Struggling? Apply financial first aid now

Mark Bates is a financial counsellor with Lifeline Queensland. He says it is essential to act early if you think you might be starting to struggle with finances.

“The earlier you act to repair your financial position the better. It is important to remember that there is help out there. No one wants to see you fail. The lender certainly doesn’t.”

Because it is so important to tackle financial problems early, Lifeline Queensland started a new service in 2009 called Financial First Aid.

“We found that because our waiting list of people seeking financial counselling was so long, people were in much more trouble when they got in to see us, then when they first called us,” said Deborah Morgan, Lifeline’s Marketing and Communications manager.

“The Financial First Aid service gives phone support and immediate assistance and that can avert a lot of problems later on.”

Bank of Queensland corporate affairs manager Caroline Dunworth says the first thing to do if you find you're getting behind on your mortgage repayments is to call your bank.

“As soon as we're made aware that a customer is experiencing difficulty, we will work with them to help them through a difficult time.

“Our hardship package isn't ‘one size fits all' but instead we look at a customer's specific circumstances and discuss with them the best solution for them in the short term,” says Dunworth.

“These options can include repayments holidays or extending the loan period to reduce repayments.”

Mark Bates says people should act even before they begin to fall behind.

“In terms of preventing a big financial problem, people can get on top of budgeting, perhaps negotiate a payment plan with their credit card issuer if they are struggling to repay that.

“They could also ask for a variation of repayments on their car loan.”

Source: Courier Mail