Wednesday, 14 May 2014

2014 National Budget: A stay at home mum's view

Last night I watched 'Budget Night' on television with my husband. We also sat and watched some of the outraged and critical commentary by Labour and others after the Treasurer had finished his speech. The government plans to make cuts to spending left, right and centre, and increase some taxes. It seems that everyone is effected to some degree or other by the planned changes; students, parents, pensioners, unemployed persons and the list goes on. It also seems that almost everyone is angry about these proposed changes, claiming that the government is stealing their money or making life difficult for them. I can understand the sentiment, but I think that we need to look a little deeper at the issue and think about the broader picture.

My husband and I are in the income bracket that is considered the one which will suffer the most from the proposed changes to the Budget, but as we sat and watched the budget, we could not help but feel that we will not really be effected so very much at all. Of course, we will have to deal with the increase in fuel prices, pay the $7 doctors fee, and should my husband (may God forbid) lose his job, we would be a bit tight until he could find more work. But the proposed changes to the welfare system, especially the changes to the family tax benefit part B make so much sense. I never could understand why the government provides an income supplement to people earning over $100,000 anyway. What on earth are they doing with all that money that they actually NEED to be given more?

The truth is that the government is simply not a bottomless pit full of money to be given to every good and worthwhile venture. In this age of credit cards, I think people have forgotten to live within their means and I applaud the government for making an attempt to reduce national debt and once again spend within their limits. That doesn't mean I like every aspect of the new budget, indeed, I would like to see politicians take a wage cut and big business carry a little more of the burden, I would love gambling, alcohol and cigarettes to be taxed through the roof, as well as many other changes, but I do think it is good to reduce debt. It's not very nice to be a part of the debt solution in our country, but again, there really are no other options. It is time for everyone to make an effort to live within their means, however meagre they may be.

We are a single income family earning well below $100,000 a year, yet we do not have any personal debt, and we do not even need the family income supplements that we receive. We have a baby and we save a considerable sum of money each month. "You aren't paying off a mortgage though," someone might say. True. We are renting, but I imagine our rent payments are not that much less than we would be contributing to a mortgage. It comes down to your perspective on life and personal finances. We believe in living within our means. OUR means. Not what we have plus what we expect to get from the government. For us, those family tax benefits are a lovely little bonus that we are happy to accept while they last. Perhaps we will put that money away for our children's education, or some rainy day expense (like bad health or my husband losing his job). That means we don't buy a car on finance, don't use the credit card and don't go crazy with technology, baby products or other comfort and luxury items. My life is still great without the iPhone 5, new shoes that I'll only wear once in a blue moon and whatever else it is that people spend all their money on.

We have truly lived in an age of entitlement as the Treasurer states. We have been entitled to numerous payments and supplements, virtually free health care, unemployment benefits and much more. Maybe it's time we took a little more responsibility for our own finances instead of expecting the government to cover all the gaps our financial mismanagement has created. Perhaps we should be more willing to care for our elderly parents and content to send our children to schools that do not cost over $10,000 a year. Perhaps we should be happy with a little less and understand that the government shouldn't have to help us unless we are absolutely incapable of helping ourselves. How many other countries have as many welfare options as we do? Almost none. We are and have been very lucky in Australia. Let's be thankful for the support we had while it lasted and get down to the job of living within our means, whatever they may be.

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