The cost of living has forced many pensioners to go to considerable lengths to make their superannuation benefit stretch.

Hastings superannuitant Ernest Seadon says he is having to work to supplement his benefit.

"It is not easy for some of us. I am having to work one day a week just to make ends meet."

The 71-year-old receives $623.98 a fortnight, while his wife receives $475.06 a fortnight, equating to $1099.04 a fortnight and $549.52 a week for the two of them.


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"Out of that we have got our rent which is $200 a week; so nearly half our benefit is just on rent before you go to things like electricity, food, phone bill, contents insurance etc."

On top of that they have to pay about $200 a fortnight for medical bills due to his numerous health issues, including being a diabetic and having had up to 15 operations.

"We rarely drink — in fact I don't have any booze in the house — and neither of us smoke so we are not wasting our money, and the cost of groceries is quite high," the 71-year-old said.

Budget First Hastings co-ordinator and budget adviser Kristal Leach said although the bulk of the service's clients were aged 29 to 49, about 5 per cent were 65 and older.

She said the reason they saw pensioners was because they were renting and didn't own their own home. That was unusual for the age group which "should over their lifetime have built up an asset such as their own family home".

The cost of housing had also increased significantly in the past 18 months, which affected the age group, Ms Leach said.

"And of course they are on a fixed income, so they've got no way of increasing their income."

Other reasons often included not managing to meet their outgoings, including high electricity bills in winter, high medical costs and debt.

However, Ms Leach believed the New Zealand Superannuation pension scheme "has increased every year in line with wage growth" and noted it was not as hard to live on that benefit as it was on the job seekers' benefit.

The free budgeting service often received referrals from the Ministry of Social Development.

The ministry's group general manager of service delivery, Kay Read, said it was there to support people as they aged, to help them be happy, healthy and to feel valued.

"When you're on a fixed income, we know unforeseen expenses can make life incredibly hard.

''We strongly encourage anyone on NZ Super who is struggling to deal with emergency costs or unexpected big bills to get in touch with us so we can work out how we may be able to help them.

"Just like anyone, people on NZ Super may have unexpected housing or health costs.
''They might be finding it tough to care for children or a partner at home. We are here to help.

"Please, if you're having difficulty making ends meet, come and talk to us. Once we understand a person's personal circumstances we can talk through the specific support we're able to give them."

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