Childcare fees are back – tips to keep costs down

Childcare fees are back – tips to keep costs down

Any parent can tell you that one of the most expensive parts of having children is the childcare fees you pay in their early lives.

After more than three months of not paying a cent for childcare, thanks to relief offered by the Australian government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, families will start paying fees again this week.

But there is still assistance available that can offer a helping hand, and steps you can take now that may save you hundreds of dollars.

Government offering a lifeline

The Australian government does provide financial assistance by offering childcare cost subsidies.

From Monday, families are back to the old subsidy system, but this now has updated income thresholds.

If your family earns $189,390 or less, you won’t have an annual cap on your subsidy. Further, if your family earns between $189,390 and $353,680, they’ll cap your subsidy at $10,560 per child each financial year.

Childcare subsidy thresholds:

Your family income Childcare subsidy percentage
$0 to $69,390 85%
More than $69,390 to below $174,390 Between 85% and 50%

The percentage goes down by 1% for every $3,000 of income your family earns

$174,390 to below $253,680 50%
$253,680 to below $343,680 Between 50% and 20%

The percentage goes down by 1% for every $3,000 of income your family earns

$343,680 to below $353,680 20%
$353,680 or more 0%

Source: Services Australia.

To be eligible for this you must:

  • Care for a child 13 or younger who's not attending secondary school, unless an exemption applies;
  • Use an approved childcare service;
  • Be responsible for paying the childcare fees; and
  • Meet residency and immunisation requirements.

What the government is offering families doing it tough

While relief on childcare costs may be over, the impacts of COVID-19 are still being felt by millions of households.

For those doing it tough, the government is easing the work activity test for its childcare subsidy to help people who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. These families will receive up to 100 hours of care that will be subsidised for up to 12 weeks.

This may potentially mean all their fees are paid, even at a more expensive centre.

If you believe your family would qualify for this assistance, ensure your details are up to date on the MyGov website.

For postcodes that have been heavily impacted this year, whether by lockdown or bushfires, the government is also providing an additional childcare subsidy. It will cover 13 weeks of childcare fees. You will need to apply through Services Australia

Don’t qualify for hardship but can’t afford childcare fees - what now?

If you’re in the awkward position of struggling financially to afford costly childcare fees, but unable to qualify for hardship support, don’t panic. There are still things you can do.

  1. Speak out. It’s worth talking to your childcare centre about any financial problems you’re facing. While it can be embarrassing, it’s still an important conversation to have. The childcare centre may offer solutions you’re unaware of.
  2. Shorter days. Some childcare centres may offer shorter days at a reduced cost. Childcare centres have said they are worried about their roll plummeting, so may be able to reduce fees as an incentive to keep families.
  3. Update your budget. If you haven’t already, now is an ideal time to consider updating your family budget to try and free up some cash. There are plenty of budget templates available on Pinterest, as well as budgeting websites, that may help.
  4. Negotiate your home loan rate. If you’re paying off a home loan, call your bank and try to negotiate a better rate. Banks typically offer more competitive rates to new customers to incentivise them joining with your bank. Hop online and find out what rates they’re offering new customers, then call your bank and request a lower rate. or consider going onto a lower fixed rate, if that works for you.
  5. Switch to a lower rate home loan. If talking your way to a lower rate doesn’t work, you may want to consider switching to a lower-rate home loan. With interest rates at record lows, there’s hundreds of dollars in repayment savings up for grabs for borrowers willing to shop around for better deals.
  6. Sell some belongings. Consider finding some belongings you don’t need and selling them for some extra cash. It’s school holidays, so many parents will be looking for new toys and sporting equipment to help them entertain their kids. Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree are great platforms to help you sell your items.

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Learn more about bank accounts

How do you open a bank account in Australia?

Opening a bank account in Australia is usually a straightforward process. Some banks give you the option of opening an account online, while others require you to visit a branch.

Different bank accounts offer different features, so it’s best to compare your options to find one that suits you.

All banks require you to pass an identity check to open a bank account. Australia uses the 100-point identification system, which means you’ll need to show a number of forms of ID that, together, add up to 100 points.

Common ID types include a driver’s licence, passport, Australian visa in a foreign passport, and Australian Medicare card. You’ll find out what types of ID are accepted when you go through the sign-up process online or at a branch.

Once your account is open, you’ll be given or sent a debit card that you can use to make purchases and withdraw money from your account.

Are bank accounts frozen when someone dies?

Yes, Australian bank accounts are frozen when someone dies. If you want to close the account of somebody who has died, you might have to provide proof of death and a copy of the will. You might also have to prove your relationship to the deceased person.

If you have a joint bank account with somebody who has died, you will generally be entitled to all the money in the account. Again, you might have to provide proof of death if you want to change the bank account from a joint account to a one-person account.

Can I start a bank account online?

Yes, most lenders that operate in Australia will let you set up a bank account online. The process is usually simple and takes five to 10 minutes. You will probably need to provide a passport or birth certificate, as well as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or another form of secondary identification. Requirements differ from lender to lender, so some institutions might ask for more or different forms of ID.

Can you deposit money into somebody else's bank account?

One of the easiest banking tasks in the world is depositing money. You can even deposit money into someone else’s bank account if you wish.

The basic information you need to deposit money into a third-party bank account is:

  • Payee’s name
  • Bank, building society or credit union (though this isn’t necessary)
  • BSB (or bank code, which is the branch identifier)
  • Account number

Including the name of the financial institution isn’t necessary – particularly with online banking – because the BSB will identify this for you.

A handy tip is to record yourself (or add a personal message) in the transaction description or reference. This will show up on the recipients account, letting them know who’s paid them the money.

Opening a bank account for someone under 18

How can I close a Commonwealth Bank account?

You can close your Commonwealth Bank account at any branch, provided you have appropriate identification. You can also close your account over the phone, by calling 132 221, 24 hours a day.

Can foreigners open bank account in Australia?

If you’re migrating, studying or working in Australia, you’ll be pleased to know that you can open an Australian bank account. For the most part, opening a bank account in Australia is a simple process which starts by comparing the types of bank accounts foreigners can open in Australia.

Once you’ve found a bank account that suits your needs, you can start the application process.

When you apply for the account, you’ll need to provide proof of ID which may include your passport, overseas ID or credit card. You may also need to provide a copy of your visa and proof of address in Australia.

Depending on the bank and the type of account you choose, you may be able to apply for the account online or over the phone before you arrive in Australia.

How do I close my bank account online?

You can usually easily open a bank account online, but you often can’t close it online.

Many banks and credit unions will only let you close an account if you go into a branch or call them on the phone.

However, some banks will let you request to close the account via your internet banking. Check your financial provider’s website for details.

Just remember: If you still have funds in the bank account, transfer them to another account, or withdraw the cash. Also, if you have any payments like direct debits going in or out of the bank account, these will also stop when you close your account.

What do I need to open bank accounts online?

Opening a bank account online is a simple process and only takes between five to 10 minutes to complete. To get started you will need a computer or smartphone with internet access.

Information to have available when you’re ready to apply is:

  • Identification (such as driver’s licence, birth certificate, passport, proof-of-age card)
  • Tax file number
  • Residential address, email and a contact number

In some cases, you might be asked to provide employment details. If you’re not able to verify your identity online, most financial institutions let you provide this in the branch at a later date.

There are some types of bank account that you can apply for only in a branch. However, most bank accounts can be applied for conveniently online.

How do I overdraw my Commonwealth Bank account?

Overdrawing a bank account can happen by accident. It’s often hard to know what your balance is, particularly with direct debits, scheduled repayments and pending transactions competing for cash.

To avoid being stuck with a bank fee every time your account is overdrawn, you can apply for a personal overdraft. This will enable you to overdraw your account up to an approved amount.

A personal overdraft is connected to your CommBank Everyday Account, so you can enjoy easy access to extra funds once approved – anywhere from $100 up to $20,000.

Your overdraft funds can be accessed via your CommBank keycard or Debit MasterCard, or online through NetBank and the CommBank app.

To apply you can either call the Commonwealth Bank directly or visit your local branch.

How do you deposit change into your bank account?

One way to deposit change into your bank account is to visit a branch. Many lenders will also allow you to deposit your change through one of their ATMs.

Can you open a bank account at 16?

Yes, you can open a bank account at 16, or even younger. If you’re 13 or under, you will probably need a parent to accompany you to a branch.

How do you find a bank account number by name?

For privacy reasons, Australian banks won’t hand out account numbers or other details about their customers. However, if you provide a bank with a BSB and account number, they should be able to confirm if those numbers belong to one of their customers.

How do you change your account name on NAB banking?

Changing the name on your NAB bank account is straightforward, as long as you have the right documents.

If you’ve just got married, divorced or legally changed your name, here’s what you need:

  • Married – a marriage certificate
  • Divorced –your ‘decree nisi’
  • Legal name change –your legal name change certificate

You can take either the original document, or a certified copy, into a NAB branch, where it needs to be sighted by a bank employee and a copy taken.

Your NAB bank account name will be updated immediately. New debit, ATM and credit cards with your updated name will also need to be issued. These usually take between five to 10 working days to be posted out to you. Your existing cards will keep working until you activate your new ones.

If you haven’t legally changed your name, but just want to change your account nicknames, you can log onto NAB and do it through the Settings/Mailbox menu.