Frances Ronowicz, BNZ’s Head of Customer Care, shares how we partner with Good Shepherd NZ to reduce the stress of debt for people on limited incomes.
A lot of us have money problems at some point in our lives. But for many New Zealanders, money – or, more accurately, the financial and emotional pressure caused by debt – can be the number one stress.
For Sarah*, it was after her partner suffered a limb amputation that life became overwhelming. Their lives suddenly changed and, to add fuel to the fire, they had to move to an entirely different part of the country to access specialised healthcare. Their future was unclear and stressful to think about: “Then we were referred to Good Shepherd.”
Good Shepherd NZ is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to tackle the significant issues impacting women, girls, and whānau. We work together with Good Shepherd NZ, with support from the Ministry of Social Development, to help families living on limited incomes improve their quality of life, and guide them towards better long-term financial wellbeing.
We’ve committed $60 million in lending for initiatives like Good Loans to support New Zealanders to find a fair and affordable way to respond to unexpected life changes, and avoid predatory lenders and unmanageable debt.
One of the ways Good Shepherd NZ can help is with Good Loans. These are fair, affordable, not-for-profit loans designed to help people with essential costs like fixing a car to get to work, or paying for unexpected medical or dental expenses.
Another service Good Shepherd NZ offers is DEBTsolve. This service combines wellbeing, debt coaching, advocacy, and debt solution loans of up to $15,000 to help with unmanageable debt. After hearing about this programme, Sarah and her partner decided to give it a go – and take back control of their debt.
As Sarah told me, “They listened and understood what we needed. But we had to do our part too, and live within the realistic budget they worked out with us.”
The key to successfully supporting people like Sarah lies in Good Shepherd NZ’s highly collaborative approach. Their Good Loans advisors and financial wellbeing coaches work directly with clients, with BNZ, and other community partners whose role it is to connect people in need with Good Shepherd NZ’s services.
Their guidance and support saw Sarah and her partner take back control of their finances, reaching out to utility providers to find the cheapest deal, paying down debt, and getting help from their financial wellbeing coach to speak with their creditors to make payment arrangements. The service was tailored to their individual circumstances and needs.
I’ve since heard from Good Shepherd NZ that Sarah and her partner have made great progress in their financial wellbeing journey. They’re still working with their financial wellbeing coach on existing debts. When I asked what advice they’d give to someone in a similar situation, they said, “While you might not be good with figures, you still need to understand where you’re at financially. You have to own your debt and be accountable.”
To learn more about Good Shepherd NZ and its services, visit its website.
*Please note: the name and any identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the person involved.
Any views expressed in this article are the personal views of Frances Ronowicz and do not necessarily represent the views of BNZ, or its related entities. This article is solely for information purposes and is not intended to be financial advice. If you need help, please contact BNZ or your financial adviser. Neither BNZ nor any person involved in this article accepts any liability for any direct or indirect loss or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance on, all or any part of the content. References to third party websites are provided for your convenience only. BNZ accepts no responsibility for the availability or content of such websites.