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Navigating Financial Challenges: A Guide for Provisional Psychologists in Australia



As a provisional psychologist in Australia, one of the hurdles you might be facing is managing financial stress, especially given the costs associated with your internship, supervision fees, mandatory professional development, and everyday living expenses. This blog post aims to provide you with practical advice and tools to help navigate these challenges.


The journey of a provisional psychologist is unique. You're expected to balance a full-time workload with additional studies and professional development, all while often earning a modest wage. Supervision fees and other internship-related expenses can consume a significant portion of your income, making financial management crucial. Wherever possible, I encourage people to find ways to cut back what they are spending as opposed to taking on additional (unrelated) paid work. Ultimately, the longer you remain a provisional psychologist, the longer the financial burden continues.


Given your busy schedule, consider passive income streams that align with your skills and require minimal ongoing effort. For example, participating in online surveys or market research, which offer compensation for minimal time commitment. You may also consider using sites like "Shop Back" to get a financial return on your everyday shopping (this is not a sponsored post). Remember, the goal is to supplement your income without adding to your workload.



Budgeting and Expense Management


Effective budgeting is essential for financial well-being. Thankfully, there are several user-friendly budgeting apps tailored to Australian users. Here are some noteworthy options:

  1. PocketSmith Sidekick: Ideal for managing both Australian and international accounts, it offers features like automatic transaction categorisation and financial forecasting.

  2. Goodbudget: This app uses the envelope budgeting system, helping you allocate funds to various spending categories and track your expenses effectively.

  3. Frollo: Frollo allows you to consolidate accounts from different banks for a comprehensive financial overview.

  4. Up: Coming from an Australian digital bank, Up integrates regular banking features with budgeting tools like auto-savings and purchase round-ups.

  5. Finder App: Beyond budgeting, the Finder App helps you track expenses and find better deals on various services, potentially lowering your monthly bills.

Managing Student Loans and Professional Development Costs


HECS debt can be a significant source of stress. However, this may be something easier to tackle once you don't have all the financial burdens from your internship. To manage the cost of professional development, I always recommend balancing out some quality paid-for training with free or discounted professional development. First, determine what your learning goals are. What do you need to know right now to get you through this early phase of your career, and what are the skills and interventions you can invest in learning in once you are fully qualified? You do not need to have every tool under your belt while you are a provisional psychologist. This is why I personally spent a year developing accessible and essential trainings for early-career psychologists like yourself so that you have the foundational knowkedge you need in your internship. You can check all those trainings out in my Online Training Library. They can be purchased individually, or as part of a bundle for significant savings.


Some ideas for free or low cost trainings include:

  • Mental Health Professionals Network

  • Youtube Demonstration Videos

  • Professional associations often offer free or discounted PD for provisional psychologists

  • Reading textbooks, and yes, even studying for the National Psychology Exam count as professional development hours!


To manage the ongoing cost of supervision, I always strongly suggest people supplement their primary suoervision with group supervision at least monthly. This not only helps you to keep your ratios up but group supervision is usually 50-65% cheaper than an hour of primary supervision!


Keep Your Receipts


An often overlooked aspect of managing your finances as a provisional psychologist is the potential for tax deductions. Almost everything related to your work or internship, including supervision fees and professional development costs, can be tax-deductible. Yes, this includes courses like my National Psychology Exam (NPE) preparation course as well!

While these deductions don't eliminate the initial costs, they can significantly reduce your taxable income, potentially leading to a substantial tax return at the end of the financial year. This means you could see some of your investment returned, easing the overall financial burden.


I must emphasise that I am not a tax expert, so for the best results, I highly recommend investing in the services of a knowledgeable accountant. They can provide tailored advice and ensure you're making the most of your eligible deductions. Proper record-keeping is essential, so make sure to maintain clear and organised records of all your work-related expenses throughout the year.

Leveraging Community and Professional Networks


Don't overlook the power of community. Join networks for provisional psychologists, where members often share resources, tips, and opportunities for group supervision, which can be more affordable. These networks can also be a source of moral support, helping you navigate not just financial challenges, but also the emotional and professional hurdles of your early career.


I host a wonderful online community for early-career psychologists that is safe, supportive, and most importantly accessible. I offer a variety of mini-trainings, clinical resources, NPE preparation support, and have just launched a video podcast series exclusivde to that platform. Most of my content can be counted as professional development and you can access all this for only $3.75 per week. I have kept it incredibly low cost because I am committed to making quality trainining, and support, accessible to provisional and early-career psychologists. You can apply to join here.


Conclusion


As a provisional psychologist, managing your finances effectively is important for your mental health. It is an incredibly stressful time and I hope that by using and implementing some of the tips in this article, you can navigate these early career challenges more confidently. Remember, this phase of financial tightness is temporary. While it can be overwhelming and daunting, I want to remind you that it often gets easier post-registration.

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