The Federation of Family Budgeting Services says the number of New Zealanders needing help with their household budgeting continues to place pressure on community organisations.
The Federation is the professional body for budgeting services, with 162 member organisations across New Zealand. CEO Raewyn Fox says they have just completed a statistical gathering round and the results make for interesting reading. “We’ve been seeing over 45,000 client families each year for the past few years. This places significant pressure on our services yet we’re continuing to see incredible results from budget advisers with stretched capacity,” Fox said.
Budget advisers are a mix of volunteers (56%) and paid staff (44%), whose clients tend to present in debt strife. “Some of our clients are income earners, and some are beneficiaries. Not all of them are in debt, but many are,” Fox explained. “The average debt is $25,500 per client, or $464.5 million in total. Of that $25,500, about $3,700 would be overdue. That’s usually the crisis that brings them to us.”
Fox said even paid advisers often volunteer extra hours to help clients get through. Almost 460,000 hours were spent offering budgeting advice in the past year. “It’s an amazing effort from very dedicated people.”
This effort shows very real results for New Zealand communities. Around $50 million of debt was repaid (or otherwise settled) with businesses, about $2,700 per client, before the client was confident enough to continue on their own.
The Federation advisers allocate client debt in to any of 11 categories. Clients owed the most to mortgages ($176 million), finance company loans ($87 million), bank loans ($68 million) and government departments ($63 million).
The Federation has been proactive in attempting to reach clients earlier, delivering nearly 1,800 community education courses each year. “Community education courses are a great way to let people know a little about budgeting, but also shows them what a budgeting service does. This means that if things start to go a bit pear-shaped for that person, they know where to turn – early. Problems are always easier to sort out early on.”
The New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Service offers free, confidential and non-judgemental advice through its network of 162 member budgeting services. You can find you nearest budgeting service at www.familybudgeting.org.nz or by calling 0508 BUDGETLINE.