There are many unforeseen events that happen in our everyday lives that can cause money stress, sleepless nights, relationship issues and, in extreme cases, depression or suicide. Usually these are one-off events such as a death in the family, serious accidents, illness and hospitalisation, marriage break ups, criminal convictions or job loss, but they have the potential to cause major financial hardship. These can impact your finances to the point where you feel totally stressed and don’t know what to do.
Over the past 28 years in the finance industry, I have seen them all. In times of stress it is a natural reaction to ignore the problem or hide the problem in the hope it will resolve itself and go away. Unfortunately, this is the worst course of action you can take and can cause the issue to compound and cost you extra money, time and stress. Money stress is many different things to many people – it might be that you cannot pay all your bills on time, you might be behind with loan or car payments, you might have missed a mortgage or rental payment. So, what should you do if you find yourself in this situation?
The first thing is to talk to someone trusted (family or friend) or get some good advice from a trusted adviser. Do not ignore the problem; it won’t go away. Secondly, if it is a money or budgeting issue (i.e., less cash coming in than what you are spending) then seek out the help of a budgeting adviser. There are a number in Rodney who offer this as a free service. Citizens Advice Bureau or familybudgeting.org.nz are a great start. They can help you plan a budget and help prioritise who and what to pay first.
If you have loans in arrears or have missed mortgage payments, talk over options with the lender or bank you have borrowed from. They have obligations to help you under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act. But you need to act quickly as there are time limits and limits on the number of missed payments you can get help with. See consumerprotection.govt.nz for full details of your rights.
If things have gone too far and you have been issued with a formal demand, threatened with legal action or have had a mortgagee sale notice sent to you, then you need to speak to your lawyer for advice and speak to a good financial adviser to understand what can be done. Over the past 15 years I have saved over 100 people from losing their homes in a mortgagee sale. I understand how the banks and lenders work, and by providing them with a clear strategy on how to resolve the problem, we can usually get them to cease any action and work with us for a resolution. Having money issues can be a stressful time, but understand there are many other people in the same or worse situation than you. With some good advice and intervention, you can resolve these issues, get back on track and your finance woes sorted. You are the one in control!