Seeking help for debt, stress and pressure.
I’ve been driving my best friend up the wall, constantly complaining about money troubles, so she suggested I see a financial counsellor.
Can you tell me what they do, how much they cost and who to contact?
I have debt collectors chasing me but I can’t spare a cent. I’m struggling to keep the lights on and put food on the table for my family. I lie awake at night worrying about what to do, when I’m not dreaming of winning Lotto.
Your best friend has given you good advice. Financial counsellors are non-judgmental, qualified professionals who provide information, support and advocacy to people in financial difficulty, such as yourself. Their services are free, independent and confidential.
You can talk to a financial counsellor from anywhere in Australia by phone 1800 007 007 (free call, minimum hours are 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday). They can direct you to your nearest financial counselling agency for a free and confidential appointment. Alternatively, visit the website: safca.org.au/find-a-financial-counsellor.htmlto find your nearest financial counselling service.
Financial counsellors can talk to creditors on your behalf. They can work on negotiating suitable repayment arrangements and inform you about your rights when dealing with banks and other lenders.
The idea is to help people help themselves, by transferring the knowledge and skills needed to manage personal finances.
This may include assistance and information about problems with insurance companies; lodging complaints to various ombudsmen; understanding consumer rights and codes of practice; reviewing debts and options, including creditor negotiation and information on bankruptcy; or help with budgeting, financial management and financial literacy. The counsellor may identify available concessions, grants, schemes, funds and material aid where appropriate.
They can also handle unpaid electricity, gas, water and telephone bills; suggest referrals to legal assistance on debts and other issues, and; help tackle rental and mortgage problems, reducing the threat of eviction or repossession.
Clients often have other problems, which are caused by or linked to financial problems, such as lack of food and disconnection of essential services. And family problems are often the result of insufficient income, insufficient knowledge of the financial system and harassment associated with over-commitment. It’s important to also understand financial counsellors do not lend money, file tax returns, provide debt consolidation services, deal with investments, promote financial products or assist with management of assets.
Take your friend’s advice and see a financial counsellor, so you can put your mind to rest at night.
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