Stretching your budget: we’re here to help
It’s a tough world out there and making that household dollar stretch to cover all expenses, is an increasing challenge for people today. Services such as the Central Otago Budgeting Service, located in ‘Church House’ at 20 Centennial Avenue, Alexandra, are not only there to help, but are finding that more and more families are turning to them for support and advice in this current climate. Pam from the Central Otago service says that their clientele have change in recent times, and now add the middle income earners into those they are meeting with and assisting. ‘‘Previously they have been able to manage on what they have earned, but for some now, its catch up time and struggling to make that dollar stretch further.’’ ‘‘Many go from paying one bill or the next and then buy food with what little is left over, while others buy food, and then try and pay the power bill or it’s left until next pay, and then it becomes ‘catch up’ and the problems start arising.’’ ‘‘There is also pressure put on families for things they may not be able to afford. Five dollars here for a school trip, a donation for a mufti day, some people do not have this ready change.’’ ‘‘What is shrapnel on a wallet for some people is a lifeline for others and can make the difference between buying a loaf of bread or a litre or two of milk.’’ The Central Otago Budget Advice Service is there to help people find ways of ‘getting over that bump’. ‘‘It is very trying out there for people,’’ Pam said. ‘‘For some people it is circumstances that has got them to this difficult time; for others it’s choice. Some could cut their costs to meet their means, but pride gets in their way as they feel they have got an image to uphold.’’ ‘‘And it’s people of all ages and from all walks of life who need advice. You can’t put them all in one basket,’’ she said. The Central Otago Budget Advisory Service has its main base on Alexandra, but covers Queenstown, Wanaka, Ranfurly, Cromwell, Roxburgh, down to Raes Junction and anywhere in between. If help is needed, then Pam at (03) 4488072 is the first point of contact. Office hours are 9.30am – 12.30pm, but outside of these a message can be left which will always be followed up on. All referrals for advice and support are done through Pam, and she says she is fortunate to have excellent trained volunteers across Central Otago who can help people. ‘‘Budget advice is a very personal thing for people to ask for,’’ Pam said. ‘‘While some people are happy to talk about that, others have their pride and keep it very secret.’’ Co-ordinating the budget advice session with the client and advisor is part of Pam’s role, and it depends very much on the client, their circumstances, their ability to travel and their location where this takes place. ‘‘We will travel to meet people, and this meeting can take place in their home or at a neutral place, or they could meet somewhere such as the Cromwell Resource Centre if that was more suitable.’’ ‘‘When we meet, we look at everything for the client on the financial side,’’ Pam said. ‘‘Some people we can’t help, as they are doing everything they can for themselves and getting everything they are entitled to.’’ ‘‘But most people we can help to make a difference and help to make their dollar go further.’’ The support of several businesses and funding groups in the district is very important to the service Central Otago Budget Advice gives, Pam said.