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Family Forum: Getting on Top of Credit Card Spending

Should I consolidate my debts? Find out more…

QUESTION:

I hope someone there can help me. My dear wife passed away two years ago and since she’s been gone, I’ve had to live on less money – just the single aged pension to pay my rent and everything else. So I’ve been using credit cards that I’ve had for years but never used much before. Now they are maxed out to more than $30,000. I really don’t know what to do and feel very ashamed. My daughter says I should consolidate my debt but I really don’t know if that is possible. Are you able to help?

ANSWER:

Financial counsellors are people who can help. Financial counsellors provide free and confidential advice to anyone at financial risk. Nearly everyone has trouble managing their money at some time in their life, so you are not alone. The latest Reserve Bank of Australia statistics show Australians owe a massive $51.6 billion on credit cards and $32.6 billion is accruing interest. Many credit card interest rates are above 20 per cent.

In your case the financial counsellor would examine your income and make sure you are paid the correct amount age pension from Centrelink, verify that you are receiving a rent allowance and check for concessions on electricity, water, cost of living, transport as well as health care card entitlements. The financial counsellor would examine your credit card contracts to make sure that the banks made proper financial assessments for credit suitability when you first took out these credit cards. All banks are legislated under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act (2010) to provide hardship facilities, so if you are struggling to make repayments, the financial counsellor can negotiate and advocate for a suitable/affordable repayment plan for you. Consolidation of your credit card debts may be an option that would be explored during your interview.

To find out where your nearest financial counselling office is, phone the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007. You can then organise a suitable date and time. Feel free to ask your daughter to accompany you to your interview. More information is available on the website (ndh.org.au) where you can also explore the map showing locations of more than 850 financial counsellors.

Please note you should never have to pay for this advice. Professional financial counsellors offer a free, independent and confidential service. They exist to help you get back on track, not to sell anything or make money from you.

The panel also recommends that you make an appointment with your local doctor to verify that you are managing your health and your grief.

Submit Your Questions

Family Forum is a panel of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it. The panel is appointed by Relationships Australia SA.

Have you got a question you’d like us to tackle?

Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

We treat communications in strict confidence except when the law demands otherwise, as in child abuse.

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