Christ­mas ex­pen­sive time

Napier Courier - - News -

At the Napier Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bu­reau, we’re brac­ing our­selves for the usual sea­sonal in­quiries about get­ting in to and out of debt. Here are some pos­si­ble ex­am­ples:

■ It’s been a re­ally ex­pen­sive year and I just don’t seem to be able to get my head above wa­ter. The fam­ily will all be ex­pect­ing their usual quite ex­pen­sive presents and I def­i­nitely have to put on the usual Christ­mas din­ner for fam­ily and a few friends. But I re­ally haven’t any spare cash. Should I just go ahead and buy on credit and hope to catch up in the New Year?

Well done for recog­nis­ing your predica­ment. So many peo­ple just go ahead and hope for some mir­a­cle in the New Year, like a Lotto win.

If you can’t af­ford it, your fam­ily and friends should re­spect you if you ex­plain your sit­u­a­tion. Some ex­cel­lent present choices are avail­able at the $2 type shops. For Christ­mas din­ner, rather than ex­pen­sive vis­its to butchers and su­per­mar­kets, why not make it a “pot luck” din­ner where ev­ery­one con­trib­utes?

And be­ware of the Box­ing Day sales. They’re to ben­e­fit the re­tail­ers, not those who can’t re­ally af­ford to buy. And also the door-to-door sales­peo­ple — they can be very per­sua­sive.

■ Un­for­tu­nately, I’m al­ready in se­ri­ous debt and can’t see any way of meet­ing over­due ac­counts, credit card debts and loan re­pay­ments. What are my op­tions?

The first step is to talk, without de­lay, to the peo­ple to who you owe money. So long as you make an ef­fort, they should be will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate a re­pay­ment ar­range­ment you can man­age.

Credit con­tracts (loans and hire pur­chase) must now, by law, in­clude a hard­ship pro­vi­sion. So, if your re­pay­ment prob­lems re­sult from an un­ex­pected change in your cir­cum­stances, the lender is ex­pected to con­sider more man­age­able re­pay­ment in­stal­ments, or even re­pay­ment hol­i­days.

If you’re a WINZ ben­e­fi­ciary, ask your case man­ager about pos­si­ble as­sis­tance.

If you have a lower in­ter­est bank mort­gage, see if your other debts can be added to the mort­gage.

If you’re in Ki­wiSaver, ask your provider if you can with­draw con­tri­bu­tions on hard­ship grounds — they will be re­luc­tant to agree, as you’ll need this for when you re­tire.

There are trained bud­get ad­vis­ers who can be very help­ful in such cir­cum­stances. If nec­es­sary, ask us and we’ll put you in touch with them.

■ Un­for­tu­nately it’s got past that stage, and I’ve re­ceived a debt col­lec­tor’s no­tice.

This needs to be dealt with ur­gently, as there could now be in­ter­est and other charges be­ing added to your debt. And your credit rat­ing will be af­fected for sev­eral years. If you don’t agree with what’s be­ing claimed, you should im­me­di­ately con­tact them or the firm they’re act­ing for, prefer­ably in writ­ing, and pro­vide any ev­i­dence prov­ing what you be­lieve to be the cor­rect sit­u­a­tion. We can help with let­ters, etc. Re­mem­ber to keep copies of ev­ery­thing!

Oth­er­wise, it’s a mat­ter of ne­go­ti­at­ing a re­pay­ment ar­range­ment. They are likely to be more com­fort­able if they know you are work­ing with a trained bud­get ad­viser from one of the fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­ity ser­vices avail­able lo­cally.

■ For more free in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice about any­thing at all, please don’t hes­i­tate to con­tact us.

T: 835 9664 or 0800 367 222. Email [email protected] www.cab.org.nz

126 Hastings St. (above the BNZ in Napier), 9am-4pm week­days and 9am-11am Satur­days.

We are only too happy to help.

Watch your debt lev­els this Christ­mas.

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