Financial hardship occurs when you can’t meet your existing financial obligations for a period of time. This may be caused by a number of reasons, such as illness or a change in employment. Your bank may be able to help.
If you think you might be experiencing financial hardship, you should take the following steps:
Assess your personal circumstances
Take a close look at your income and expenses. Consider your overall living expenses and work out which are priorities (for example, food, rent, mortgage payments and utility bills) and which aren’t essential.
Contact your bank
Contact your bank early if you are struggling to meet your financial obligations. Ask to speak to the “financial hardship team”.
Tip: It’s important to be open and honest about your personal circumstances and financial situation so your bank can determine if, and how, it can help you.
Provide information to your bank
Your bank may ask you for some information to help it assess your financial situation, including evidence of your financial position, evidence of employment and income, and evidence of any medical circumstances.
Keep talking to your bank
If your bank offers a hardship arrangement and you accept, you’ll need to make sure you meet your side of the agreement. The bank will provide you with details of the arrangement and, if applicable, a new repayment plan.
If you can’t meet the terms of the new repayment plan, you should contact your bank as soon as possible and discuss the situation. Your bank could agree to enter into a new arrangement.
Hardship assistance options
Hardship arrangements vary depending on circumstances. Some financial hardship assistance options include:
- Deferring or reducing loan repayments.
- Restructuring and consolidating loans.
- Altering loan repayments to interest-only.
- Changing limits on your credit card.
- Waiving certain fees and charges.
- Waiving penalties for early withdrawal of a term deposit.
- Providing a moratorium on collections action.
- Providing alternative banking arrangements.
Where to go for more information
The Commission for Financial Capability’s website: www.sorted.org.nz
FinCap supports a network of trained financial mentors to provide free, confidential and personalised budgeting advice. Visit their website at www.fincap.org.nz.