The ever-increasing cost of living has led to more people seeking budgeting advice.
That demand led to Budget House opening an office, staffed by local women Grace Eastwood and Te Paea Waipouri, in Tūrangi on Tuesday.
The service is an extension of Taupō Budget House, which holds regular clinics in Tūrangi, after the budget advisory premises closed in Tūrangi a number of years ago.
Coordinator Jan Otsuka invites anyone with financial concerns to come and have a confidential chat.
She says the cost of housing was causing big issues, with the average person they see having to put 45 per cent of their income towards paying rent.
"The people who walk through our doors are highly motivated to make changes to improve their life and the life of their whānau," Jan says.
First-time clients tend to be in crisis and need to rework their budget so they can afford food or so the power won't get cut off.
If issues are unaddressed, Jan and her team see financial trouble spiralling out of control, leading to some people sleeping in cars, then losing their jobs and struggling with mental health.
"Many people come to us and they are just one hiccup away from disaster."
Budgeting for the new power bills in Tūrangi is a challenge, now the bills are being combined in one instead of two. Jan says people tend to pay rent first, then the power, and food comes at the end.
Often clients do not realise that it all adds up and payments coming out at different times makes it confusing to manage.
"People say 'oh it's just one thing at $25', but then they have six things on tick. The worst scenario is when they are paying off cars that are crashed and don't go or paying off old appliances."
Poor budgeting skills means it's hard to plan ahead for one-off expenses like getting a warrant for a car.
Tūrangi-Tongariro community board member Te Takinga New gave a blessing to the new Budget House and acknowledged that paying for tangihanga was often prioritised by whānau living in Tūrangi.
Financial mentor for Tūrangi, Grace Eastwood, says offers reassurance that the Budget House service is free and confidential.
"If more people talked about money then there would be better awareness of how to manage personal finances and people would be less likely to fall into the trap of having a large amount of consumer debt," Grace says.
Jan says many people will joke about their financial situation.
"But deep inside they are terrified.
"People get knocked back once and then they won't ask for help. It's a hard thing to ask for help."
She says the people who walk through the door are often ready to make positive changes in their life.
"It can be hard, as not knowing how to manage money can be a generational issue."
Financial mentor for Tūrangi Te Paea Waipouri points to a change in society where there has been a breakdown in communities who would traditionally have provided support, whereas whānau now tend to rely on the government.
Cultural differences also account for how Māori view wealth, Jan says.
"Our purpose is to show that by being financially well yourself, then you can look after your whānau."
Whānau tend to come to Budget House when they are in a crisis, and once that is sorted, Jan says some of them begin to dream big.
She says clients know they can always come back, and some of their clients keep coming back as their dreams become bigger.
"To get to the crux of their financial problems they have to resolve lots of other issues. It can be a bit like peeling an onion: you can't resolve your addiction problem, marriage break-up, or whatever it is without first fixing the money."
Based on the 2018 census the median income in the Tūrangi-Tongariro ward is $22,900, compared to $30,300 for the whole of the Taupō District.
Jan says jobs are scarce in Tūrangi and there are significant barriers to working such as the high cost of petrol, lack of public transport, difficulty finding after-school childcare, and lack of education choices for children with special needs.
"Young families were attracted to Tūrangi because it was a lot cheaper, but there is entrenched poverty here."
Jan says they aim to offer a "non-scary" budget advice service and Te Paea and Grace are there to help and want to make people comfortable.
Both have recently qualified in financial mentoring and Te Paea is close to finishing a psychology degree while Grace is a qualified accountant.
Get Budget Advice
Where: Budget House, shop 51, Tūrangi Mall
How: Walks-in welcome as Covid-19 restrictions allow but at the moment appointments are required.
Contact Us: Telephone 377 1094 and 022 693 0342, email firstname.lastname@example.org.