This is my story
Miguel started taking out loans to pay for everyday expenses for his family, like food, nappies and petrol after both he and his wife lost their jobs.
They were forced to sell two properties and start renting again.
“When the downturn of the economy came it was not only us but many people were out of a job. So unfortunately, we had to use credit cards to meet our basic needs.
“This went on for 7 months until I found work. My wife couldn’t get work so we were living off one income, which was significantly lower than what I was earning previously.
“We were just surviving with credit cards.
“The expectation was that my wife would get another job and then hopefully we could catch up but that didn’t happen. The longer we waited, the worse it got because our cash flow was negative every month.
“We had two very young children at the time. One was newborn, and the other one was in daycare at that stage. It was tough.”
Miguel was referred to Way Forward by Bank West after he had tried to negotiate repayments on a credit card that he was struggling to pay.
“I got in touch with Way Forward to see if we could find alternatives to mitigate the level of debt that we had at the time to match our cash flow. That was the main tension.
“I visited Way Forward’s web page, and thought, this is exactly what I was after – a mechanism for us to consolidate everything into one single payment and to find a way to reduce the payments.
“I spoke to Way Forward’s Hardship Advocate Tara and then started a process of collecting all the information required to present a case.
“There was also good communication with Tara, which made it much easier.
“The other important factor is that it’s not all on me because Way Forward has an important part in this process, which is the communication for each institution and ensure that the information makes sense.
it took a couple of days for both parties to get to a point where it was presentable to the financial institutions. And if you consider that I had 17 different credit cards across different financial institutions, we’re talking about a lot of data.”
“It was a team effort.”
When Miguel first started to try to access help to address their financial issues, he contacted a financial planner.
“The communication was not very good. After we lost our property, he wasn’t very proactive in helping us to find more intelligent ways to face the situation.
Eventually, he contacted a financial counsellor who helped them immediately with COVID-19 financial relief.
“If we were ever in this situation again, I would go straight to a financial counsellor.
“It was a one-hour session with the financial counsellor and she put a plan in place.
“I understood then that by having a financial counsellor alongside with you, it helps because it will give you a different perspective on your situation instead of to trying to figure it out by yourself.
“After the period of COVID-19 passed, then she couldn’t help us anymore, which is how we ended up being referred to Way Forward by Bank West.
He also says that if someone is unable to meet their repayments, it’s important to “speak up straight away”.
“The bank can wait a little bit, but it is an obligation.”
Miguel is comfortable with their monthly payment arrangement with Way Forward, however, he describes that meeting the repayments can sometimes feel overwhelming.
“You can’t stop another payment so there’s some pressure but it’s the same with mortgages, you feel like you have to meet your obligations.
“I feel pleased that my salary covers the repayments. And the best part probably is that we’ve got a light at the end of the tunnel.
We know that it’s going to be only five years, and it will be less. We will do things to speed up this process. My wife and I said we are working on different things to generate more income so that it is not just my salary.
“We want to finish with this as soon as possible.”