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Budgeting service offers free support to those facing mounting debt

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

If you’re struggling financially following Christmas and the holiday break, and worried about the impact of the continuing pandemic, reach out for help now - don’t delay.

That’s the message from social services provider Family Works, which is concerned about families struggling with finances without realising that help is available.

Family Works Area Manager Alistair Houston says uncertainty about the future, reduced work hours and job losses due to COVID-19 mean that more people are struggling financially. Add in Christmas spending, increasing reliance on the unregulated ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ segment and problems can quickly escalate.

"Some families have found themselves on lower incomes or are now relying on benefits. They are living hand to mouth. What comes in is going on rent, food and utilities with nothing left over and, in some cases, it’s not enough to cover all their expenses.

"We’ve found many people aren’t aware of all the options available to them or how to navigate financial services, including how to structure debt, what to look out for with buy now, pay later providers, and understanding what benefits they’re entitled to."

Family Works, a not-for-profit, has a team of experienced financial mentors in Central, West and South Auckland providing free advice and coaching to people struggling with money worries.

"Each financial mentor works with a person or family based on their situation and their needs. They are focused on getting them out of a cycle of debt using all the tools at their disposal. The financial mentor can help identify options for getting out of debt, using microfinance, avoiding pitfalls and setting goals for positive living. It’s about creating long term solutions rather than lurching from crisis to crisis," says Houston.

"With the right knowledge and skills, people can escape and remain free of debt."

Houston gives the example of a client who bought a van to help transport her 19-year-old daughter who has significant disabilities. However, she lost her job and was unable to make the payments on the van. Working with Family Works, she was able to apply to the Lottery Grants Board for a specialised disability van, which was successful. This enabled her to sell the old van and pay off the debt.

"You don’t need to wait until your finances are in a desperate state. If you’re struggling now then ask for help now," adds Houston.

With the current red COVID-19 alert level, face-to-face meetings with financial mentors are still possible, however, people can still meet regularly by phone or online through Zoom if they prefer.

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