All of us hope life is filled with many “ups” such as happiness, love and financial security.

Financial ups such as winning money, paying off a debt, getting a pay increase or starting a great paying job are understandably very easy to deal with.

Events such as these don’t require much advice, other than to be very wise with the extra money.

So if you know you’re not good with finances, and you experience a financial “up” event, our first tip is to make sure you get some good financial advice and set yourself up for a brighter financial future.

But what about when you’re faced with some of the “downs” of financial life, such as being unable to make a loan repayment or pay a bill on time, you’re battling to reduce your credit card debt, have an unexpected car repair, dental or vet bill or are just struggling to budget and save?

We call events such as these “when life happens”.  Financially they can be tough to resolve so please read on for our best tips to help with these 5 challenging situations.

 

1. Don’t have enough money to make your loan repayment

We understand this is not a good feeling, and it’s important to know that many Aussies have experienced this and you are not alone.

What’s the first thing you should do?

  • Contact your lender straight away. Responsible lenders like us have trained staff to help you in this situation. They have a number of options they can discuss with you and they genuinely want to help you. The key is to be upfront and in contact with the lender as soon as you know you can’t make the payment.

What’s the worst thing you can do?

  • Avoid the lender. If you avoid contacting the lender and your payment is missed, you’ll be charged a missed payment fee. The lender will try to contact you about it, but if you continue to avoid their communication and don’t try to make your payment the lender will be forced to start the default process. This can detrimentally affect you for up to 5 years because you could have a default listed on your credit report and this will affect your ability to borrow again.

Don’t feel worried about contacting your lender – they will respect you for your honestly and it’s the best way to find a solution.

 

2. Can’t afford to pay your bills

Utility bills such as electricity, gas, water and phone can vary greatly, so budgeting for them can be tricky.

If you have a bill that’s due but you don’t have enough to cover it, there are things you can do immediately to help.

What’s the first thing you should do?

  • Contact your utility provider immediately. Their hardship officers can provide you with options such as an instalment plan. If you’re eligible they can also help you apply for emergency utility vouchers.

What’s the worst thing you can do?

  • Avoid paying the bill. This will result in your service being cut off and depending on how much you owe, they could lodge a default on your credit report. The Government’s MoneySmart website has a lot of good financial advice for situations like this. Here is a link to their page, “problem paying your utility bill” if you’d like to read more information about the vouchers and rebates that are available.

life's up and downs

 

3. You can’t reduce your credit card debt

Trying to pay off a credit card can be difficult. Many Australians have credit card debts that just won’t reduce as they can only afford the minimum repayments which just covers the interest charges and doesn’t help reduce the debt.

What’s the first thing you should do?

  • Stop using your credit card. Depending on your financial situation, your best option may be to take out a debt consolidation loan so you can repay this credit card debt and close it. If you are not sure if a debt consolidation loan is the best solution for you, consider talking to a free financial counsellor. The Government provides this service through their National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

What’s the worst thing you can do?

  • Get another credit card. If you are unable to be disciplined with one credit card, then taking out another one is potentially going to cause you even more debt problems.

Read our blog “Why choose a personal loan instead of a credit card” to find out more about the dangers of mismanaged credit card debt.

 

4. You get hit with an unexpected expense

Unexpected expenses are incredibly frustrating and seem to hit when we have no excess money in the bank. Where can you suddenly find the money if your car suddenly blows its gearbox? Your dentist says you need an urgent crown? Your pet is raced to the vet? It’s a horrible feeling not knowing what you can do.

What’s the first thing you should do?

  • Discuss if they have any payment options available. Depending on who you owe the money to, you may find they do have payment options available – particularly if you are a regular customer of theirs.

What’s the worst thing you can do?

  • Avoid paying it and not talking to the provider. Sticking your head in the sand and hoping the bill will go away is the worst thing you can do. This avoidance can result in debt collectors constantly trying to find you and potential health issues for yourself such as anxiety/stress plus they could list the outstanding debt on your credit report, again affecting your credit rating and borrowing ability.

 

5. You can’t save money

This is a problem most people face. The truth is to save money you need to work at it and be committed to it.

What’s the first thing you should do?

  • Do a budget and get help. There are so many different ways to budget and save money, so the key is to find the way that works best for you. One budgeting and saving guide many Australian’s have found beneficial is written by Scott Pape, who also goes by the name “the barefoot investor”. It’s important however that you do your own research and find what system matches your way of living the best.

What’s the worst thing you can do?

  • Keep doing what you’re doing and not try! Building up savings unfortunately will not happen without effort and focus. We understand that it’s hard to change your ways, but it is the only way you’ll be able to get ahead. Please give it a try and remember to ask for your loved ones support.

At Fair Go Finance we understand being confronted with any of these “down” situations unfortunately isn’t easy.

The most important thing you can do is to address the event straight away with the most suitable person.

Do this to give yourself the best chance of resolving your financial issue without serious consequences and to help you move forward as quickly as you can. We wish you the very best.

Find out more about the different types of personal loans Fair Go Finance has available.

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Are you eligible to apply?

WARNING - DO YOU REALLY NEED A LOAN TODAY?*

It can be expensive to borrow small amounts of money and borrowing may not solve your money problems.

Check your options before you borrow:
For more information about other options for managing bills and debts, ring 1800 007 007 from anywhere in Australia to talk to a free and independent financial counsellor.

Talk to your electricity, gas, phone or water provider to see if you can work out a payment plan.
If you are on government benefits, ask if you can receive an advance from Centrelink.
www.humanservices.gov.au/advancerepayments

The Australian Government’s MoneySmart Website shows you how small amount loans work and suggests other options that may help you.

* This statement is an Australian Government requirement under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009.