilities Grants (HUGS) (via Department of Communities) assists Western Australian utility customers who are in financial hardship and are unable to pay their utility bills. The purpose of HUGS is to assist customers in financial hardship with their connection to essential services.

  • Payment arranged via a 90-day plan.
  • If you live South of the 26th parallel (south of Denham), you may be eligible for up to $580 per financial year.
  • If you live North of the 26th parallel (north of and including Denham), you may be eligible for up to $960 per financial year.

No interest loans (NILS) up to $5000.

  • You don’t have to be on Centrelink to access.
  • Loans available for furniture, appliances, essential dental/medical care, car purchase and repairs and other essential items.
  • Is paid back over 18 months.

You may be eligible to receive the Family Tax Benefit as an advance loan in 2 x $500 instalments to stretch money over the year.

Utilities and Bills

  • Pay bills fortnightly to avoid debt and rental arrears. Having a calendar with due dates can allow you to plan ahead.
  • Centrepay offer extended payment plans.
  • Alinta and the Water Corporation offer ‘bill smoothing’ payment plans over 12 or 26 months instead of lump sums.
  • Car registration can now be paid in monthly instalments with the Department of Transport.
  • Install turf grass to save on watering costs.


Good Shepherd Australia offers insurance programs working with Australia’s largest insurance companies to create affordable and simple insurance policies for people on low incomes.

You can get ambulance insurance cover for approximately $60 annually with majority of health funds (cheaper than a $1000 ambulance trip). You can purchase ambulance cover on its own without any other cover.


Community legal centres primarily target their services for people who are ineligible for legal aid and who are unable to afford the services of a private lawyer. Access a local Community Legal Centre to advocate for help with:

  • information and advice;
  • referrals;
  • casework and minor assistance;
  • representation and advocacy;
  • duty lawyer services;
  • community legal education;
  • non-legal support;
  • policy law and reform.

Each community legal centre may offer different services, depending on the needs of their community.

Emergency Relief and Support

Food relief, health support and laundry services at Moore Street (Perth) on weeknights from 4.30pm to 8.30pm and on Sunday mornings from 8.00am to 11.30am.

Broken Crayon Still Colour Foundation is a foundation led by real life survivors, women and men who have lived and experienced domestic /and or family violence. They offer:

  • Relocation and safety plans
  • Housewares, clothing and footwear
  • School supplies
  • Food hampers and meal prep
  • Counseling
  • Document assistance
  • Court support and advocacy

The Salvation Army provides all social services including financial assistance, family violence support, alcohol and drug services, employment services and more.

Communicare provide emergency relief and other social services. View their location closest to you here.

Oz Harvest provide free and cheap rescued food for those who need a helping hand up.

RUAH Community Services provide vouchers for food, prescriptions and other essential items. They also have a valuable resources guide for those living on a low income.

Margaret Court Community Outreach provide emergency food hampers, basic clothing and care support.

The Saver Plus program by the Smith Family is Australia’s longest running financial education and matched savings program. Build financial skills, develop life-long savings habits, and receive up to $500 to assist with education costs.

Free Meals


Kidsport WA enables eligible children aged 5 to 18 to participate in community sport and recreation by offering them financial assistance towards club registration fees. Get a $150 voucher for the sport of your choice.

Good communication and conversations around saving money. Make kids and others in house aware of the costs of living and engage them in strategies and share the responsibility of reducing costs. i.e., shorter showers, less time online/using devices.


Volunteer at Salvation Army and get 50% off clothing, books and other items.

Foundation Housing partners with Thread Together to provide brand-new clothing donations to tenants and residents. Contact Maureen on 0400 656 005 or at to learn about how you can get receive donations from Thread Together.

Security and Scams

Here are three simple ways you can avoid common scams:

  1. Put a lock on your letterbox.
  2. Send items to a local post office instead of a home address.
  3. Use different drop points when receiving parcels.

Economical Shopping

  • Costco is great for bulk food shopping. Join with other families or split up with others. They also offer cheap fuel.
  • Good Sammy and St Vinnies have affordable clothing and household items.
  • ALDI and the Reject Shop offer cheap bathroom and laundry products.
  • MeatsNoranda Meats offer weekly meat packs for $80. Beef Shed Malaga also offer weekly specials every Tuesday.
  • Check supermarket catalogues for cheap buys.
  • Plan ahead to save money. Always have a shopping list and do meal planning to avoid overspending or buying unnecessary items.
  • Meal prep and buy cheap food in bulk and freezing for later.

Cars and Transport

Keep petrol tank topped up (never under half full) and always buy on cheap fuel days:

  • Petrol Spy Australia shows real-time fuel pricing for WA and compares petrol prices by postcode/suburb.
  • 7/11 App allows you yo lock the cheapest price of fuel for 2 weeks.

Banking and Money Tips

Here are some financial tips to help you manage your money:

  • Avoid credit cards.
  • Use cash rather than debit cards if you spend easily.
  • Track your expenses using your bank’s money tracker.
  • Visit your local bank branch and ask for better or lower fees.
  • P&N cut all fees if you have demonstrated stable Centrelink income.
  • Get support from a financial counsellor such as Midlas, the Spiers Centre or UnitingWA.


Get involved in a ‘side hustle’ to increase your income:


  • ‘Buy Nothing’ groups on Facebook include donations from residents in your local area. Search for a Buy Nothing group on Facebook in your area (you have to live in a 5km radius of the group).
  • Visit ‘Ask Izzy’ to learn about where you can access food and accommodation and other support in your area.
  • WAConnect is a directory of community service providers managed by the
    DropIN team at the Western Australian Council of Social Service. It contains real time search results of emergency relief services, with phone numbers, operating hours, and directions on the services available.
  • Visit The Pantry provide food relief to those in the community who are experiencing challenging times – men and women singles and families, students, grandparents and more.


Homeless Healthcare are an important resource for homeless and marginalised people. They provide a place where they can socialise, shower, get social assistance and have something to eat and drink.