Tips to get through a financial rough patch

COVID-19 has led to job uncertainty and financial stress for many of us. If times are tough for you, there are steps you can take to give yourself some breathing room.

Reach out for support

Plenty of Kiwis are doing it tough at the moment, so please know you’re not alone and don’t be embarrassed to reach out for support. It’s better to get in touch with your bank or credit providers early if you’re struggling, so you can work out a plan together about how to approach things.

If you’re a Kiwibank customer take a look at our Relief and Resilience Programme, which offers a range of support if you’ve been financially impacted by COVID-19. Also look into what Government support you might be entitled to.

Pause or reduce repayments

If you'r struggling to make your home loan repayments, about a loan deferral. A deferral means you might be able to pause your home loan repayments for up to three months.

If you’re still able to make some payments, but would like to decrease the amount, you could consider increasing the length of your loan or moving to interest-only payments.

All of these options will mean that you end up paying more over the long term, but might be worth considering if you need some short-term breathing space. Talk to your bank about what might be the best choice for your circumstances.

Have a go on our home loan calculators to see what impact changing your repayments might have on the overall length of your loan.

If you’re worried about not being able to meet your credit card payments, get in touch to see if you can set up a payment plan. Make sure you’ve got the right credit card for your current circumstances – are you still keen to collect rewards, or do you want to reduce borrowing costs with a low fee or low interest rate option? If you have a credit card with Kiwibank, you can compare rates and fees.

If you're a Kiwibank customer, the best way to get in touch to talk about any of this, is to fill out a personal support form and we'll get back to you.

Consolidate your debts

If you have a bunch of smaller debts, if might be worth considering debt consolidation. This is where you roll multiple debts into one personal loan. Instead of having to manage different repayments and interest rates, you’ll just have the one to look after. Use a personal loan calculator to get an idea of what your repayments might be and don't commit to anything until you're sure you understand the interest rates and fees.

If you have a home loan, you could take advantage of low interest rates and top it up to pay off other debts. If you are thinking about adding to your home loan, use a home loan calculator to work out how much longer it might take to pay off.

Build up reserves

If you’re working, but are worried about job security, now’s the time to strip back your spending to the bare necessities and build up as much as you can, as quickly as you can, in an emergency fund.

You don’t have to commit to a spartan existence forever, but a few weeks of cutting back will help you build up savings more quickly and might help you sleep easier. Treat your savings like a bill that has to be paid, rather than an afterthought. Set up an automatic payment to coincide with your pay and direct it to a separate savings account.

Get budgeting advice

As well as talking to your bank, it might be worth talking to a budgeting service. They can go through your finances with you, give you advice on where you might be able to cut your spending or save some money and help you set up a budget. Money Talks offers free budgeting advice. It’s run by the national charity FinCap and is supported by the Ministry of Social Development, so it’s an organisation you can trust. The Citizens Advice Bureau can also help you find local budgeting services to help you sort out your finances.

If you’re in financial hardship

If you’re a Kiwibank customer and you feel like you’re in over your head with debt and financial worries, you may qualify for financial hardship assistance. You’ll find a Financial Hardship Assistance form on our website. Fill that out and someone will get back to you to talk about your options. The sooner you get in touch, the sooner we can work on getting things sorted.