Family faces ruin after racking up $380,000 in debt

By Allison Hess, Carmen Hall -
Money seems less real now we live in a cashless society, a finance expert says.
Money seems less real now we live in a cashless society, a finance expert says.

A Tauranga family could lose everything after racking up $380,000 in debt.

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin said the couple may need to go to insolvency but "had they sought help much earlier it could have changed the result".

The huge debt was accrued through a mortgage, new vehicle, overseas travel, credit cards and personal debt after acquiring a business.

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"Going into business without experience of running a business and a lack of financial management put the client over the edge. Unfortunately for some people who don't have the experience in business they don't realise that if you have money in the bank, bills need to be paid first and the up and down rides of business fluctuations."

The service was helping 15 per cent more people this year than the same period in 2016, she said and it had put on more staff to assist individuals and families to deal with their financial concerns.

Often people were approved for credit that they could not afford, she said.

"We are finding daily they can't afford the repayments. Generally household incomes have stayed similar but household cost has increased across food, rent and debt."

Rents in the city had climbed and power continued to be a big issue, she said.

"People can't afford a large monthly payment but they can pay an equal amount weekly if it is budgeted," she said, while "payday lending appears out of control".

G3 Financial Freedom financial planner Sharlene Overell said it was too easy to get credit.

"It's accessibility, you can get debt and finance very easily and borrow multiple times of your income. People forget the debt and they take on more debt because they want to grow their wealth but they forget at some point it needs to be repaid."

Living in a cashless society had also taken its toll.

"Money doesn't seem to be realistic because you don't touch it anymore ... nobody carries cash or understands its value."

Growing debt levels were a concern but she hoped education would be the key.

Welcome Bay Community Centre manager Anna Larsen said the number of people seeking assistance had jumped.

Unfortunately some were financially trapped as they simply did not have the income to offset debt and she knew of people holding down multiple jobs for more money.

"You can't budget if there is no money to budget with."

Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust's Jena Young said juggling debt was hard for anyone.

The service Te Tuinga provided was not just helping with budget or debt, it was a holistic approach tackling all issues - though income and money was one of the biggest issues.

She said some of their clients were wage earners, though many were beneficiaries.

"Some were wage earners but circumstances changed, they got ill or a relationship broke down and they've had to seek help.

"If say, your income was $500 a week but something happened and now you're on $300 a week from the government, how are you supposed to pay that debt?"

She said most of the kind of debt they saw was not for luxury items - it was for the necessities like a car to get around or furniture.

Need Help?
Call Tauranga Budget Advisory Service on 578 0969
Visit tgabudget.familybudgeting.org.nz
Financial mentors and budgeters can often find solutions
Financial troubles can cause stress which impacts heavily on the family

By the numbers
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service
2014 - 1700 clients
2015 - 1680 clients
2016 - 1600 clients

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