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Conquering the Kiwi Climb: Overcoming Debt in Aotearoa

Debt, whether it's a student loan, mortgage, or credit card debt, is a reality for many Kiwis. While it can feel overwhelming, it's important to remember that you're not alone and there are steps you can take to overcome it. This guide equips you with the knowledge and resources to tackle your debt and regain financial control.

Understanding Your Debt:

  • List your debts: Make a comprehensive list of all your debts, including the amount owed, interest rates, and minimum repayments. This helps you visualize the situation and prioritize your efforts.

  • Identify "high-cost" debt: Credit cards and some personal loans typically have higher interest rates than mortgages or student loans. Focus on paying down these high-cost debts first to minimize the snowball effect of compounding interest.

Crafting a Debt Repayment Plan:

  • The "Snowball" method: Pay off the smallest debts first, regardless of interest rate. This provides a sense of accomplishment and can boost your motivation.

  • The "Avalanche" method: Prioritize paying off debts with the highest interest rates first, regardless of the amount owed. This saves you money on interest in the long run.

  • Choose a method: Decide which method best suits your personality and financial situation. Remember, you can always switch methods if needed.

Strategies to Pay Down Debt:

  • Budgeting is Key: Create a realistic budget that tracks your income and expenses. Identify areas where you can cut back and allocate those savings towards debt repayment. Utilize budgeting tools like Sorted's budget planner (https://sorted.org.nz/guides/planning-and-budgeting) or apps readily available to Kiwis.

  • Increase your income: Explore options to increase your income, like taking on a side hustle or negotiating a raise at work.

  • Debt consolidation: Consider consolidating high-interest debts into a single loan with a lower interest rate. This simplifies your repayments and can potentially save you money. However, be cautious of extending repayment terms and ensure it aligns with your overall debt repayment strategy.

Seeking Help:

  • Free Debt Help: Don't hesitate to seek free professional help. Several organisations in New Zealand offer free debt advice and support, such as the MoneyTalks budgeting service (https://www.moneytalks.co.nz/) and the Salvation Army's Financial Assistance Scheme (https://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/get-help/welfare/loan-services).

  • Financial Advisors: Consider consulting a qualified financial advisor who can create a personalized debt repayment plan and guide you towards financial wellness.

Remember: Overcoming debt takes time, commitment, and resilience. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small, and don't be discouraged by setbacks. With the right strategies and support, you can successfully navigate the climb towards financial freedom and achieve your financial goals.

Additional Resources:

  • The Commission for Financial Capability: Offers resources and tools to help Kiwis manage their money, including information on debt management: https://retirement.govt.nz/

  • The Financial Markets Authority (FMA): Provides information and resources on financial literacy and consumer rights: https://www.fma.govt.nz/