People often think there is no hope, but we can give them hope

Virginia McCreadie is a financial mentor for Budget House Taupō. Like most financial mentors, she works with clients from all walks of life. “There is a perception that we deal with only one income bracket,” says Virginia. “But we work with clients right across the spectrum, from those who are homeless with no income, to those who are wealthy with assets – and everyone in between.”

“Whether you have a little or a lot of money, financial challenges happen,” she explains. “Things can change in the blink of an eye; big life events like a marriage break-up, a death in the family or the impact of COVID-19 – there are all sorts of reasons that people need financial help. We’re here to help with people in crisis, but also with financial resilience and future planning, so there’s less chance that a financial crisis will happen again.”

Organisations like Ngā Tāngata Microfinance are targeted at those who have fewer options, says Virginia. “ They’re here to ensure that people who were okay but now aren’t, are able to be okay again,” she explains. “Especially for those on low incomes who need to pay off high-interest debt or get the essential things they need.”

Virginia says that NTM’s GetControl Debt Relief Loan has been the most helpful to her clients. “Some people misunderstand high interest and get themselves into a spiral of debt. Sometimes they don’t know that they have more choices – the GetControl loan is a way for them to alleviate that challenge. They go from struggling to pay a ridiculous interest rate to being able to let it tick over and be okay financially.

“We help our clients make their own decisions – we don’t do it for them,” explains Virginia. “We talk about their personal circumstances and give them a financial tool-belt to help, but it’s their choice as to whether they wish to pursue those things. Sometimes clients aren’t aware of all the options – our job is to make them aware and show them how it can work.”

Virginia says her role is “super-rewarding”. “The most rewarding part is seeing the huge relief on my clients’ faces and being able to reduce the ‘pressure cooker’ of stress. Money problems can affect so many aspects of a person’s life, causing mental health issues, stress, anger, violence and depression. I help my clients understand that’s there’s someone who can walk alongside them, who won’t judge them.

“Once they know they’re going to be okay, it’s so awesome. People often think there is no hope, but we can give them hope.”

Note: all names including those of the loan companies have been changed. Any re-publishing of these case studies need the permission of Ngā Tāngata Microfinance Ltd.