Noeline’s story: from financial hardship to a way forward

Noeline is one of an increasing number of super annuitants experiencing financial hardship in old age. After losing her husband seven years ago, she moved from Wairoa to Tauranga to live closer to her daughter. At 79 years of age and with very little savings, she moved into a house in a life style Village in Papamoa. 

“I have never had much and have always been frugal and able to make ends meet, particularly when raising our four children,” Noeline explains. “I know how to live off the smell of an oily rag, but today that has become impossible.”

Noeline’s financial troubles began when her car broke down and she had to replace it. “I got a loan to buy the new car, but it broke down shortly afterwards and I didn’t have the money to fix it on top of my loan repayments.”

To compound her financial problems, she ended up in hospital for a year with severe back problems. “I went from hospital to a rest home to recover before moving back to the Freedom Village. That took the last of my savings.”

Sadly, Noeline’s daughter in Tauranga died around this time from bowel cancer and Noeline had little support. She moved back to her house, lonely, grieving and with mounting financial problems. “I couldn’t see any way out of my situation so I contacted Age Concern. They were marvellous and put me in contact with a financial mentor, Sue.”

Sue worked with Noeline to help her get on top of her finances which included arranging a zero-interest, zero-fees loan from Ngā Tāngata Microfinance (NTM). “Sue was wonderful and the team at Ngā Tāngata were amazing,” enthuses Noeline. “I can’t tell you the pressure that has been lifted from having the loan from NTM.” 

Noeline still has two years before the loan will be paid off. “I’m used to living on very little, but I will be pleased to have it all behind me,” says Noeline. “I usually have $75 a fortnight for food after my other expenses have been paid from my Super. Fortunately, I have a vegetable garden and wonderful neighbours who sometimes give me a fish, which is lovely.” 

With the increasing cost of food in the past year, Noeline says she has had to ask for a food parcel from time to time. “The prices are getting higher and higher and my food budget just doesn’t go far enough these days.”

Despite everything, Noeline feels fortunate that she has managed to get her money problems sorted. “Compared to many people, I am lucky. I know that some pensioners have a really tough time with barely anything to eat and no money for anything.”

“I really hope that they have someone to guide and support them as I did,” she says. “Thank you Ngā Tāngata – you have taken an enormous amount of stress from me and I am very grateful.”