Saver Plus helps families like Krystle’s tackle school IT costs
19 January 2017
Krystle McKinley from the Gold Coast in Queensland has three children in school this year, and her eldest daughter is set to start high school.
“Her high school has a ‘bring your own device’ system. Without a laptop she wouldn’t be able to complete assignments or sit exams. Even my younger children need access to a computer and the internet to do homework,” she said.
Krystle joined Saver Plus last year, a program we run with ANZ. Participants set a savings goal for school costs, make regular deposits into a savings account over 10 months, and attend financial educations workshops. At the end of the program their savings are matched by ANZ, dollar for dollar, up to $500. Krystle will spend her savings on IT and other school expenses.
Indeed in the past five years, Saver Plus has seen a marked rise in participants using their matched savings for technology. From 2012 to 2016 the number of claims for digital devices – such as a laptops or tablets - has increased from 37 per cent to 52 per cent. That’s far more than claims for the next most popular categories ¬- uniforms and shoes at 22 per cent, lesson fees and equipment at 16 per cent and books at just nine per cent.
Brotherhood Executive Director Tony Nicholson says it’s common to see laptops and tablets on the stationery list as schools adapt to the digital age.
“This can put pressure on lower-income families, who before school even starts find themselves spending hundreds of dollars so their children have the technology needed for their studies. Saver Plus helps families save for those costs and reduce the pressure on household budgets,” he said.
Since 2003 more than 32,000 people have saved with Saver Plus. Independent research by RMIT University found that three years after completing Saver Plus 87 per cent of participants continued to save. Participants also reported having more control over their finances and improved wellbeing.
ANZ Group Executive Australia Fred Ohlsson says ANZ is proud to be assisting thousands of lower- income Australians to achieve long term financial stability.
“Saver Plus helps participants develop financial literacy skills, establish a savings habit and strengthen confidence to access mainstream affordable financial services. This contributes to financial stability for their families, an asset with benefits that go well beyond back-to-school time,” he said.
Saver Plus is delivered in 60 communities across Australia. Participants must have a Centrelink healthcare or pensioner concession card, a child at school or be attending vocational education themselves, and regular household income from paid employment.
Krystle recommends Saver Plus to anyone, even those who don’t think they can save.
“I’d be really stuck if I didn’t have the money skills I learnt through Saver Plus. Budgeting and changing little things, like buying groceries on sale and buying in bulk, has all added up,” she said.
“As little as $12.50 a week adds up really quick, and you don’t even notice it’s missing.”
Saver Plus is an initiative of Brotherhood of St Laurence and ANZ, delivered in partnership with Berry Street, The Benevolent Society and The Smith Family and other local community agencies. The Program is funded by ANZ and the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Go to www.dss.gov.au for more information.