Struggling financially? This free government service may be able to help

The service is totally free of charge. Source: Getty.

When it comes to matters of finance, many Australians could do with a helping hand or simply a nudge in the right direction and choosing a financial advisor, especially if it’s not necessary, can be tricky and often costly.

However many people are unaware that the government actually offers a financial information and support service which can be accessed completely free of charge and deals with everything from salary queries to questions about superannuation and selecting appropriate financial products.

The Financial Information Service, which is totally independent and confidential, is managed by the Department of Human Services and can be accessed by any adult Australian either in person or over the phone.

So, if you find yourself in need of some help understanding your cash woes, it could pay to drop them a line.

How can they help?

The service is designed to help Aussies with all personal financial matters, from queries about investments and superannuation to credit and managing your savings.

According to the department’s website, the service can work with you to explain; the risk of certain financial products, the roles of financial professionals (such as financial advisors) and the benefit of reducing debt. They can also work with you to discuss how you can increase your overall retirement income.

Meanwhile, they can help you to make better informed financial decisions, understand the results of your decisions in the short and long term, prepare for retirement and take control of your finances to improved your overall lifestyle.

Read more: ‘I moved from disability to the Age Pension and my payments dropped! What happened?’

What can’t they discuss?

While the dedicated government officers can explain a plethora of different products and the potential benefits and risks to you, it is important to note that they are not financial planners or professional counsellors, this means that they cannot sell or give advice to you.

They also cannot prepare financial plans or tax returns, recommend investments or suggest how you should invest your money, buy investment products on your behalf or recommend financial advisors.

For older Australians, it is also worth remembering that, while they can explain the system to you and answer questions you might have, they cannot make decisions for you when it comes to your Age Pension.

If the service cannot satisfy your needs and you do need to employ the services of a financial advisor, the government’s MoneySmart website has some useful information.

How does the service work?

The service is free and available to everyone, with appointments available either over the phone or face to face.

If you wish, you can also take someone with you to your appointment or, should the need arise, nominate someone to speak on your behalf. However to do so you must make an official nominee arrangement through Centrelink.

If you’d prefer not to make an appointment though, or perhaps are looking for some more generic information, you can also attend one of the service’s free seminars which are held in each state and territory.

To find out more, visit the Department of Human Services’ website by clicking here.

Were you aware that this service existed? Is it something you would make use of, should the need arise?

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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