Budget advisers are struggling to balance their own ledgers after a huge increase in work.
The Whangarei Anglican Care Trust provides free budgeting advice and has seen a 28 per cent increase in new clients in the last year.
Trust chairman John Blyth says demand has almost tripled in the past three years to about 800 people a year.
The trust also provides counselling and a seniors service, and is having to dip into reserves and bequests to survive. The trust was $55,000 in deficit in the year ending June 2012.
Budgeting co-ordinator Marion Moon says the increase is mostly due to a new Work and Income requirement for people who apply for a special needs grant three or more times.
They are required to do a budgeting activity and most opt to see a budget adviser or attend a workshop.
Marion believes it is a good idea to see a budget adviser, get a budget set up and start planning.
"We don't have all the answers but sometimes when you're looking from the outside you can see an answer.
"Everyone should have a budget and not just one in your head, it needs to be written down."
Marion says planning is the key.
Some people may be scared of seeing a adviser but they are simply there to help by making suggestions, she says.
"We don't judge - it's part of our code of ethics." All visits are confidential.
Marion says the demand for the service is not unique to Anglican Care, and all advisers in Whangarei have seen increases.
Marion believes deman will keep growing due to high unemployment.
"The whole thing would change if there were jobs for people in Northland. That's what really needs to happen."
Ninety per cent of budgeting clients at Anglican Care are on some form of government assistance, including 45 per cent on the domestic purposes benefit.
But latest figures from Statistics NZ show wage earners here are also struggling compared with others across the country.
Median weekly earnings for those in paid employment are $693 in Northland, well below the New Zealand average of $806.
- © Fairfax NZ News