“We want to pay back our debts but we want to make it affordable…Way Forward put together a plan. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Hani and her husband were so excited to have bought their first family home.
They had chosen house and land package that was perfect. Once they had finished building the house, they thought they were putting on the finishing touches that would complete their home: a driveway, some curtains and furniture.
Soon, those small expense became big and they could not keep up with repayments.
“We bought a house and land package. It was the first house we owned so we didn’t know the things that can add up so quickly.
“We started to use a credit card to pay for the driveway and all the other things like curtain rods and window coverings and landscaping and buying furniture. That was the starting point.
“At the same time, my husband was made redundant twice. He was working in the IT industry. He didn’t have a job for about 2 months at a time, both times. We were using credit cards to pay off bills.
“It was hard to keep up with the monthly minimum repayments. It felt like we were playing a catch-up game. We tried switching from one credit card to another, but the same thing happened again.”
They realised that they were getting nowhere. They wanted to pay the money back to the banks because Hani and her husband felt responsible for borrowing the money. In a way, they wanted to learn a lesson from the experience.
“Sometimes you need to learn a lesson the hard way. I said to my husband that we should try to make it work out.”
She tried to speak to the banks they had borrowed from in order to ask for a long-term plan.
“I asked them to cancel my card, and make a payment plan over 5 years, something that I can afford to pay it back. They declined. We asked to extend our home loan, which they refused and said that we would need to pay lenders mortgage insurance.”
“One of the ladies from NAB suggested that I should talk to a financial counsellor who I spoke to, and she suggested Way Forward.
Hani and her husband also tried a consolidation company.
“We could not afford their fees – which was 3-4 grand. I was already struggling. I called Way Forward and that was when we put together a budget.”
The ongoing financial stress took its toll.
“I was so stressed, and so negative. Knowing that we would need to make a repayment the next day but not knowing where we were going to get the money from. The whole environment was depressive and sad.
Hani and her husband have been married for nearly 20 years and their relationship felt the strain.
“We started arguing. I was not able to sleep properly, same with my husband. When you are under a lot of stress, you do not feel comfortable.
“We were receiving all these calls from the bank. We were just so scared. I didn’t feel like picking up the phone.
“There was a lot of stress in our relationship and it was impacting our kids, who were asking me why I was grumpy all the time. Because in the back of my mind, how do I solve this situation. It was tough.
“I was so happy with my response from Way Forward and my budget. I spoke to Keziah, she was so wonderful. She went through the whole budget.
“I said to her that we want to pay it back but we want to make it affordable. After we went through the budget she said she would come back to me with a plan. It was a relief when she said that we can afford it. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
My outlook at changed. Whenever we spend now, it’s more like, do we need it? And the stress on our heads from the calls telling us that we are behind, we know how much we earn and how much we need to spend. We have the whole picture and we know what our limits are and it is really helpful.
Hani wanted to share advice with people wanting to borrow money.
“Even if it’s a $4000 credit card, be careful with how you are using that money. It piles us quickly. Thinking that you will buy now and pay later – don’t get into those traps. Probably save in advance and have your budget. Just work out how much you can afford. Don’t go over the top.
“If any of the people are struggling and in a similar situation to us, I suggest they get to Way Forward. I think you are doing a wonderful job in saving lives because it can lead to depression. You never know when you can lose you head and what can happen.
If anyone is going through hard times, I suggest they come and talk to Way Forward. Your organisation is not for money, it is for people and caring for them.
“We are really happy we are getting back on track. I’m not saying we haven’t made mistakes, we did make mistakes.
Having the support from Way Forward to know that if you are going through a bad patch, there are possibilities to sort it out and get back on track and learn from those experiences.”