Are you a Veteran, recent or long-term, that is struggling with how to budget your DVA pension to the best effect? At National Service Financial, we understand how difficult this balancing act can be.
As specialist financial advisors that work almost exclusively with Veterans and ADF members, we offer tailored financial support designed to help you thrive on a DVA pension. In this guide, we’ll talk you through the importance of creating a winning budget and how to go about doing exactly that.
Why Budgeting Matters
If you’ve never budgeted before, learning how to do so, or wondering why it matters so much can be a challenge. The reality is that even if you are not on a pension, a budget is always a good idea. Why? Because without a budget in place, it is easy to overspend or be underprepared to pay for necessary expenses such as bills.
We get it, the word budget is often negatively (and unfairly) associated with money troubles or being ‘cheap’. However, budgeting doesn’t have to mean going without. In fact, preparing a good budget and sticking to it can make your money go further and help you create financial stability both now and in the future.
For Veterans, budgeting ensures you can minimise the stressors associated with a reduced income following your discharge from the ADF. So rather than avoiding making a budget, let’s look at how to do this effectively so you can stop worrying about your bank balance.
Creating A Budget For Your DVA Pension
Every good budget follows the same basic steps. Using how often you are paid as a timeframe you can prepare a weekly, fortnightly or monthly budget. You should then:
Record your income
List how much you receive from your DVA pension and any other sources of income such as dividends, household income, superannuation or any government benefits.
Where an income amount is variable such as a partner working a casual role that fluctuates, we suggest estimating the average based on three months’ income. Using the average, you can then work it into your budget as a general guide.
List Your Expenses
This step can be a little confronting or uncomfortable, but you need to be very honest about your expenses. Don’t skip listing anything, even the smallest amounts add up over time and can throw your budget out. Your expenses will fall under three main categories:
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Utilities such as gas, water and electricity
- Council rates (if you’re a homeowner)
- Phone bills
- Household expenses including groceries and streaming subscriptions
- Health insurance and medical costs (these may be covered or offset for Veterans)
- Transport costs whether public transport or costs for maintaining your own vehicle (fuel, insurance, registration)
- Family expenses such as gifts, childcare, education costs and extra-curricular activity fees
- Mortgage repayments
- Car repayments
- Loans (personal or business)
- Credit card repayments
- Car repairs
- Vet bills
- Medical bills (may not apply for Veterans depending on your DVA claims status)
One of the best ways to assess and not miss any of your regular expenses during this step is to refer back to your bank statements or bill history. With each expense, you should also make note of how much it is on average each time you pay it and when you usually pay it (weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, annually)
Set A Spending Limit
Whatever funds are left over after paying your expenses are for saving or spending. Your spending budget will cover a mix of expenses including entertainment (movies/concerts), any hobbies, takeaways or dinners out etc.
Keep in mind when setting this limit that a portion should go towards your savings.
You may like to set this savings goal before you set a spending limit as one will impact the other quite a bit. Whether you want to save for a holiday, a new car, state of the art tv or anything else, having a budget can help you achieve this without going into debt.
While setting a savings goal can feel like sacrificing your spending freedom it also helps to prepare for unexpected expenses. Additionally, having a safety net for sudden expenses can go a long way towards reducing financial anxiety.
Adjust Your Budget Over Time
Just like most things in life, your expenses can change. It is important to review your budget frequently to ensure it is still accounting for your major financial commitments. This will also mean any changes in your DVA pension are not missed.
Things such as rate increases on your home loan and increases in the costs of utilities, fuel, education and more can all mean a readjustment is needed. A readjustment could see you have less to spend or save but ensures you can pay your bills and not go into unwanted debt.
For Veterans, you may also need to factor in any tax obligations linked with your DVA pension. Not all DVA payouts are taxable, so it is best to review this and accommodate any tax obligations into your expenses so you do not receive a large tax bill at the close of the financial year.
Make Budgeting Easier For Yourself
No matter how great your budget is, if you do not put specific actions in place to properly follow it, it’s unlikely to work. Some great, tangible ways to make actioning your DVA pension budget easier include:
Creating multiple bank accounts. Set up one for spending, one for saving (a high-interest account is ideal) and one for bills and expenses. This makes it easier to divide your pension and stops you from accidentally spending money your budget doesn’t allow for.
Set up direct debits for bills. Create multiple direct debits from your bills account either for lump sum payments on their due dates or for small weekly amounts. You can determine the weekly amounts by dividing your usual annual bill into 52. This also helps to reduce bill shock or missed bill payments which can incur penalties.
Clear your debts first. Should you have any personal debts such as a car or personal loan or credit card debt, we recommend prioritising paying these down as quickly as possible. One way to do this is to boost loan repayments by maximising your savings.
While this may seem counterintuitive, debts grow over time due to interest levied, so the quicker they are resolved, the faster you can build genuine savings. Trust us when we say that even while receiving a DVA pension, with an effective budget in place you can clear your debts and achieve your savings goals.
Finding Extra Funds
As part of your DVA pension budgeting process, we recommend an annual review of your utility and insurance providers. Using comparison websites or simply through your own research, you may discover less expensive options that give you more room in your budget for spending and saving.
A review of your mortgage provider is also a good idea to ensure you are being offered the best possible rate. At National Service Financial, our team are accredited DHOAS mortgage brokers and can happily assist with this process.
Speak With A Professional
One of the best ways to make your DVA pension work harder for you and to support better budgeting is to speak with a financial planner. Financial planners excel at finding extra funds in your budget and ensuring no stone is left unturned.
A companion to a great budget, a financial plan maps out a longer-term plan and helps you to craft a budget that supports the goals and expectations set out in the plan. A financial planner also offers insights into the best way to grow your money through investments and leveraging your assets to the best effect.
As a Veteran, the ADF offers subsidised financial advice to give you the best possible chance at creating the financial future you desire. While they do not recommend specific advisors or planners, they simply require that they be FASEA-qualified.
Where To Find Support
At National Service Financial, we specialise in helping Veterans with their financial planning and budgeting for financial security and success. Owned and operated by a former ADF member, we offer a unique, tailored service paired with genuine care and support for Veterans.
Our in-depth understanding of DVA pensions means we are best positioned to assist Veterans and are able to advise regarding other possible entitlements, associated tax obligations and more.
We can assist with:
Short and long-term financial planning
- Budgeting a DVA pension
- Helping you set and achieve financial goals
- Understanding and meeting your tax obligations (if applicable)
- DHOAS loans where applicable, we are also authorised DHOAS mortgage brokers
We can also assist with managing the financial implications of ADF transition and medical discharge. Whether you are receiving an incapacity payment, Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP), permanent impairment payment or any other form of DVA pension/compensation, we are here to help you.
Avoid the stress and worry that so often comes with living on a DVA pension and speak with a professional team that cares. Take charge of your finances, contact National Service Financial today at 1300 580 802 and book your financial discovery appointment.