I OWE MYBUD­GET $ 1250

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - WORLD -

Hey Bare­foot, I signed up with money-man­ag­ing agency MyBud­get be­cause I felt that some fi­nan­cial struc­ture and dis­ci­pline would be good, and also to make my par­ents happy.

Un­for­tu­nately, the model did not work for me. I do not think it is OK for some­one with men­tal health is­sues to be told they can­not see their psy­chol­o­gist be­cause there is no money for it, or they can­not have their pre­scrip­tions filled at the chemist for the same rea­son.

At the time, I signed a con­tract for 12 months but I found it far too re­stric­tive and in­flex­i­ble, and started man­ag­ing my money my­self again after a few months. The trou­ble is, I ended up ow­ing MyBud­get $1250 in fees and charges.

I was asked to pay within a time frame but I never did, as I couldn’t af­ford it. Now I am fol­low­ing the Bare­foot steps, I don’t think I can say I am truly debt-free and don’t owe a cent to any­one un­til I clear this.

So I would like your ad­vice as to what to do — pay up, or as­sume that MyBud­get have writ­ten off the debt?

Tara

Hi Tara I wouldn’t pay them. Then again, I don’t think any­one should pay them. First, be­cause they’ve built their busi­ness on the back of broke, vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple (for those who don’t know, MyBud­get is the fi­nan­cial equiv­a­lent of hav­ing a per­sonal trainer come around, lock your fridge and dish out the food to you). Sec­ond, be­cause they charge too bloody much (over a thou­sand dol­lars up­front, as well as on­go­ing fees).

Quick quiz. If MyBud­get are run­ning your bud­get, guess who gets paid first? If you an­swered “my psy­chol­o­gist”, or maybe “the chemist for my pre­scribed medicine”, you would be wrong.

Third, be­cause no one should hand over the re­spon­si­bil­ity of man­ag­ing their money.

Se­ri­ously, if what you’re say­ing is true — that their bud­get­ing per­son said you should scrimp on men­tal health and pre­scrip­tions — that’s kind of ... crazy. So I’d write a let­ter to them ex­plain­ing your is­sues and say­ing that you got aw­ful ser­vice and be­cause of that you’d like them to write off the debt (and pro­vide you with a let­ter con­firm­ing they’ve done it). And if they say no, I’ll take it up on your be­half.

Note to read­ers: If you’re hav­ing prob­lems with debt, you should ring 1800 007 007 and speak to a com­mu­nity-based fi­nan­cial coun­sel­lor. They of­fer an in­de­pen­dent ser­vice, and best of all they don’t charge $1250 ... they do it for free.

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