Being Straight With Debt Counsellors

‘Credit card debt’ is the worst of all nightmares. Credit card debt settlement is a wonderful stress relieving mechanisms. Once you are done with your credit card debt settlement, you are assured of a much better life.

You can approach credit card debt settlement in 2 ways. You can either go for credit card debt settlement all by yourself or you can take advice from a credit counselling company or a professional.

If you go for credit card debt settlement all by yourself, you will need to analyse the various options available to you e.g. checking on various balance transfer offers available in the market, checking the short term loan options with the banks etc etc. However, if you want to take credit card debt settlement advice from a professional, you should be able to trust the advisor fully. So you need to check the credentials of the credit card debt settlement advisor/company.

These credit card debt settlement companies/advisors will be able to help you in the best way if you tell them your current financial situation correctly. Your future plans are important too, as they might influence the decision on ‘What route for credit card debt settlement would work the best for you’.

Moreover, once you are done with your credit card debt settlement, you should also take measures to avoid falling into that pit again.



Western Australia’s mortgage ‘delinquents’: The stories behind the stats

Ms Meerman’s team of three counsellors based at Midlas in the Midland CBD helped Perth’s north-east deal with more than $50 million worth of debt last financial year. In the past six months, half of their clients were having issues paying off their mortgage. Mortgage delinquency occurs when someone falls more than 30 days behind on their home loan repayments.

Despite slight improvements on delinquency rates across the country and in WA, it remains a rampant issue. Recent figures from Commonwealth Bank suggest more than 1.5 per cent of its WA customers were in arrears on their home loan, second only to the Northern Territory.

Moody’s April 2018 mortgage delinquency map showed four of Australia’s worst performing regions were in WA: the WA outback, the Wheatbelt, Mandurah and Perth’s north east, which includes Midland. While the numbers paint a concerning picture, behind them are thousands of families who have experienced job losses or sickness, which is causing huge financial strain and serious mental health issues.


“It is really sad and most of these clients coming into me, they’re in their 50s or early 60s, they have worked their whole life, they’ve never been out of a job this long.

“It’s about their identity as a person and they feel like they’re failures. They’re facing bankruptcy, they’re at the end of their life with nothing to show for a lifetime of work.”

Ms Meerman said these clients usually had great payment histories on their home loan and it was frustrating for her to see banks pursuing them relentlessly after missing payments.

 Construction woes trickle down to families

Waikiki resident Samantha*, her husband and teenage daughter are healthy but they were affected by the ailing WA construction industry.

Her husband lost his job in April for three months, which was a huge blow to the family income.

“It wasn’t his choice to lose the job … he works with timber and that feeds the building industry and when that collapsed his company started retrenching people, he was sort of the last one on so the first one to go,” she said. The family’s mental health was strained from the financial stress coupled with the often crushing nature of job hunting her husband was going through.

“I think (my husband) applied for over 100 jobs. He would go for interviews, sometimes three at the same place and not hear anything.

“It got to the stage where he would’ve gotten a job in Welshpool, and travelled three hours a day just to have a job to pay the bills.

With the help of a financial counsellor both Samantha and Adam were able to get the bank off their backs and navigate their ways out of financial strife in ways they would have never thought of themselves.

Ms Meerman said falling behind on mortgage payments was a complex and stressful time, which is why the free service the financial counsellors network provides was so important.

She said the first thing they asked was whether the lack of income was because of illness or injury.

“If that’s the case you want to get onto your insurances ASAP. Not just insurances you know you’re paying for but the ones you might not know you have on your loans and with your super.

“Some people are insured for quite a lot of money through their super. They can pay out their house.

“I have seen people lose their house when they could have actually paid it out.”

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Amid an epidemic of mortgage stress, a perfect financial storm is on the way

Homeowners, particularly in the mining states of WA and Queensland, are already grappling with a number of factors including unemployment, under-employment, stagnant wages growth and weak house prices.

Another looming threat is rising interest rates, with three of the four major banks raising variable home loan rates earlier this year independent of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Andrew and Rachel Hayden built their dream home in Perth’s south-eastern fringe three years ago, but they are expecting a mortgage default notice from their bank within a month.

“We put probably $600,000 into it and [are] probably going to sell it for $480,000 — shocking,” Andrew Hayden said

He said he wanted to unlock his superannuation to pay his mortgage but couldn’t until the bank served him a default notice.

The couple’s financial problems began when Rachel Hayden fell ill 18 months ago.

The mother of five was forced to stop work and Mr Hayden had to shut down his business to care for her.

“[I feel] absolutely gutted,” she said. “You do everything by the book, everything. Gutted for the kids, they don’t do sports or anything and haven’t because you just can’t afford to.

“It took us so long to get here and we thought yes, no wasted rent money or anything like that

A perfect storm of rising mortgage costs

Credit Ratings agency Moody’s has predicted the situation will worsen as a growing number of interest only loans convert to principal and interest, adding about 30 per cent to monthly fees based on current interest rates

About 40 per cent of all mortgages funded by banks during 2014 and 2015 were interest only, and many of them included clauses which stipulated homeowners would have to start paying principal payments after five years.

Throw into the mix flat wages growth nationally, underemployment on the east coast and stubbornly high unemployment in the west, and according to Keith John, founder of Pioneer Credit — which buys debt off the banks once people default on their loans — you have a perfect storm.

“A perfect storm in the sense of, and I think we’re seeing it play out now, really low retail sales and a general lack of consumer appetite, and … people are desirous to paying down debt but don’t have the capacity that they did a year ago, or two or three years ago,” he said.