Home' Napier Mail : July 19th 2011 Contents 4 NAPIER MAIL, JULY 20, 2011
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Help is at hand for
your finance woes
By CLINTON LLEWELLYN
Budget advice: Greta Wham, co-ordinator of the
Hastings Budget Advisory Service, which has seen a
record number of new clients in the last 12 months.
Hastings Budget Advisory Service:
No.ofnewclientsfor12mthstoJune30: . .
Previous year: . .
New clients' total debt: . .
. . $10.38 million
Debt retired in the last 12 mths: . .
. . $381,392
Seek help sooner rather than later
Avoid taking personal loans or instant cash loans -- these
can ''compound'' financial difficulties
If you do take out a loan, shop around for the best interest
rates, terms and conditions
Do not ignore repossession notices
Do not sign as a guarantor for a loan for anyone in financial
Minimum for a balanced diet ($ per week, per person)
Woman . .
Adolescent boy . .
Adolescent girl . .
10yearoldchild . .
1yroldbaby . .
*University of Otago/Department of Nutrition
Food is one of the first things
sacrificed by financially-
stricken Hastings families
burdened by $10million worth
of debt, according to the Hast-
ings Budget Advisory Service.
Last week Statistics New Zea-
land released official figures
confirming what many strug-
gling families already knew --
that the cost of food has risen,
Food prices rose 7.5 percent
for the 12 months to June 30
this year, far outstripping
inflation, which is at a 21-year
high of 5.3 per cent. The price of
fruit and vegetables alone rose
by 15.7 per cent.
Greta Wham, co-ordinator of
the Hastings Budget Advisory
Service, which has seen a record
number of new clients in the
past 12 months, says food is
always the main priority when
devising a new budget for people
in financial hardship.
But food is the one item they
have most control over, so it is,
unfortunately, one of the first
things they cut back on, she
A minimum weekly amount
for food for a balanced diet for
each individual is included in
budgets prepared by the service,
based on recommended figures
from the University of Otago s
It s food first, rent or mort-
gage second, and then power,
says Ms Wham. A phone is
often essential and then it s
medical expenses. The hospital
is saying a GP should be people s
first port of call rather than the
emergency department, but
right now a lot of people are say-
ing they can t afford to go to the
It s a claim Ms Wham is hear-
ing all the more often. There s
currently a three to four-week
wait for an appointment with
one of the service s three perma-
nent and two part-time advisers.
It s not normally that long,
says Ms Wham, who s been
involved with the service for 25
years, but it has been this way
for the past several months. It s
probably the worst I ve seen it.
The core message here is for
people not to wait until it s too
late. The sooner people come to
us for help, the easier it is for us
to fix things.
In the 12 months to June 30
this year, the Hastings service
saw 571 new clients, up from
440 the previous year, who were
collectively $10,379,800 in debt.
The actual figure is higher, as
couples and families are only
counted as one client.
Mrs Pham said, historically,
most new clients were people
receiving some type of benefit
but now we are seeing more
and more people who are are on
wages or earning a salary.
Around 23 per cent of new
clients were wage-earners or
earning a salary (135), but the
vast majority were people on a
benefit (401). Of the new clients,
304 people identified as being
Maori, while 216 identified as
The majority of new clients
were middle-aged, with 172
between the ages of 46 to 65.
There were 153 between 36 to
45; and 127 clients were
between the ages of 26 to 35.
Despite the grim figures, the
service has its successes, says
In the past 12 months, new
clients were able to retire
$381,392 worth of debt.
The hardest thing about
budgeting is for people to stick
to it, and having the discipline
to see it through, says Ms
Debt is exceedingly stressful
and we take into account
people s state of mind when we
help them to budget. We don t
judge, she said.
Ms Wham warned people
against taking out personal
loans or applying for instant
cash loans to pay bills. These
merely compounded people s
financial woes, she said.
But if people had taken out
instant loans, they should not
feel pressured into making
payments on arrears they
couldn t afford.
The service could negotiate
directly with creditors on
people s behalf, she said.
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