Maureen Little knows all too well how the rising cost of living and the temptation of easy credit can play havoc with your finances.
After 23 years at Presbyterian Support Northern, the Budgeting Service Manager has seen many people who suddenly find they can no longer cope.
"The rising cost of living, increasing consumer demand and the ready availability of credit are all driving up expenditure and debt, with many ending up in very difficult financial positions," says Maureen. "Because most clients who come to us are in a crisis situation, every effort is made to see them as soon as possible – even if this means working nights or weekends."
Presbyterian Support Northern's Budgeting service helps people evaluate their financial position, plan for the future and move from an indebted situation to financial independence whenever possible.
The service provides free financial advice and budget planning for people having difficulty managing their income and expenditure. Clients meet with a trained budgeter and together they go through their financial situation and draw up a budgeting plan. The budgeter makes recommendations for simple and easy ways to cut down on expenses, pay off debts and get back on track.
"The aftermath of the recession is being seen on a daily basis by our budgeters," says Maureen. "Recently a budgeter met with a client who was struggling financially. As the interview progressed, it became obvious that the client had insufficient funds to purchase food. The client admitted she hadn't eaten for three days. The budgeter halted the meeting immediately and gave the client a hot meal, then they continued on to develop a financial plan that would help ease their financial burden."
Thanks to funding received by The Tindall Foundation, in 2009/10 the Budgeting service was able to assist 380 new clients and their families with a combined debt of well over $10 million.