Demand expected for food parcels

TRACY MILES
Last updated 15:47 07/02/2014
jane ferguson
MAKING ENDS MEET: Salvation Army community ministries manager Jane Ferguson said February could be a tough month for some families.

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Salvation Army community ministries manager Jane Ferguson said the army's food bank would be likely to see more demand this month as families struggled to recover from the cost of getting children back to school.

Schools started going back last week, with families facing the extra cost of stationery lists and uniforms.

"Families scrape together the costs of uniforms and books.

"But once they are at school they've got to get the normal things you put into lunch boxes. They've used their grocery money, enabling them to get the children to school ... they'll keep doing that if that's what it takes to get their kids there."

People were trying to juggle their money but "it just doesn't go" far enough.

She said the Salvation Army offers a more indepth service than just giving out food parcels. It works with people on underlying things such as self esteem or budgeting.

St Vincent de Paul and Presbyterian Support Services could not be contacted for comment.

DIGITAL HELP TO STICK TO YOUR BUDGET

As the Christmas spirit fades you might find yourself struggling to pay for purchases you thought you would have plenty of money to pay. Or you might find yourself struggling to keep up with repayments on your mortgage or car.

If your financial situation has changed and you are finding it difficult to keep up with debt repayments contact the lender as soon as possible. Don't borrow money from one lender to pay off another without getting budget advice first.

You can ask the lender about options that could make life easier:

Ask to reduce payments

You can ask the lender if you can pay less each payment. You and the lender have to agree on any changes. This is called a variation, it will mean you will pay more over time because you are extending the loan;

Apply for hardship conditions

If you have something major go wrong in your life, like you have lost your job, or your marriage has ended you can ask for a payment holiday, or to lower the repayments and extend the term of the loan or a combination of the two to give you time to get back on your feet;

Take the goods back

If it looks as though the items you bought on credit are about to repossessed, ask if you can return the goods yourself. This is called "voluntary repossession". You will still end up owing money because of the lower re-sale value of second hand goods plus interest rates and fees, but getting in first will save you having to pay repossession fees which are usually hundreds of dollars.

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Plans for the future

If you don't want to be in the same situation this time next year, having a budget is a great place to start. If you have been living without a budget, it will probably take you a few months to get used to it, and that's okay. A budget isn't about complicating your life - it's about knowing where your cash is going and making your life easier.

There are also some little changes you can make to help you save:

Go generic on one name brand item - whether it be bathroom cleanser, sugar or flour. Aim to add each item a month. With most products you won't even know the difference;

Use comparison shopping apps

You can benefit from new high tech tools that you save. Some apps, for instance, let you scan barcodes and will tell you if the item on the shelf is cheaper on the other side of the shopping centre or from an online retailer;

Score cheaper splurges

You don't have to give up on the luxuries completely. Group buying websites and online auction sites deliver deals for cut-rate haircuts, dinners and holiday getaways - keep in mind not to impulse buy with these.

Flog it!

Got it and don't need it? Sell it online or at an old-fashioned car boot sale.

This is not just good for your pocket, but good for the environment too.

If you have trouble paying debts or need help starting a budget, it can be helpful to talk through your options with a budget advisor.

■ Contact the Timaru Budget Advisory Service on (03) 688 9383 or call 0508 BUDGETLINE (0508 283 438).

If you find that your creditor is treating you unfairly, you can ask a dispute resolution scheme for assistance.

You can do this by contacting 0800 LOAN STRESS (0800 562 678).

For more information see: familybudgeting.org.nz (New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services), sorted.org.nz (not-for-profit online financial planning service) and cab.org.nz (Citizen's Advice Bureau)

Source: Consumer Affairs

SHOPPING APPS

A Google search for "shopping apps compare prices nz" will bring up some websites which list a variety of shopping apps.

Here are some that are designed to help with supermarket budgeting:

PriceSpy is a site that lets you compare prices for a range of products at different retailers. Users of the app can scan the product barcode or enter the product name to get a list of available prices, as well as product reviews and directions to bricks and mortar retailers. Free for the iPhone, and Android and Nokia Symbian smartphones.

PriceMe is another free price comparison app, for the iPhone only.

CompareMe: Confused about whether the 300 gram or 200g bag of peanuts is better value for money? Ask the CompareMe app, which lets you compare products in different sizes and different bundled packs. $2.59 for the iPhone only.

Sales Buddy This is a similar app, helping you keep track of what you spend and calculate discounts and bundled offer deals. $1.29 for the iPhone.

SOUTH CANTERBURY HERALD

- © Fairfax NZ News

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