In Times of Need – Feb 2005

It has just occurred to me that budgeting is just like dieting. We watch our fatter friends struggle with one diet after another. Often the diet starts as a result of sudden awareness of weight gain. The goal is reached, the diet abandoned until the next time. It is hard, after all, look at Oprah. With all of the dieticians, chefs, personal trainers, she is still like a yo-yo. On the other hands, the skinny people are a bit like financially sound people, apart from the gradual gravity shift through old age, weight is rarely a bother.
Budgeting, unfortunately is not a great deal different. As yet another crisis looms, yet another budget is formulated, crisis overcome, and spending starts again.
In the Budget Service, we are well aware that by the end of January each year we will have the post Christmas sufferers at our office. It is usually because the important expenses have been shelved to make way for the more exciting business of gift giving. In the past month we have seen many people with rent arrears, power arrears and repossession of goods. This last causes even more heartache when the person concerned has ONLY been the guarantor. Our best advice is never, never act as guarantor for anyone, including best friends and family. The sad fact is that the guarantor is always the one who loses if the borrower fails to keep to any agreement.
On a brighter note, we look forward to preparing budgets for families and individuals following the benefit changes due on 1 April. In addition to the annual small weekly benefit adjustment, many will gain under the Working For Families Policy, delivered by Inland Revenue and Work and Income. The Accommodation Supplement may increase for families of 3 people or more. In addition the supplement will not be affected if a beneficiary works while in receipt of a benefit. This is good news for beneficiaries who currently receive a reduction in the accommodation supplement. Increases to Family Support will also take effect, and I understand that there will be changes for those receiving Family Assistance from IRD. Payments will be weekly, and in cases of seasonal work or job loss, Family Support at the full rate will be available through Work and Income with the appropriate benefit.
For help with your money management do make an appointment with your local Budget Service
Pearl Pavitt
Public Relations and Education Officer
Rotorua Budget Advisory Service

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